This Week In Zoe News

The Hits Daily Double:

Baez recorded Whistle Down the Wind in 10 days with Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry. You can check out one song from the new set, “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” below. You may want to have a Kleenex or two handy.

Work on the book proceeds with Zoe having to send in an author statement and score. It’s my observation that it’s hard for artists to write about their art. My advice: let other people help!

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This Week in Zoe News: The 2019 Grammys

To my disappointment, “The President Sang Amazing Grace” was robbed of a best song nomination or even a best Americana song nomination BUT Whistle Down The Wind did get a nomination for best folk album! Here’s the list:

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental folk recordings.

  • WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
    Joan Baez
  • BLACK COWBOYS
    Dom Flemons
  • RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS
    Mary Gauthier
  • WEED GARDEN
    Iron & Wine
  • ALL ASHORE
    Punch Brothers

So, this isn’t quite as adrenaline producing as a song nomination, it’s still very very very cool!

And Grammy organisers! Be part of the resistance! Get Joan and Zoe to sign “President” during the show!!!

This Week in Zoe News

Real Clear Politics:

Is there any good to be gained by revisiting these horrifying events? I might not have thought so until recently. But this morning, I remembered that on the night of the killings, Joan Baez sang “Amazing Grace” at San Francisco City Hall, where at impromptu and peaceful candlelight march from the Castro had ended up. It’s also the tune Barack Obama sang in Charleston in 2015 in the aftermath of appalling racial violence there. His performance prompted the writing of a stunning piece of music, “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which Joan Baez heard and knew she had to sing. My advice? The next time you want to tweet out something caustic about a fellow American, listen to it, as I am doing while I write these words.

An a cappella cover of “The Earth and the Sky”:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Rteej7kOLcY

Zoe is going to perform at the 2019 “Dream Lunch” fundraiser for the MLK Community Foundation. She’ll be doing “The President Sang Amazing Grace” with piano and the animated video projected behind her. It’s super cool and exciting.

This Week in Zoe News

The big news is “The President Sang Amazing Grace” has been acquired as a children’s book (with illustrations based on Jeff Scher’s video):

Amy Novesky and Nina Gruener at Cameron Kids have acquired world rights to The President Sang Amazing Grace by Zoe Mulford, a picture book featuring the song of the same name, illustrated by Jeff Scher. Adapted from the music video for the song performed by Joan Baez, the book is about the day former president Obama sang “Amazing Grace” to a grieving congregation and nation, following the mass shooting in an historic black church in Charleston, S.C. Publication is set for fall 2019; the author and illustrator represented themselves.

This fulfil’s a life long dream of Zoe’s! She’s already planning a book/concert tour.

There’s a few bits from the backlog as well.

Rabbi Esserman:

However, it soon became impossible to ignore the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The TV was flooded with news about the event and, when I got on the computer the next day (I don’t use the computer on Shabbat), the Internet and my e-mail were filled with articles and statements from a wide variety of sources. Somehow, though, it still didn’t seem real, or maybe I was too numb from the other shooting events that have occurred over the past few years. It was that evening when I was listening to music that the reality started to seep through my defenses: Youtube reminded me of Joan Baez’ version of “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which speaks of when former President Barak Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney after the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The reminder of that senselessness shooting and how these shootings continue made my soul hurt.

Elizabeth Aquino:

She sang her own stuff and Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and John Prine and Woody Guthrie and Stephen Foster and Pete Seeger, and when she sang Zoe Mulford’s The President Sang Amazing Grace, I cried. Because, really, it seems like another life these days, doesn’t it? I’d never heard Baez in real life, had sort of fallen in love with my first real love to her music and was amazed that while her voice had deepened, it was still strong if not capable of hitting the super high notes of old. To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I ever really appreciated those super high notes, anyway.

This Week in Zoe News

https://www.laweekly.com/music/joan-baez-takes-a-knee-the-queen-of-folks-last-waltz-10053155

Her rendition of “Joe Hill” — the Industrial Workers of the World anthem she sang at Woodstock ’69 — reaffirmed her union solidarity, while Zoe Mulford’s “The President Sang Amazing Grace” not only dealt with the Charleston massacre and gun violence but was a reminder of who’s currently in the White House without naming names.

http://thereportergroup.org/Article.aspx?aID=5041

However, it soon became impossible to ignore the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The TV was flooded with news about the event and, when I got on the computer the next day (I don’t use the computer on Shabbat), the Internet and my e-mail were filled with articles and statements from a wide variety of sources. Somehow, though, it still didn’t seem real, or maybe I was too numb from the other shooting events that have occurred over the past few years. It was that evening when I was listening to music that the reality started to seep through my defenses: Youtube reminded me of Joan Baez’ version of “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which speaks of when former President Barak Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney after the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The reminder of that senselessness shooting and how these shootings continue made my soul hurt.

I did a bit of YouTube searching for fun Zoe vids:

Let’s start with the NERFA videos:

 

 

This Week in Zoe News

The big thing this week was an interview with Dan Rather which I’ve not been able to view cause UK. She gives her standard (wonderful) line on “The President Sang Amazing Grace”.

Zoe is at NERFA (with lingering cold and various sorts of back pain). She has a “formal showcase” which is v. cool. You can follow the overly curated action on Twitter. NERFA was where she wrote and debuted “President”. It comes hot on the heels of election time!

My searches got weird because the crowd at a Trump rally sang “Amazing Grace” while a women who needed medical attention was attended too. I keep meaning to write a longer piece about presidential hagiography  and “The President Sang Amazing Grace.” Obviously and inevitably, “President” is part and parcel of Obama hagiography. Obviously, Obama is the best president of my lifetime, by far, and one of the most successful (and progressive) presidents ever. Obviously, Trump is already one of the worst and is gunning for worst. Weirdly, they are near inverts of each other personally: Obama’s demeanour, behaviour, family life, ability to reach out positively to people are all extraordinary. His range as a “performer” is also impressive: in spite of some bad notes, he wrote and performed his correspondent’s dinner speeches and they were pretty funny. His administration was essentially scandal free. Trump is…well gross on all of these. Zoe wrote “President” after thinking “We’re going to miss these folks” which is true. One doesn’t need to think Obama is a saint or hero to think that.

But a lot of people who like “The President Sang Amazing Grace” do think that. I don’t begrudge them that. I don’t think it’s a good or helpful thing to think about a president, but it’s not my job to police people’s personal attitudes. You can find lots to sincerely admire in  Obama and he’s a perfectly good model. He was also the first black president and that means something damnit. He was the first, and thus far only, non white male president. That he be excellent was critical to making that accomplishment work and to be a step forward on the path to America’s redemption on race.

Whoops! I started writing out what will need a lot more to set out properly. My point was that a bunch of people found Trumps pausing a rally for 10-20 minutes and a crowd singing “Amazing Grace” for someone with a medical issue a big moving moment.

It’s a strange thing.

This Week in Zoe News

The San Diego Union-Tribune:

A: A lot of that is a mystery. When it’s a song like (Anhoni’s) “Another World” or (Zoe Mulford’s) “The President Sang ‘Amazing Grace’,” it’s no mystery — it’s a dead ringer and those songs take exactly one time to hear. Most songs I have to listen a few times and there’s (usually) a flaw. I don’t mean because a word doesn’t mean what I want to say. But some little musical glitch that doesn’t feel right or that changes what I want to say. Then there’s musicality of it, who am I doing it with, a whole lot of things. “The President Sang Amazing Grace” just dropped out of the sky. I couldn’t imagine a song like that existed — and then I heard it on the radio.

Twice:

And she scored equally well Tuesday with such chestnuts as Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” and John Prine’s “Hello in There” as she did with such newer selections as Zoe Mulford’s “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” a gripping chronicle of the 2015 South Carolina church massacre in Charleston.

Its lyrics had a suitably early-Dylan flavor and Baez delivered them with a fitting sense of pathos: But no words could say what must be said / For all the living and the dead / So on that day and in that place / The President sang ‘Amazing Grace’ / My President sang ‘Amazing Grace.’