Owning Class Hero
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Sue Jeffers is a folksinger in the finest sense of the word, in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and all Woody’s musical offspring. She not only comes from Kent, Ohio, where four people died exercising their First Amendment rights, but had a father who introduced her to the writing of Abbie Hoffman. Beginning piano and guitar lessons before age ten and matriculating in college as a flute major, Jeffers had little choice in giving musical voice to her activist efforts and concerns. That turned into a career that has spanned more than thirty years.
"I do find music is a good way to communicate with folks that might not otherwise listen to me if I just gave a speech," she says, "but music is more part of who I am, and I just can't imagine not singing or playing. The music isn't just a vehicle to get out a message. Just like I can't imagine not doing music, "I can't imagine not singing out."
Nor does she exclusively compose message songs. She sings too of relationships and, in some of her most moving songs, brings the personal and political together. A number of songs on 2019’s Owning Class Hero, Jeffer’s eighth album but first in a dozen years, exemplifies this skill, for example, “Hey, Jeanne” and the guitar-driven “So Here We Go.” The album also displays the increasing breadth of her writing. She can excoriate the “Lunatic Fringe” and make Joe Hill’s “Preacher and Slave” her own. She channels Woody into addressing a contemporary problem in “Frickin’ Frack,” yet turns to relationship issues in “Yeah, Right.”
The Stonewall Society noticed this way back on her 1999 album, One Man's Ceiling is Just Another One's Door: "Not any sort of repeat of other artists' style or work. Sue Jeffers owns her music in the traditional style of those she is influenced by. And she does them both honor and growth."
Much like that first album title, Jeffers keeps moving forward when others try to silence her activist voice. Her voice will not be silenced. Banned from one open mic because of her views, but she finds other doors open to her because of her determination to sing her mind. Her tour schedule includes peace rallies, Earth Day celebrations, and many coffeehouses and house concerts. She still manages to hold down a day job (17 years as a computer specialist, more recently a massage therapist) while playing between 50 to 100 concerts a year. Her music has been included on compilation albums by Indiegrrl and the 1999 Musicians For Peace project.
Music comes first, but her activism hardly takes a back seat. Nor do arrests discourage Jeffers. She was one of 21 activists arrested while protesting President Reagan's "star wars" program in front of Cleveland's NASA building in the 80s. While in the holding cell, she kept up everyone's spirits with an impromptu rendition of a bluegrass anti-nuke song that turned into a cell-wide square dance. When the cops dragged her to a smaller cell away from the others, she just sang louder. Then they made the mistake of putting her in a cell with a telephone. "We called a couple of newspapers and TV stations," Jeffers remembers, "and then started singing again until the residents down a ways suggested we shut up so they could go back to sleep!"
“A worker-singer-songwriter, her voice sounds like a lower key, early Dylan, while her tasty instrumentations have a trance like hook after awhile,” Earth First Media.
  • Members:
    Sue Jeffers
  • Sounds Like:
  • Influences:
    phil ochs, pete seeger, buffy sainte-marie, system of a down, johnny cash, minutemen, leadbelly, john denver, gil scott-heron
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  • Profile Last Updated:
    12/30/18 00:53:22
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