2002 Update

Welcome sistahs, brothas, comrades, dykes to Faithnet, your update on Faith Nolan's recent gigs, events and activism working toward social justice.

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After an exciting tour of the US, Britain and Nigeria, I am back in Toronto, and available for gigs from November 2002. Please contact me on faith@nexicom.net or 416 537 8194.

Ever since I saw jazz pianist Mary Watkins play at a women's music festival in the 70s, it has been my ambition to play with this creative genius. What better for my next CD, than a live performance with Mary Watkins. The recording was made at La Pena community arts venue in Berkeley, CA and focuses on merging traditional blues with my own stylings. Copies of FAITH LIVE are now available.

Continuing my lifelong commitment to expressing workers struggles through music, I have worked in partnership with two union choirs made up of rank and file members this year. The CDs that came out of this collaboration - Overloaded, Fed Up and On the Line (CUPE ithompson@cupe.ca), Let it Shine 519 (SEIU cjean@sieu22.com 519 432 2661 x229) - aim to tell the stories of working people through music and create songs to share in union halls, on the picket lines and in the streets.

The video recording "Within These Cages" is set in the San Francisco County jail, where I led a music workshop with women prisoners. Through songs the women share an emotional and cultural expression which shows art as a form of survival. The video, directed by Melanya Liwanag Aguila, is 7mins long and is available through www.vtape.org 416 351 1317.

At a time when the US stands on the verge of leading us into a 3rd world war, it is critical to build alliances with progressive anti-war groups in the US. This year I spent some time south of the border, building solidarity with women of colour in the US. "Practicing Transgressions", the 20th anniversary celebration of "This Bridge Called My Back" in Berkeley, CA marked two decades of creative writing by radical women of colour. Continuing in the footsteps of women like Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua, a new generation of women organized The Color of Violence II, a conference of women of colour organizing against all forms of violence, which took place in Chicago. Other events in the US included Berkeley Earth Day, an environmental festival, People for the American Way, a progressive faith organization and the San Francisco Dyke March. As usual, I also played for women prisoners at the San Francisco County Jail.

Women's resistance within Canada was at a high point this last year, with organizing against war, poverty and violence more critical than ever. I was honored to participate in the groundbreaking Women's Resistance Conference hosted by CAEFS and NASAC in Ottawa, October 2001. Other feminist events included the Women's March Against Poverty attended by over 50,000 in Ottawa; Sistering Homeless Women's Drop-In; the Women's Community House, London; Chatham/Kent Sexual Assault Centre; Ottawa Women's Voices Music Festival; Keewatin Benefit for Women's Shelter; and Kenora IWD.

Black History Month continues to be an under-funded but important time of the year to acknowledge the struggles and contributions of people of African descent throughout the diapora. I was therefore pleased to play as part of Black History Month celebrations at Ottawa University , Carleton University, Seneca College, Peel Board of Education,York Woods Library, Peterborough Community and Race Relations and a number of schools within the Toronto Schools District as well as at the Nia Kuumba Scholarship Fundraiser. I would particularly like to give a heads up to the Afro Nova Scotians who continue to wage a struggle for equality and to reclaim the Africville land. We must also remember the struggles of the Mohawks in Kanehsatake, and I continue to support our various nations efforts to reclaim their land and sovereignty.

Corporate globalization and greed reached new heights this year, and union activism was involved in challenging the fat cats. In addition to the two CDs, and singing on the picket lines, I performed for: Labour Day, CAW; Steelworkers International Women's Day Celebration; CUPE National Convention; OPSEU Convention; SEIU Local 220; and CUPE, New Glasgow. Playing in Tent City in solidarity with the homeless in Toronto inspired me to write a new song "Brand New City" which appears on the Live CD.

In August 2002, I attended the International Conference on Penal Abolition in Lagos, Nigeria. As part of the conference, I performed at the African Shrine, a centre dedicated to the memory of radical anti-corruption activist and King of Highlife - Fela Kuti. I also visited KiriKiri prison in Lagos and Enugu prison in the oil-rich south-east, where Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa prisoners sang along to Bob Marley songs, as well as singing their own songs in pidgin about prison life: "If you see my mother, tell her I go na prison yard.". Conditions in Nigerian prisons, where women are held in a crowded compound within the male prison yard, and over 70% are illegally detained awaiting trial for up to 20 years, are horrendous and I will be working with activists in Lagos in the coming months to campaign against the inhumane prison conditions.I am in a process of creating a set of songs which tell the stories about prisoners and ex prisoners which I hope to record on CD to get the information out there. I also recorded on DAT some live music about prison and some interviews which I am editing for progressive radio.

Stay strong, committed and humane. We will win because we must. Love Faith