Anne Feeney, songwriter and political activist, dies at 69


Ms. Feeney, a self-described “hell raiser” with a velvety voice and luxurious pink locks, started an expert recording profession within the late 1980s after working as a trial lawyer for greater than 10 years. As a musician, she blended components of Irish, bluegrass, people and pop music whereas coupling lots of her melodies with political lyrics, generally tinged with satire and humor, that have been paying homage to the ’60s protest songs.

Was it Cesar Chavez? Possibly it was Dorothy Day

Some will say Dr. King or Gandhi set them on their method

Regardless of who your mentors are it’s fairly plain to see

That, for those who’ve been to jail for justice, you’re in good firm.

Within the 2000 documentary, “That is What Democracy Appears Like,” she may be seen singing about civil disobedience on a stage with the United Steelworkers of America on the 1999 World Commerce Group protests in Seattle. As she sings, the video reveals police arresting demonstrators.

Ms. Feeney usually spent between 200 and 300 days out of the 12 months on tour, acting at people festivals, festivals and live performance halls throughout the nation and in Europe. She toured at occasions with Pete Seeger, Loretta Lynn, John Prine and the Indigo Women.

As an activist singer, she raised cash for union outlets and progressive causes, acting at church buildings, picket traces and labor and political demonstrations, together with the 2004 March for Girls’s Lives on the Nationwide Mall in Washington.

“She would monitor the place staff have been on strike. She simply wasn’t singing in regards to the union motion, she was a part of the motion,” mentioned Evan Greer, a musician, songwriter and activist who toured with Ms. Feeney for about 9 years till well being issues in 2015 prevented her from touring. “She was at all times passing the hat at her gigs for one strike fund or one other, even when she was scraping herself.”

Ms. Feeney, who served as president of the Pittsburgh Musicians’ Union from 1997 to 1998 and was its first and solely lady elected to that put up, took a hiatus from performing in 2010 when she was recognized with single cell lung most cancers and informed she may solely have weeks to dwell. She recovered and proceed to tour till the most cancers returned in 2015. She then did occasional reveals, most just lately a digital on-line efficiency in December.

Anne Feeney was born July 1, 1951 in Charleroi, Pa., a blue-collar city on the banks of the Monongahela River, and grew up about 20 miles to the north within the Pittsburgh suburb of Brookline. Her father was an engineer at Westinghouse Electrical Co., and her mom was a homemaker.

A descendant of Irish immigrants who labored within the coal mines of Southwestern Pennsylvania, conventional Irish music and singing have been a continuing within the household house. Years later, she organized and led summer season singing excursions of Eire.

Ms. Feeney began enjoying the guitar in highschool and carried out publicly for the primary time at an antiwar protest in 1969.

Whereas attending the College of Pittsburgh, she joined the antiwar and anti-apartheid group Considering College students for Peace and was arrested in 1972 whereas protesting the renomination of President Richard M. Nixon on the Republican Nationwide Conference in Miami Seaside. She additionally served on a committee that began the rape disaster heart Pittsburgh Motion In opposition to Rape.

She graduated from Pitt with a bachelor’s diploma in 1974 and a legislation diploma 4 years later. She labored greater than 10 years as a trial lawyer however solely took on circumstances she believed in, mentioned her cousin, Kimberly Sever. “Anne approached all the pieces she cared about with the identical tenacious ardour,” Sever mentioned.

Her marriage to Ron Berlin, with whom she had two youngsters, resulted in divorce. In 2002, she married Swedish political artist Julie Leonardsson.

Along with her husband, of Kopparberg, Sweden, and her daughter, Amy Sue Berlin of Austin, survivors embrace a son, Dan Feeney of Mexico Metropolis; and a sister.

“She believed within the energy of music to succeed in and encourage individuals in a method that you just couldn’t in an essay or speech,” Greer mentioned. “Whereas she had strongly held political beliefs and labored her entire life for the issues she believed in, she at all times did it with love and pleasure even because it was backed up with anger at injustice.”



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