Peter Yarrow—singer, songwriter, political activist, filmmaker, social entrepreneur, educator. These are just a few of the descriptors used to introduce this artist whose fame started in the 60’s as the ‘Peter’ of the Peter, Paul, and Mary folk trio. Most people are familiar with PPM as the voices of conscience for a generation but many are not aware that Peter continues as a solo artist using music as a vehicle to deliver messages of humanity and caring. As an activist, Peter has dedicated his performing and organizing skills to a wide range of issues: peace, equal rights, the environment, homelessness, education, gender equality, and hospice care.
When people think of Peter, Paul and Mary they are generally recalling the ‘classics’ penned by the gifted songwriter Yarrow including “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, “The Great Mandala”, “Day Is Done”, and “Light One Candle”. Besides the gold and platinum albums, his credits include multiple Grammy and Grammy nominations, and his television specials have been Emmy nominated.
A core piece of the Yarrow legacy is the successive generations of new songwriters recognized and nurtured throughout his career. He has created springboard platforms for young talent whose ‘write from the heart’ style might have otherwise been overlooked. Yarrow was instrumental in founding new folk artist concerts at both the Newport Folk Festival and the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival. The New Folks Concert series at the latter festival has become one of the most respected launching pads for new singer/songwriters, an achievement Peter has received recognition for.
All of Yarrow’s work and achievements have driven him to what he considers to be his most meaningful undertaking to date. This project, called Operation Respect: “Don’t Laugh at Me,” builds community and drives change based on the power of music, in particular its empowering ability for the children it inspires. The stated mission of Operation Respect is “to assure each child and youth a respectful, safe, and compassionate climate of learning where their academic, social, and emotional development can take place free of bullying, ridicule, and violence.” In 2003, a Congressional resolution recognized Yarrow’s achievements and those of Operation Respect. The program has been presented to many educational leaders and more than 10 million children. In some form, the project has reached nearly 1/3 of all elementary and middle schools in America; over 20,000 schools in all.
Peter Yarrow’s life works, an opus both musical and transformational, is an inspiration for adults as well as children, a living testament to the truth that by joining one’s voice with others each of us can become a more powerful force for positive change and social justice.
Peter Yarrow will be performing at Voices Cafe on June 22, 2012, as the culmination of its very successful inaugural season.