Renowned Folk Artist to Perform at EMU

John McCutcheon John McCutcheon

Five-time Grammy nominee and beloved folk musician John McCutcheon, will perform “songs of peace and justice” in concert 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Eastern Mennonite University.

McCutcheon blends songs and stories with humor and insight, displaying his talents through playing the banjo, guitar, fiddle, autoharp, mountain dulcimer and jaw harp.

Widely recognized as a world master of the hammer dulcimer, he has pushed the boundaries of the instrument, exposing it to country, rock and jazz audiences.

McCutcheon has emerged as one of the country’s most respected and loved folksingers. At the forefront of redefining “children’s music,” he introduced the concept of the “family album” music to be loved by parents and children alike.

McCutcheon’s songwriting has been hailed by critics and singers around the globe; his 29 recordings have garnered many honors, including five Grammy nominations. His 2album, “The Greatest Story Never Told,” has been widely heralded as the finest of his career.

Even before graduating from St. John’s University, this Wisconsin native literally “headed for the hills,” forgoing a college lecture hall for the classrooms to be found in eastern Kentucky coal camps, union halls, country churches and square dance venues.

McCutcheon’s apprenticeships to legendary figures in Appalachian music instilled in him a love of not only homemade music, but a sense of community and rootedness. He became a knowledgeable and powerful singer of traditional material added to his own wry wit and ear for a good story. The result is music – whether traditional or from his huge catalog of original songs – with the profound mark of place, family and strength.

A California Bay Area newspaper exclaimed, “The pithy insight of Will Rogers, the understated delivery of Garrison Keillor, the song leading ability of Pete Seeger and the virtuosity of an orchestra . . . John McCutcheon is a national folk treasure!”

Called “Virginia’s rustic renaissance man” by the Washington Post, McCutcheon combines the versatility, energy and sense of fun so evident on his recordings with a magnetism that involves parents and children alike. Not satisfied being merely an entertainer, McCutcheon teaches his audiences how to make music themselves: in groups or all alone. And he weaves tales as modern fables, rich in history and universal in scope. “Watching him is like having a conversation with an illuminating old friend,” said one critic.

The artist’s appearance will help launch a June 3-5 10-year anniversary celebration of the Conflict Transformation Program (CTP) at EMU. Over the past 10 years more than 1,500 people from 83 countries have taken one or more of its courses in peacebuilding, restorative justice and trauma healing, with 160 of these earning a masters degree or graduate certificate in Conflict Transformation.

This occasion will mark a name change from Conflict Transformation Program to “Center for Justice and Peacebuilding,” or CJP.

Advance tickets are $15, available from the EMU box office, 540-432-4582. Admission is $18 at the door.