Noel Paul Stookey

Antiwar songs by Noel Paul Stookey
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Noel Paul StookeyNoel Paul Stookey altro non è che il Paul di Peter, Paul and Mary. Riportiamo qui di seguito la sua biografia dal sito ufficiale del celeberrimo trio, http://www.peterpaulmary/net:

Pick a Sunday, any Sunday…and there’s a good chance that the music drifting out through the chapel windows on the campuses of Northfield Mount Hermon school is being created by the "Paul" of the folk singing group Peter, Paul and Mary. Better known to his friends as Noel (or even ‘Stook" if you’re a highschool chum), he is married since 1963 to the NMH Chaplain and sings at many of the school services. His wife Elizabeth graduated Harvard Divinity School in the spring of 1997 and was selected almost immediately by the northwestern Massachusetts prep school to be the first woman chaplain in the history of the institution.

"It’s been great, working with Betty in the context of this ‘larger family’" says Noel. "In many ways," he continues, "this 1200 person community forces me to stay much more current and accessible than I would be off in ‘vacation land’ somewhere!" Recently invited to be an ARTIST IN RESIDENCE at the school, Noel Paul taught a songwriting class to twelve of the students resulting in one of the creations being selected for inclusion on the third in a series of musical recordings for The Celebration Shop in Texas, a non-profit group specializing in entertainment and encouragement for the life-threatened, hospitalized and physically challenged. The first two releases (BEST I CAN BE and WE CAN DO), both produced by Stookey, are award-winners and can be found through Borders Books, Amazon.Com and other children’s outlets.

And 'Paul' is not the only other name that Noel goes by: His work with kids of the electronic age during the 80’s and early 90’s via the Celestat computer BBS that he ran in Downeast Maine, earned him the title "SYSOP", (short for SYStem OPerator) Prior to the rapid advances in the internet, the electronic bulletin board system was at one point the largest in the state of Maine and had over 400 regular users amidst the 1000 or more that passed through its phone lines each year. "I get back to Maine much less frequently now", he admits, referring to Blue Hill Falls, the village where he and his wife Betty moved in 1974 to raise their three daughters Liz, Kate and Anna.

"I still stay in touch with computers, animation and that whole rapid expansion of technology", says Stookey who supervises PETERPAULANDMARY.COM (the trio’s website) and is in the process of completing the construction of his small Audio/Visual digital editing suite in the Massachusetts house given the family during his wife’s tenure. He recalls, "I was drawing stick figures on the sides of my mom’s books so that I could flip the pages and watch them move when I was six years old. Now with animation software available for the computer for under $100 how could I not stay involved?!"

Though he moved to New York City at the age of 20 to be a photographer, Noel Paul Stookey soon found that other opportunities beckoned there. Swept up in the burgeoning arts scene in Greenwich Village, his buoyant style and Midwestern affability quickly found him work as a master of ceremonies, comedian and sometime singer and songwriter. "Those were exciting times, " he recalls. "I would only wish that the same environment of artistic exchange and freedom could be made available to more young artists today..."

Now, in his fourth decade as the "Paul" of Peter, Paul, and Mary, and on the road with Peter and Mary for about 40 concerts a year, Stookey's commitment to folk music remains strong. "... It is, after all, 'people music'," he says, noting that it hasn't needed pop radio or music videos to endure, "duplicable on a stage or around a campfire or driving in a car. Folk singers have always been allowed, even encouraged", he suggests, "to talk about things other than teenage dating behavior."

Songwriter Stookey's range of themes has been characteristically wide, spanning a spectrum from, "I Dig Rock And Roll Music," his 60's satire on pop trendiness, to one of the best loved solo records, "The Wedding Song," which reached the top 30's of the pop charts in the early 70's (The latter was of special significance to Noel, not only because it represented a musical gift to Peter Yarrow on his wedding day, but also because it was among the first songs written following his Christian conversion in 1968).

Stookey's passionate beliefs have been an impetus for his own personal activism. "Ultimately we’re all responsible for putting our belief into action," he says, commenting on his visits to Central America and his support for the sanctuary movement, which shelters the refugees of political oppression. His song "El Salvador," based on the experience of clergy in that nation, has been called a stirring call for human rights.

"Writing that song," Noel recalls, "was another step toward resolving the questions: 'is there such a thing as a just war?' I have come to discover that you do not defeat evil with evil...but with Love."

That spirit has guided both his words and his actions. After creating "The Wedding Song," for example, Stookey assigned the publishing rights from the song to The Public Domain Foundation, guided by his daughter Elizabeth Stookey Sunde, which has donated nearly 2 million dollars to charities in countries around the world.

"My discovery and ultimate thankfulness for the patience of a Creator who would be as involved in my life as I allowed, obviously altered my motivations tremendously", volunteers Noel. "...Most the songs I’ve written since the late 60's, though they may be really quite wide contextually, are from the 'forgiven and Loved' perspective that one inherits as a gift of the Spirit."

‘Stook’ enjoys the balanced schedule he works to maintain between his private life, his solo performances and concerts with Peter and Mary. His many interests seem to strengthen and enhance one another. "I enjoy moving from one project to another; I just don’t think there are any rigid boundaries where imagination and creativity are concerned. and I'm hopeful that I can remind people; to challenge them to create a peace on earth by starting within their own hearts."