The Winnipeg Folk Festival announced that folk legend Oscar Brand will receive the festival’s 2011 Artistic Achievement Award. The award recognizes outstanding artistic achievement of a festival performer who has demonstrated musical excellence and contributed at an exceptional level to the field of folk music as a whole.
Born in Winnipeg in 1920, Oscar Brand is a living legend – a composer, author, and host of the longest-running radio show in history, Folksong Festival, now in its 66th year. “I am exceedingly grateful for this award,” said 91 year-old Brand. “I am proud of the fields where I was born and which I will always share with you. Thank you for bringing me home.”
Brand has recorded 90 LPs, and written songs for the likes of Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, and Harry Belafonte. He is well known for writing catchy lyrics including the theme to his early-60’s television show Let’s Sing Out. The show’s theme song, This Land of Ours (Something to Sing About), is celebrated as one of Canada’s most beloved national folk songs.
Brand was at the very first Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1974 and returned to perform again in 1980. In 2010 he graced the Winnipeg Folk Festival once again for a memorable afternoon workshop when he was also inducted into Manitoba’s Order of the Buffalo Hunt, one of the province’s highest honors.
Brand studied psychology at Brooklyn College, is a laureate of Fairfield University and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg. His prolific career as a songwriter and recording artist is perhaps matched only by his iconic, Emmy-winning role in television where he helped create “Sesame Street.”
The 2011 Artistic Achievement Award will be presented to Oscar Brand on December 1, 2011 at the Winter Wassail, the annual fundraiser in support of the festival’s education and outreach programs. Fred Penner, the festival’s education and outreach ambassador, will be on hand to host the event. The 2010 Wassail raised $40,000 for programs that supported programming for more than 10,000 participants. With the expansion of and demand for these programs, the support provided by this year’s event is more important than ever.
The Winter Wassail takes place at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on Thursday, December 1, 2011. Tickets are $150 and are on sale now through the Winnipeg Folk Festival office at 231-0096. A tax receipt will be issued for the charitable portion of the ticket price. More information is available at winnipegfolkfestival.ca.