Who is Zilphia Horton and why should you care? Help Kim write a book…
I received an email from Kim a couple days ago announcing the Kickstarter campaign she launched to help fund her book project about Zilphia Horton. In case you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a funding platform for creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. Many musicians are starting to use it as a way to fund recordings so if you’ve not crossed paths with it yet, most likely you will soon.
Kim has been telling me of her desire to write a book about Zilphia Horton for quite some time. I’ve pasted her email below, so you can learn more about who Zilphia Horton was and why Kim’s writing this book.
As many of you realize this website doesn’t bring in much revenue and takes a considerable amount of time and effort to moderate and operate. Much of the work that goes into making this a great place for you to hang out and visit; the welcoming and accepting tone that is set, the blogs that are featured throughout the day, the witty tweets and Face Book updates, etc. are largely a result of the time and energy that Kim puts in.
So, I’d like to encourage you to join me in supporting Kim in this endeavor. If you’ve been thinking about making a donation to No Depression, how about donating directly to Kim instead? I plan on contributing $1,000 to this project, and encourage you to give what you can (contributions from $1 up are more than welcome). Let’s show her how much we appreciate all that she does to keep this site humming along by helping to kick-start her project.
Kickstarter funding is all or nothing, so it’s important for Kim to reach her full goal. You can make a donation here via this Kickstarter link or, if you prefer, you may send a check to the address below:
c/o No Depression
PO Box 31332
Seattle, WA 98103
(Please make checks payable to Kim Ruehl – and please don’t send cd’s to this address)
This from Kim’s email about the project:
As many of you know, I’ve just moved clear across the country to write a book-length biography about Zilphia Horton. She was a musicologist, accordion player, teacher, labor organizer, activist, and path-forger born in rural Arkansas in 1910. She’s also one of a small handful of activists during the 1930s who had the idea that the songs people already knew and enjoyed singing, could be used to empower them and inspire them to work toward social change (a somewhat novel idea at the time). She was fiercely dedicated to the labor movement, but passed many of the songs she discovered on to young folksingers like Guy Carawan and Pete Seeger, who later used them to embolden the Civil Rights Movement.
You probably know these songs from your childhood – in large part because a blacklisted Pete Seeger recorded them when he couldn’t get any gigs. Maybe now and then when you’re feeling alone and insignificant, one has come to mind in a sort of needling way (“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”).
The work Zilphia Horton did as a musicologist – finding and sharing these songs – is only a small part of the story. Her legacy is rather behemoth, although not attached to any name most people can recall. Her most popular discovery – “We Shall Overcome” – to this day hands all its proceeds back to the poor African-American communities in the south, for example.
There’s much more to tell, and I can’t wait to pull it all together into a good story worth reading. But as I know you know, people who write about folk music for a living don’t usually have bags of cash lying around the living room. Before I can even get a grant or publisher to back this project, I need to do a significant amount of research to write the proposal. There are no other books about Horton to read for a backstory, so I need to do the legwork, traveling, questioning, reading of letters and essays, etc. Will you help foot the bill? Along with just the pleasure of knowing you helped these holes in history be filled, I’ve come up with some (I think) nice gifts for your donations.
Take a look at my page on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1639044940/kim-ruehl-is-writing-a-book-about-zilphia-horton
Note that nobody’s money gets collected until I reach my goal (Dec. 8, 2010). Also, please pass that link on to your friends, and anyone else you know who might be interested in the topic.
Thanks so much! I can’t wait to write this thing.