For about forty years, Guy and Candie Carawan have devoted their lives to music making, collecting and spreading songs, documenting cultural expression, organizing traditional music festivals and designing workshops with the goal of empowering participants to learn and inspire others in their own communities. They have raised two chldren while living on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina, finding themselves at the forefront of the civil rights movement, and living and soaking up the culture of Appalachia -- all while Guy maintained a folk music performing career. They come to their work with a strong social conscience, a love of music and with the knowledge that music and other cultural expression is often the very brick that builds bridges between communities.

- Matt Watroba : Sing Out Magazine : Spring 2000





Guy & Candie Carawan
New Market, TN, 1982
Photographer: Eve Arnold


We feel very fortunate to have found our way to Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where we met in the Spring of 1960. This unique adult education center has brought together community people since 1932 to struggle and work together on the most pressing social and economic problems in the South. Highlander played an important role in major political movements from the labor movements of the 1930s, through the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and an Appalachian peoples' movement in the 1970s and 80s. It continues today as the Highlander Research and Education Center working on issues of economic justice and democratic participation. We have learned that singing and songwriting, poetry, story telling and drama can play a crucial supportive role in social movements and in efforts to deal with community issues and problems.

Furthermore, people's indigenous cultural expression is something of value in itself -- part of any community's heritage which can give strength, a sense of identity, and confidence. As Highlander's work shifted focus from issue to issue and region to region, the cultural fabric shifted as well. We have found ourselves working in culturally rich communities from Johns Island and the low country South Carolina sea islands, to the Appalachian coalfields and the deep black belt South during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement. Our goal here is to share with you some of this richness.


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