Richie Havens
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Richie Havens

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Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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"Performing Songwriter"

"Has never seemed more relevant to the current state of world affairs..."
- Performing Songwriter, Sept./Oct. '04


"magnificent"

"Nothing short of magnificent..."

- Relix, Sept./Oct. '04


"Guitar Player"

"As vibrant and purposeful as ever..."


- Guitar Player, Oct. '04


"Richie Havens, Live at NPR West"

Richie Havens, Live at NPR West
Woodstock legend's live in-studio performance:

The Tavis Smiley Show, August 11, 2004 ยท Richie Havens will be forever remembered for his powerful performance of the song "Freedom" at perhaps the best-known music festival ever -- the three days of peace, love and music at Woodstock, New York, in 1969.
It was the "coming out" party of the rock 'n 'roll generation. And as Havens tells NPR's Tony Cox, "it was the begining of the world, as far I was concerned."
As Woodstock's opening act, Havens was scheduled to spend just 20 minutes on stage. But after his set, he was asked to keep singing because the second act, Santana, was nowhere to be found.
"So I'd go back and sing three more," Havens says. "This happened six times. So I sung every song I knew."
By that time, Havens had been onstage almost three hours -- and still they needed more. "And I thought, 'Gosh, what am I going to do?'"
Then he belted out "Freedom," and his electric ad-lib performance set the tone for the next three days. "The word 'freedom' came out of my mouth because this was our real particular freedom," he tells Cox. "We'd finally made it to above ground."
Decades later, Havens is still making music. His latest CD is Grace of the Sun.
- NPR


Discography

Grace of the Sun 2004
Dreaming As One: The A&M Years 2004
High Flyin' Bird: The Verve Forecast Years 2004
Wishing Well - 2002
Best of... - 2000
Time - 1999
The Classics - 1995
Cuts to the Chase - 1994
Resume - 1993
Now - 1991
Live At The Cellar Door - 1990
Collection - 1987
Sings Beatles and Dylan - 1987
Simple Things - 1987
Common Ground - 1983
Connections - 1980
Mirage - 1977
The End of the Beginning - 1976
Mixed Bag II - 1974
Portfolio - 1973
On Stage - 1972
The Great Blind Degree - 1971
Alarm Clock - 1971
Stonehenge - 1970
Richie Havens' Record - 1969
Richard P. Havens - 1969
Electric Havens - 1968
Something Else Again - 1968
Mixed Bag - 1967

Photos

Bio

Richie Havens is gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music. His fiery, poignant, always soulful singing style has remained unique and ageless since he first emerged from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960's. For three decades, Havens has used his music to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. With over twenty albums released and a rigorous touring schedule, he continues to view his calling as a high one. As he told The Denver Post, "I really sing songs that move me. I'm not in show business; I'm in the communications business. That's what it's about for me."

Born in Brooklyn, Richard P. Havens grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant community, the eldest of nine children. Havens left Bedford-Stuyvesant and sought out the artistic stimulation of Greenwich Village. "I saw the Village as a place you could escape to and express yourself," he recalls. "I first went there to perform poetry in the late 50's during the beatnik days. Then I drew portraits for about two years. I'd stay up all night listening to folk music in the clubs, but it took a while before I thought of picking up a guitar." Nina Simone had been a key vocal influence early on; Paul Stookey, Len Chandler, and Dino Valenti were among the folk singers who had an impact on Havens during this period.

Havens' reputation as a solo performer soon spread throughout the Village folk circles and beyond. He recorded two albums' worth of demos for Douglas International in 1965 and '66, though none of the tracks were released at the time.

After joining forces with legendary manager Albert Grossman, Richie landed his first deal with the Verve label, which released Mixed Bag in 1967. This auspicious debut album featured standout tracks like "Handsome Johnny," Jerry Merrick's "Follow" (later heard on the soundtrack to the hit 1978 film Coming Home), and a striking version of Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman" that earned Havens his reputation as a premier interpreter of Dylan's material.

It was as a live performer that Havens first earned widespread notice. By decade's end, he was in great demand in colleges across the country ("I must have played every campus in America at least three times," he says, grateful for students' early support), as well as on the international folk and pop club circuit. Richie played the 1966 Newport Folk Festival; the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival; the January 1968 Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall; the December 1968 Miami Pop Festival; the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival; and, of course, the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York.

Havens' Woodstock appearance proved to be a major turning point in his career. As the festival's opening act, he held the multitudes spellbound for nearly three hours. Called back for yet another encore, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual "Motherless Child" that became "Freedom," which eventually reached an audience of millions.

Havens also branched out into acting during the 1970's. He was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who's Tommy, had the lead role in the 1974 film version of Catch My Soul (based on Shakespeare's Othello) and co-starred with comedian Richard Pryor in Greased Lightning (1977).

Increasingly, Havens devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970's, he co-founded the Northwinds Undersea Institute, an oceanographic museum for children on City Island in the Bronx. This in turn led to Havens founding of the Natural Guard in early 1990. Havens describes the organization as "a way of helping kids to learn that they can play a hands-on role in affecting the environment. Children study the land, water, and air in their own communities and see how they can make positive changes." Based in New Haven, Connecticut, the Natural Guard now has chapters across the Americas, from Brooklyn to Hawaii to Belize, and continues to grow.

The 1980's were productive years for Havens. He spent much time performing for his devoted fans in Europe, especially Italy, where he also produced his Common Ground album with Italian artist Pino Danniele (Connection, 1987). Back in the states toward the end of the decade and into the 1990's, he recorded the albums Simple Things (RBI, 1988) and Now (Solar/Epic, 1991, reissued by Solar as Yes in 1994 against Richie's expressed wishes).

Havens also became an oft-heard voice on the airwaves through his extensive radio and TV voice-over work on behalf of such major clients as McDonald's and Kodak (for which he earned Clio Awards), Budweiser, the Cotton Association of America, and AMTRAK.

Havens delivered a landmark Madison Square Garden performance on October 16, 1992, at the Columbia Records concert saluting Bob Dylan's 30 years of recording. Richie's show-stopping version of "Just Like A Woman" was hailed by many as one of the all-star show's finest performances (it's now out on CD and video). Then, in Januar