Anne Feeney, American folk singer, songwriter and trade union activist died on 3rd February.
Anne visited Cork in 2013 and in spite of serious health issues was determined to return and sing at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
When she did return in 2014 Anne sang at the Cork Singers Club on the opening night and later in a concert with Si Kahn at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in 2014. Anne and Si’s rousing version of Solidarity Forever literally raised the roof of the Firkin Theatre on that evening of Thursday 31st July.
Her labour activism and love of Mother Jones was derived from William Patrick Feeney, her grandfather who was a union organiser. Anne’s unique “Business Card” states her occupation simply as Folksinger/Agitator. The card also contains the quote from Utah Phillips “Anne Feeney is the best labor singer in North America”
In tracks such as “We Fought Back“, “How Much for the Life of a Miner“, “How Long?“, “Whatever Happened to the Eight Hour Day?”, her songs about respect for workers and working class solidarity display an uncompromising edge. Anne always let people know which side she was on.
Direct and honest and her lyrics reflect this. She sang of Santiago Cruz, Fanny Sellins and Mother Jones, and sang with Pete Seeger, Si Kahn, Loretto Lynn and Billy Bragg and so many others at concerts and fundraisers all over the place.
The US Labour Heritage Foundation awarded her the Joe Hill Award in 2005.
Anne Feeney spent a lifetime of activism and her songs and albums reflected her total dedication to the fight against injustice. She always maintained that songs and music empower people to challenge and question oppression.
Anne loved Ireland, and she travelled all over the country during her Enchanted Way Tours. Her 2010 album Anne Feeney: Enchanted Way, demonstrated her versatility with some Irish classics like “Raglan Road” and “Hey, Ronnie Reagan!” Her website and blog demonstrate her never-ending activism and her practical support for the labour movement throughout America and elsewhere.
In the preamble to her 2008 Album, Dump the Bosses Off Your Back she stated,
“The working people of this country are an amazing lot. Against all odds, they will walk off their jobs and strike, enduring significant hardships sometimes for months and even years – and why? To protect future generations of workers – and to preserve elusive concepts like “dignity” and “respect”. The generosity of the American working class and their willingness to help others is downright awe-inspiring.”Anne Feeney
Anne herself was truly inspiring and was supportive of our efforts to keep the memory of her hero Mother Jones alive and is fondly remembered by her friends on the Cork Mother Jones Committee.
To her daughter Amy Berlin and son Dan and her family and friends we express our sympathy and solidarity.