2019 Keynote Speaker
Noel Paul Stookey
Photo by Kevin Mazur
Singer-Songwriter Noel Paul Stookey has been altering both the musical and ethical landscape of this country and the world for decades—both as the “Paul” of the legendary Peter, Paul and Mary and as an independent musician who passionately believes in bringing the spiritual into the practice of daily life. Funny, irreverently reverent, thoughtful, compassionately passionate, Stookey’s voice is known all across this land: from the “Wedding Song” to “In These Times.” Most recently, Noel’s musical political commentary entitled “Impeachable” (based on the familiar melody of “Unforgettable”) has reached viral status with the online community — yielding more than a million Facebook/YouTube views.
While acknowledging his history and the meaningful association with Peter and Mary — the trio perhaps best known for its blend of modern folk music and social activism, rallying support for safe energy, peace and civil rights at some of the most iconic events in our history — including the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr., Noel Paul has stepped beyond the nostalgia of the folk era. Nearly $2 million, earned from Noel’s now-classic “Wedding Song,” were used to fund the work of other socially responsible artists, which inspired Noel, along with his daughter Liz Stookey Sunde, to launch MusicToLife in 2001. The nonprofit organization has introduced groundbreaking ways to bring music to life for social change through technology, entertainment, artist collaboration and education. Whether judged by the subject matter of his current concert and recorded repertoire or by virtue of his active involvement with the MusicToLife initiative (www.musictolife.org) linking music fans to the expression of contemporary concerns via many different artists and musical genres, Stookey’s current musical outlook continues to be fresh, optimistic and encouraging.
Elizabeth Bannard Stookey, Noel’s high school friend and wife since 1963, has incorporated the ‘family music’ as part of her On Light, Many Candles (www.onelightmanycandles.org) multifaith programs – featuring readings from world spiritual leaders counterpointed with the songs of her husband. Betty says “The spiritual and relevant nature of Noel’s music lends itself beautifully to the message of our program. His songs reflect the diversity and integrity of individual faith while seeking a global spiritual community.”