Was really sad to hear just now that Anne Feeney died in hospital earlier this month. Anne was an amazing singer-songwriter and an inspiring labour activist, in her native US and around the world. I can’t remember exactly why I first came across her, but I know that somehow I stumbled upon her Have You Been To Jail For Justice? album on the web and INSTANTLY bought a copy for my wife. It wasn’t just the passionate, incisive lyrics about the need for equality and justice, it was the fantastically varied and soulful music – and the way she and her fellow musicians sounded like they were just having the best time doing it. We had the CD on repeat for a good few months. Everything I read about her on the web showed the same mix of dedicated, unabashed activism, sensitive creative curiosity and joy at connecting with other people. My hero, the late Utah Phillips, once called her “the best labor singer in America.” She replied, “Not bad, coming from the best labor singer in America.”
I was lucky enough to swap a couple of emails with Anne nine years ago. I’d made an essay and mix CD for some friends to celebrate Woody Guthrie’s centenary, and because I’d put one of her songs on it, I sent it to her. She wrote back really quickly and was as lovely and friendly as if we’d met through friends. I was so sorry to hear that her health was suffering a few years ago (and that, with the wonderful humane US health care system, she was struggling to pay for treatment). But it’s horrible to hear that, after she got through that, she had further problems and then was lost to Covid-19 on 3rd Feb this year while in hospital. She was a good and kind and strong person. I know billions of people knew her and will miss her. I’m sad we’ve lost her too – the world is a little bit dimmer without her here.
You can read the peace below where I heard the news, by another amazing activist-songwriter, David Rovics.
Hasta la victoria siempre, Companera. La Lucha Continua.