President Rebecca Wyke is pleased to announce that Noel Paul Stookey, member of the legendary trio Peter, Paul and Mary, and renowned singer and songwriter in his own right, will deliver the Keynote Address at Convocation on September 20, 2019.
Stookey grew up in the Midwest where he played electric guitar in his high school rock ’n’ roll band (the Birds of Paradise) and hung out at an R&B record shop listening to groups like the Drifters, the Platters, and the Cadillacs.
He moved to New York City at 20 looking for independence, but he found “Peter” and “Mary,” and a career that took on a life of its own, with their first album shooting to the top of the charts, where it stayed for two years. He has performed in intimate coffeehouses, at the White House, and in massive stadiums. At the 1963 March on Washington when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech, Peter, Paul and Mary delivered the compelling If I Had a Hammer and Blowin’ in the Wind.
Stookey’s sound has been shaped by huge cities, as well as the smallest hamlets of the Heartland, housing projects, coastal Maine villages, towns up and down the Mississippi, and by his search for a common language that enables everyone no matter their origins and experiences to communicate with each other and celebrate the mystery of life.
Over forty-five years ago, Stookey and his wife Elizabeth (Betty) moved with their three daughters to the coast of Maine. By then Stookey’s solo voice was firmly established, writing and performing music that addresses social change while speaking of and to the soul; fusing jazz improvisation and insightful folk lyrics. The political, sociopolitical, spiritual, and cultural dynamics of life’s stories continue to drive his songs. The connection between Stookey and his material, as well as his audience, is intimate, immediate, identifiable and electrifying.
Stookey has recorded over 50 albums, both as part of the legendary trio and as a soloist. His voice is known all across this land: from the Wedding Song to In These Times.
Nearly $2 million earned from Stookey’s now-classic Wedding Song helped fund the work of other socially responsible artists. This inspired Stookey, along with his daughter Liz Stookey Sunde, to launch MusicToLife Initiative in 2001. The nonprofit has introduced groundbreaking ways to bring music to life for social change through technology, entertainment, artist collaboration and education.