Click above for lyrics and samples from my CD 527
Click above for a video of “The Linden Hotel,” from Godfreys in 2007
Click here for live recordings with Michael London at Muhlenberg College, June 23rd, 2014
Roland Kushner: NO SONG LEFT BEHIND!
“No Song Left Behind” … that’s my hope. My part is keeping the songs going that have struck me over the years. A folk music fan my whole life, I spent decades as a promoter, artistic director, and broadcaster who listened to music all the time as part of my work (tough deal!). A lot of melodies and lyric lines stay with me from those days.
No Song Left Behind … there are so many great ones, and my joy as a singer and performer is to continually find the best ones and give them good airings, to let their voices be heard. “No Song Left Behind” is a call to action, too – I hope everyone can find great songs from their youth, and make them part of staying young.
I sing narratives and exciting pop songs from the 60s and 70s up to the present, many classics of the day. Images and sounds from American steelmaking and the Canadian wilderness, lovers looking ahead and looking back, rivers overflowing and an immigrant's look home ... musical reminders, guesses about the future and stories from the world over are all part of my performance. The songs include my originals and material from Canadian, American and British folk and popular songwriters. I play acoustic and electric guitars, long-necked mandolin and piano, singing of love, work, travel, history and fun in a melodic and rhythmic style influenced by both traditional and contemporary, all presented in a clear and engaging tenor.
I grew up in Ottawa, Canada. Not ready to perform when I was younger, I did the next best thing and helped other artists. I booked clubs and concerts, was a folk music broadcaster, and managed artists (including Stan Rogers) in the 1970s. I moved to Bethlehem, Pa., in 1980. After grad school, I did some consulting for Martin Guitar, and ran the first years of Musikfest from 1984-1987.
My true entrée as a writer and singer came in 1999 in the "Steel Festival: The Art of an Industry," a multi-disciplinary homage to Bethlehem's steelmaking heritage. The event inspired original songs about life as a steelworker in Bethlehem – “The Guy Who Keeps It Going," “Hello, Mr. Wolle,” a tribute to steelworkers in the ranks of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and “Little Mexico, 1938,” the homesickness of immigrant steelworkers. I contributed two songs to the festival and the Days of Steel CD on Bummer Tent Records. Produced by Mike Krisukas, this CD featured Festival songwriters. My song "Penny Evans' Daughters" is part of a tribute CD to Steve Goodman, in a 2007 biography of the legendary Chicago singer-songwriter.
In 2000, I released a CD, “527” with eight original songs, including three composed for the Festival. Click at left for samples
I’ve played at Godfrey Daniels, Rasputin's (Ottawa), the Yellow Door (Montreal), Musikfest (Bethlehem), Mayfair (Allentown), and many years at First Night (Bethlehem). In 2005, I performed my songs in “The Last Cast,” a dramatic and musical celebration of the tenth anniversary of the end of steelmaking in Bethlehem, in Baker Hall of Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University. In 2012, I was in Selkie Theatre’s sold-out concert-reading of Howard Zinn's Voices Of A Peoples History Of The United States. In 2013, I was Musical Director of Selkie’s production of Occupy Your Mind, a dramatic rendering of the experiences of the Occupy movement in New York.
Over the years, I’ve developed a great duet with Michael London, who is also my teaching colleague at Muhlenberg College. We’ve played together at Mayfair and for audiences at Drexel University and Muhlenberg College. We call our program “Songs of Spirit, Livelihood, and the Pursuit of Harmony” … or sometimes it’s just “Songs in the Key of M” to pay attention to our management teaching. Check out information about our performances, and live recordings of eight songs at http://www.michaellondon.net/roland-michael.
Since 2014, I’ve performed periodically as the soloist in two church settings. In Bethlehem, at the Rosemont Lutheran Church Contemporary Music series, where Pastor Jack Steltzer has invited me to shape the musical part of the services. I play songs from my current and evolving repertoire, focusing on songs of the spirit, songs that are thought-provoking, inspiring, and challenging, to accompany the service. At Muhlenberg College, Chaplain Callista Isabel invites me to help with the weekly Chapel service.
In 2016, I produced a tribute show honoring one of my songwriting heroes, Stan Rogers 1949-1983. With Dave Fry, Mary Faith Rhoads, and Rick Weaver, we did a great show to a full house at Godfrey Daniels, and have another scheduled for July 2017.
I’ve worked for years in the Lehigh Valley's arts scene. In addition to my founding role at Musikfest, Bethlehem’s summer music festival now in its 33rd year, I raised funds and helped produce recordings for the Bach Choir of Bethlehem and David Amram Jazz Quartet, founded and led Bethlehem’s Rose Garden Children's Festival, produced concerts for Sing Out! and Bethlehem's 250th Anniversary, and served as Interim Executive Director and then Treasurer of NPR affiliate WDIY-FM. I’m now on the boards of Sing Out! and New Bethany Ministries.
My day job, where I get to play music occasionally as part of my work, is Associate Professor of Business and Business Program Director at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Among other things, I teach a course to first year students called … “No Song Left Behind!”
These pages © 2002-2017, Roland J. Kushner, last modified May 30, 2017.