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Oscar Brand
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Vocalist
    (February 7, 1920-September 30, 2016)
    Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Folksinger/songwriter/author/broadcaster
    Recorded over 100 albums
    Wrote the songs ‘Let’s Sing Out’ and ‘Something to Sing About’
    Compiled several collections of folk songs, including four volumes of ‘Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads’
    Hosted ‘Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival’ on WNYC-AM (1945-2016), ‘Let’s Sing Out’ on CTV (1962-66) and CBC (1966-68), and various shows on NPR
    An organizer of the first Newport Folk Festival (1959)
    He said about touring with Leadbelly and Josh White, ‘I wasn’t a great singer, but they let me come along because I was white and was able to buy them sandwiches and drinks.’
    He wrote songs for two Broadway flops, ‘A Joyful Noise’ and ‘The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N.’
    He wrote the music for commercials for Cheerios and Log Cabin Syrup.
    He claimed to be the inspiration for Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch, but his assertion was disputed by others, including Oscar portrayer Carroll Spinney.
    He was born with one leg two inches shorter than the other and had to wear special shoes.
    He provided exposure early in their careers for generations of folksingers, from the Weavers to Bob Dylan to Suzanne Vega.
    His willingness to let blacklisted singers like Pete Seeger on his show resulted in his own blacklisting.
    When Dave Van Ronk complained to Brand about his having Burl Ives -- who had named names when testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee – as a guest, he replied ‘Dave, we on the left do not blacklist.’
    His ‘Folksong Festival’ set a record as the longest-running radio show with a single host.
    He participated in the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches (1965).
    His ‘Something to Sing About’ (a.k.a. ‘This Land of Ours’) is considered an unofficial national anthem of Canada.

Credit: C. Fishel


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