David Guilbault has been booking and hosting a concert series called “Voices Raised: Some Things Gotta Be Said.” The shows feature 4 to 6 singer-songwriters, each performing three original topical songs. We wanted to introduce David to you through his own words.
“As a Baby Boomer, I grew up in the Fifties and came of age in the Sixties. I was entranced by the crooners right from the get-go – Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Dean Martin. Then I was captivated by the harmonies of The Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys.
My parents bought me a Fender Stratocaster (where did that go?) and I wrote my first song as a teenager. But, I was too shy to pursue the music that was gestating in my emerging self.
Then the Sixties happened. I was transfixed by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Motown. I was caught up in the Folk Revival, Rhythm & Blues, and the British Invasion. It’s then and there that the songwriter in me awakened, along with a social conscience.
I had planned on being a math teacher, but the world was exploding around me. So, instead, the river of life swept me into a career as a network television news producer. Starting as a Copy Boy for Howard K. Smith at ABC News, I worked my way up the ranks and became a producer for “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.” Along the way I was also a pioneering founding Senior Producer for cable news at Cable News Network and Internet news at MSNBC.com. But, I always considered ABC News as my true home. Now I am retired.
So, after leaving journalism I became a full-time songwriter. I turned from reporting objective facts to sharing subjective truths. To that end I have been hosting “songwriters in the round” shows all over town for years. Then this last election happened. Now, I am concentrating my efforts on finding stages for Seattle singer-songwriters to express their concerns.
Were you taught not to raise your voice? Well, there are times when “some things gotta be said” loud and clear. I believe now is one of those times.
It is clear that our nation is growing increasingly polarized. One can see more divisions in politics, religion, race, and culture. One can also see community.
As I said, I came of age in the Sixties. That was a time of protest. It was a time for social activism – counterculture happenings, civil rights marches, women’s liberation rallies, union organizing meetings, anti-war protests. People marched in support of oppressed communities, in solidarity with African-Americans, migrant workers, Native Americans, gay men and women. People spoke up. Some also sang out. We heard raised voices from artists across musical genres – Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, James Brown, Paul Kantner, Janis Ian, Buffy Sainte-Marie, John Fogerty, Marvin Gaye and Tom Paxton, to name but a few.
Before the Sixties, there were songs of The Great Depression and The Great War. Woody Guthrie sang of “deportees.” Billie Holiday sang of “strange fruit.” Yip Harburg asked, “Buddy, can you spare a dime?” After the Sixties, Hip Hop and Rap music spoke of the social ills of that time.
Today, we live in a dangerous world of turmoil and disruption. Now, just as it has always been, songwriters need to speak to the issues of the day – institutionalized authoritarianism, racial injustice, economic inequality, environmental destruction, religious zealotry, ethnic warfare, migrant oppression, violent radicalism, corporate corruption, human rights.
Truth itself is under suspicion and attack nowadays. While journalists struggle to report the objective facts, I believe it is up to songwriters to express their subjective truths.
To that end, I am booking and hosting a series of monthly concerts featuring topical songs, called “Voices Raised: Some Things Gotta Be Said.” My hope is to make this a traveling road show to different Seattle communities. The concert series has been in Greenwood (Couth Buzzard) and West Seattle (C&P Coffee), comes to Ballard on April 14th (Grumpy D’s) and back to Greenwood on May 4th (Couth Buzzard). I am looking for more venues in different neighborhoods. I am also looking for singer-songwriters who have something to say.
I am pleased that so many performers from Songwriters in Seattle have shared their concerns on our stages, including Jeremy Serwer, Val D’Alessio, Claire Michelle, Tai Shan, Chris Klimecky, Peter Spencer, Audrey Goodman, Saint John, Andy Roo Forrest, Tiger Zane, and Paul Beaudry. Coming up this Spring, more names will be added to that roster, including Abby London, Carmen Zullo, Rebekah Ann Curtis, Char Seawell, Dave Gardafee, Chris Faget, and Natalie Quist. I thank all of them for raising their voices in concern and community.
If you feel compelled to write a so-called topical song, just do it. It doesn’t need to be polished or profound, it just needs to speak your truth. Raise your voice. Some things gotta be said.”