Rise Up and Sing

Hope + change through song

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History of Rise Again

In 1998, 10 years after Rise Up Singing was published, Sing Out came to us and asked us to create a sequel using the same format with 1200 more songs. We signed a new contract with Sing Out and put together a song selection committee that included Pete Seeger, Pat Humphries, Greg Artzner (of Magpie), Sonny Ochs (Phil's sister), Sam Hinton (a wonderful old-time folklorist & folksinger who did the original calligraphy for Rise Up Singing) & many others. We met a bunch both in person to sing songs together and over cyberspace and came up with a new songlist for the new book, which was tentatively titled Spread Your Wings (from the same verse in "Summertime" from which the title of Rise Up Singing was drawn).

Unfortunately it turned out that Sing Out was not in a position to carry the project forward as hoped. In 2011 Sing Out's executive director, Mark Moss, informed us that we definitely needed to explore other options if the book was ever to be published including co-publishing the book with Hal Leonard, a large music publisher who had been the music trade distributor for Rise Up Singing for many years. (Pete Seeger had already urged us to approach Hal Leonard as he had had some good experience working with them on a project.)

In the fall of 2012 we signed a contract to create an entirely new songbook using the format that had worked so well in Rise Up Singing but with completely new songs. Because the earlier provisional songlist we had put together for Sing Out was now over ten years old, we decided to revisit the entire list. We consulted widely with songwriters, songleaders, and groups of teens and young adults to encourage them to submit songs they'd like to see in the new book. We also called on a number of experts in specific song genres (blues, country, jazz), gospel choir leaders, people involved in "Threshold Choirs" singing with the dying, climate and Occupy activists, etc. to generate as wide a range as possible of submissions. Notice about the new book was also sent out via musicians' networks like Children's Music Network and People's Music Network.

During the first eight months of 2013 we waded through a list of well over 3000 songs, reading through the lyrics and listening to youtube videos or mp3 files of every submitted song. We submitted a new songlist to Hal Leonard which was finalized in October.

Hal Leonard's main issue with our list was how difficult permissions would be. They have print permission arrangements with many large music publishers and many individual songwriters but still had a huge number of songs on the list to obtain song licenses for. We insisted on the need to include a large number of songs from many genres they do not ordinarily license including a lot of lesser know singer songwriters and songs from the British Isles, and composed songs in Spanish and Hebrew.

We assembled an incredible team of scores of volunteers who worked with us on the many tasks to put this book out including locating, formatting and checking lyrics, identifying tune links, creating and proofing and rechecking chord lines for each song, identifying sources people can use to learn the tunes, and work on illustration and layout.

The book was completed and published in August 2015. The first singalong concert with the new Rise Again songbook took place at Madison Friends Meetinghouse on August 27, 2015, a day after Peter's 69th birthday. We were joined by Lou and Peter Berryman and Joe Jencks. The sold out audience included many of the Solidarity Singers, who have held weekly singalongs at the state capitol since Gov. Scott Walker began attacking union workers in Wisconsin.

(check out this sung history of the songbooks created by Jeremy Korr - put to the tune of Stan Rogers' "Mary Ellen Carter")