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Decades of 'Grace' from Richie Havens

Richie Havens in a recent photo.
Richie Havens in a recent photo.

It has been nearly 40 years since Richie Havens kicked off Woodstock with a three-hour set. With one of the most recognizable voices in popular music, Havens' fiery and soulful singing style has inspired and electrified audiences for decades.

Something Else Again (1968) became the singer's first album to hit the Billboard chart; Mixed Bag followed soon after. In 1970, Havens started his own record label, Stormy Forest, to deliver Stonehenge.

But it is Havens' live festival performances that are especially notables: the Newport Folk Festival in 1966; the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival; the 1968 Miami Pop Festival; the 1969 Woodstock Festival; the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival; and the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970 are the bedrock of his reputation. And he performed at President Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

For more than three decades, Havens has used his music to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. With more than 25 albums released and a touring schedule that would daunt many younger men, he still manages to find time for acting (Havens was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of the Who’s Tommy) and educating young people about ecological issues.

Havens' most recent album, Grace Of The Sun, was self-produced and released on his own Stormy Weather label. The songs, exotic and compelling, feature the guitar work of Walter Parks and Christopher Cunningham, as well as world musicians Badal Roy (India), Jorge Alfano (Argentina) and Hasan Isakkut (Turkey).

Copyright 2006 XPN

David Dye
David Dye is a longtime Philadelphia radio personality whose music enthusiasm has captivated listeners of World Cafe® since 1991. World Cafe is produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania.