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 Cablecast and web streaming of program in serieS

      "Conversations with Harold Hudson Channer"

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                   Guest For  FRIDAY JULY 8, 2005 

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                                       GUEST: 
                                                RICHIE HAVENS                                                              
                SInger, Songwriter, Performer, Artist 

                                               (Originally Aired: May 5, 2004)
                               

                            

   

           

          

                                         WWW.RICHIEHAVENS.COM

                               E-Mail: Rhavens623@aol.com ______________________________________________

    
Richie Havens: A Biography

Richie Havens is gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music. His fiery, poignant, always soulful, singing style has remained unique and ageless since he first emerged from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960’s. It’s a voice that has inspired and electrified audiences from the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in 1969, to the Clinton Presidential Inauguration in 1993-coming full circle with the 30th Woodstock Anniversary celebration, "A Day In The Garden", in 1999.

For three decades, Havens has used his music to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. With over twenty albums released and a touring schedule that would kill many a younger man, he continues to view his calling as a high one. As he told The Denver Post, "I really sing songs that move me. I’m not in show business, I’m in the communications business. That’s what it’s about for me".

Born in Brooklyn, Richard P. Havens grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant community, the eldest of nine children. His father was a " by ear" piano player ("If he heard it, he could play it," says Richie) who worked with a number of bands around the city, and Richie took to performing like a natural. As he grew older, Richie helped organize a series of street corner doo-wop groups and, at 16, performed with The McCrea Gospel Singers. He sang doo-wop until the age of 20, at which point Havens left Bedford-Stuyvesant to seek out the artistic stimulation of Greenwich Village. "I saw the Village as a place you could escape to and express yourself," he recalls. "I first went there to perform poetry in the late ‘50’s during the beatnik days. Then I drew portraits for two years, and I’d stay up all night listening to folk music in the clubs, but it took a while before I thought of picking up a guitar." Nina Simone had been a key vocal influence early on; Fred Neil and Dino Valenti were among the folksingers who have had an impact on Havens during this period.

Havens’ reputation as a solo performer soon spread beyond the Village folk circles. He recorded two albums worth of demos for Douglas International in 1965 and `66, though none of the tracks were released until his first two albums caused a stir.

After joining forces with legendary manager Albert Grossman, Richie landed his first deal with the Verve label, which released Mixed Bag in 1967. This auspicious debut album featured standout tracks like "Handsome Johnny" (cowritten by Havens with future Oscar-winning actor Lou Gossett Jr.), Jerry Merrick’s "Follow" (later heard on the soundtrack to the hit 1978 film Coming Home), and a striking version of Bob Dylan’s "Just Like A Woman" that earned Havens his reputation as a premier interpreter of Dylan’s material.

Something Else Again (1968) became Havens` first album to hit the Billboard chart and pulled Mixed Bag onto the chart as well. That same year, Douglas International added instrumental tracks to his old demos and released two albums – Richie Havens` Record and Electric Havens. Havens first co-production, the two disc Richard P. Havens, 1983 (Verve, 1969), gave fans a taste of his exciting live sound.

In fact, it was as a live performer that Havens first earned widespread notice. By decade’s end, he was in great demand in colleges across the country ("I must have played every campus in America at least three times," he says, grateful for students’ early support), as well as on the international folk and pop circuit. Richie played the 1966 Newport Folk Festival; the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival; the January 1968 Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall; the December 1968 Miami Pop Festival; the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival, and, of course, the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York.

Havens` Woodstock appearance proved to be a major turning point in his career. As the festival’s opening act, he held the multitudes spellbound for nearly three hours. Called back for yet another encore, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual "Motherless Child" that became "Freedom", eventually reaching an audience of millions.

Meanwhile, Havens had switched labels to Stormy Forest (distributed by MGM) and delivered his Stonehenge LP in 1970. Later that year came Alarm Clock, which yielded the #16 single "Here Comes The Sun" (George Harrisons’ Beatles classic from Abbey Road) and became the first of his albums to reach Billboard’s Top 30. Subsequent Stormy Forest albums included The Great Blind Degree (1971), Richie Havens On Stage (1972), Portfolio (1973), and Mixed Bag II (1974).

Havens also branched out into acting during the 1970’s. He was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who’s Tommy, had the lead role in the 1974 film version of Catch My Soul (based on Shakespeare’s Othello) and costarred with comedian Richard Pryor in Greased Lightning (1977).

He also made memorable appearances on such television programs as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. On the latter program, the audience was so enthusiastic that Carson asked Havens to return the following night. In the show’s long history, the only other guest booked back to back based on such an overwhelming audience response was Barbra Streisand.

During the 70’s and 80’s, Havens’ work included a tour of Israel (by invitation of the Israeli Embassy), annual tours of Europe, and a non-stop US concert schedule. He continued to release albums as well, including The End Of The Beginning, Mirage, Connections, Common Ground, Simple Things and Now.

Increasingly, Havens devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970’s, he co-founded the Northwinds Undersea Institute, an oceanographic museum for children on City Island in the Bronx. That, in turn, led to his founding of the Natural Guard in early 1990. Havens describes the organization as "a way of helping kids to learn that they can play a hands-on role in affecting the environment. Children study the land, water, and air in their own communities and see how they can make positive changes." Based in New Haven, Connecticut, the Natural Guard now has chapters across the Americas, from Brooklyn to Hawaii to Belize, and continues to grow.

Throughout the 90’s Havens’ touring pace never slowed, and he delivered a landmark Madison Square Garden performance October 16, 1992, at the Columbia Records concert saluting Bob Dylan’s 30 years of recording. Richie’s show-stopping version of "Just Like A Woman" was hailed by many as one of the all-star show’s finest performances.

April `93 heralded the release of Resume:The Best Of Richie Havens (Rhino), a long overdue collection of his seminal late `60’s and early ‘70 recordings which included such gems as "Here Comes The Sun", "Just Like A Woman", "The Dolphins", "Handsome Johnny," and "Freedom". That was soon followed by another new studio release, Cuts To The Chase (Rhino), which featured the longtime concert staple, "Lives In The Balance".

Other highlights of the past decade included his triumphant appearance at the Troubadours of Folk Festival at UCLA’s Drake Stadium where a capacity audience refused to let him leave the stage. Hollywood Reporter reviewer Darryl Morden was among those who praised Richie for "turning in an urgently fierce performance" at this event, which Havens later referred to as a "Greenwich Village Class Reunion". At another LA appearance, His Holiness The Dalai Lama requested that Richie perform "Lives In The Balance", and "Freedom".

The summer of 1999 brought the release of They Can’t Hide Us Anymore (Harper Collins), a personal narrative recounting Richie’s days in Greenwich Village, reflections on the original Woodstock Festival and subsequent reunion concerts, as well as stories of friends and influences along the way.

Recent guest appearances have included the Peter Gabriel album, OVO, and collaborations with Groove Armada on the 2002 releases, Goodbye Country, Hello Nightclub and Lovebox.

March of 2002 brings the long-awaited release of Wishing Well (Stormy Forest/Evangeline Recorded Works), which includes two longtime concert favorites, "Paradise", and "On The Turning Away". MOJO MAGAZINE (May 2002) calls this album "both a revelation and a joy".

2002 & 2003 also bring the long awaited cd release of Richie’s early Stormy Forest albums, Stonehenge, Alarm Clock, Portfolio, The Great Blind Degree, Mixed Bag II, and Richie Havens On Stage.

For Richie Havens, music-making is a continuous process, one that advances a step further with each album. Through it all, his voice has remained one of rare eloquence and integrity. "My albums are meant to be a chronological view of the times that we’ve come through, what we’ve thought about, and what we’ve done to grow and change. There’s a universal point that we all respond to, where all songs apply to everyone, and this is what I’m still addressing today."
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                        CONVERSATIONS WITH HAROLD HUDSON CHANNER

Friday July 8, 2005

 /  10:30 - 11:30 AM  / (NYC Time)

Channel 34 of the Time/Warner &Channel 110 of the RCN 
Cable Television Systems in Manhattan, New York.

The Program can now be viewed on the internet at the time of cable casting at: 

www.mnn.org

NOTE: You must adjust viewing to reflect NYC time & click on channel 34

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