Denise Sullivan

Author, Journalist, Culture Worker

Notes From the Keep on Pushing Express

Author reading this weekend

Interview with the author in Blurt

On-air at KUSF (In Exile)

Filed under: Keep On Pushing

President’s Dedication to Dr. King Rings with Message to Keep on Pushing

“…he kept on pushing, he kept on speaking, he kept on marching, until change finally came.”

“…when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, Dr. King refused to accept what he called the “is-ness” of today; he kept pushing towards the “ought-ness” of tomorrow.

“We can’t be discouraged by what is…we’ve got to keep pushing for what ought to be…”

Filed under: Keep On Pushing, , , ,

We Are The 99 Percent

[youtube.com/watch?v=mXI0WPSWt68]

Filed under: Occupy Wall Street, ,

Goodbye Columbus, Hello Native Creativity: Buffy Sainte-Marie and Debora Iyall

Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of the central figures in Keep on Pushing: As unique musically as she is direct lyrically, Sainte-Marie was born on the Piapot Cree Indian reservation in Saskatchewan and adopted by a family in Maine. She says that as a child she was artistic innately, as well by necessity. Befriended by a Narragansett couple who lived near her family in Maine, it was from them she learned about cultural handcrafts and kindness. “They didn’t sit around and give me Indian lessons,” she said, “But on the other hand, they didn’t chase me away.”  As a young student, Sainte-Marie was drawn to philosophy and religion, while she simultaneously developed her musical side, as a folk performer. Her unique vibrato and innovative song style are what first drew me to finding out more about her story; what I found, moved me to the core, from the volume of hardship and turmoil she described, to her refusal to study war, which landed her among Nixon’s enemies.  “I don’t think many people, even today, understand how much blacklisting has gone on of artists in the record business,” she says.  In the face of the hassles, Sainte-Marie continued to innovate, as an electronic musician as well as a computer-based visual artist. Committed to teaching, to passing on what was given freely to her as well as what she fought to achieve, Sainte-Marie’s work still offers a pointed critique of war, greed, injustice and the anti-people policies that impact indigenous people all over this land.

Debora Iyall is one of the artists  directly descended from Sainte-Marie’s example of native creativity:  A singer, a songwriter, a poet, and a visual artist, Iyall’s story also unfolds throughout Keep on Pushing, beginning with her time as a teenager during the Indians of All Tribes’ Occupation of Alcatraz.  Her punk-rooted style bears little resemblance to Sainte-Marie’s folk roots (Iyall was most influenced by Patti Smith), but a close connection to arts education and her roots in the Cowlitz tribe made her a unique presence in San Francisco art-punk band, Romeo Void. Iyall had the guidance of elders—her mother and the Natives she met at pow-wows and on Alcatraz—who supported her creative discoveries. “I felt like I had these little nuggets of information or culture to hang on to,” she said.  Today, Iyall exudes confidence in her work as a performer and visual artist and is also a teacher and advocate, for artists of all colors and dimensions.

I felt honored and humbled to have been allowed access to the lives of both Debora Iyall and Buffy Sainte-Marie—two women whose works have uplifted and inspired, not only their brothers and sisters native to the Americas, but their fellow artists and anyone who’s ever been broke or hungry, tired, or cast aside, and helped them to keep on keeping on: Their complete stories are told in Keep on Pushing.

[youtube.com/watch?v=LahDV778Q70&feature=related]

Filed under: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Punk, , ,

Curtis Mayfield, Part Two

Amoeblog: There’s a lot of “Keep On Pushing” titled songs. Which one were you thinking of when you titled your book?

Denise Sullivan: I was thinking of the original song by the Impressions, written by Curtis Mayfield and the way “keep on pushing,” and “move up a little higher” reoccur in his other songs, like “We’re a Winner”and “Move on Up.” Mayfield isn’t talking about the ladder of success and financial status. He’s talking about raising consciousness and about transcendence–about moving above and beyond circumstances. Combine those themes that are of deep interest to me with the genius of his composition and you get a title that I hope conveys the potential for extreme unity, between message, music and people.

Filed under: Curtis Mayfield, Keep On Pushing, Soul, ,

Bert Jansch: Nov, 3, 1943—Oct. 5, 2011

Filed under: Blues, Folk, Jazz, , , ,

Now Playing: Tinariwen

Tassili  is Tinariwen’s latest collection of desert blues from Mali. This song features Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio, the contemporary  indie rock band from Brooklyn.

[youtube.com/watch?v=BOV5jEa-vwc]

Filed under: Blues, France, Mali, Now Playing

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