Holly Near is a unique combination of entertainer, teacher, and activist. An immense vocal talent, Near’s career as a singer has been defined by an unwillingness to separate her passion for music from her passion for human dignity. She is a skilled performer and an outspoken ambassador for peace who brings to the stage an integration of world consciousness, spiritual discovery, and theatricality.
Although she sang in public from the age of eight, Ms. Near’s professional career began with numerous performances in film and television, and a run in the Broadway production of Hair. Torn between a career as an actor or a singer, Ms. Near chose to pursue her love of music, especially that music which articulated the social conditions of the world community.
Ms. Near’s historic papers are housed at Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library and are regarded as an informative look at the last 40 years of social change movements as experienced by a singer/songwriter/activist. Near’s participation crosses over many cultures and countries. Some samples of her work in the last few years include:
- One of the “1000 Women for Peace” nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005
- Presented at the National Women’s History Project’s 2003 conference at Smith College
- Spoke to workers at Intel’s Albuquerque, NM facility about tolerance and diversity
- Delivered the prestigious Ware Lecture for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in 2005
- Invited to sing her song Hay Una Mujer Decaparecida at Villa Grimaldi in Santiago, Chile. The villa, an infamous prison of torture and death, has been reclaimed by survivors and families and turned into a peace park.
- Joined Eve Ensler, Jane Fonda, Sally Fields, Christine Lahti, and noted Mexican performers in Juarez, Mexico to protest the uninvestigated killing of hundreds of young women
- Sat witness to the testimony of women reporting rape and other violence against women in Toledo, OH
- Participated in a two-day discussion with Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Harry Belafonte, and Pete Seeger that focused on political song, responsible citizenship and the effect that protest music has had on public policy
- Met with Mohawk and European-American women to invite spiritual healing
- Has received numerous awards including honors from the A.C.L.U., the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, Ms. Magazine (Woman of the Year), the Legends of Women’s Music Award, and Impact Fund Near’s portrait hangs at The Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio along with those of other social change artists including Paul Robeson, Marion Anderson, Pete Seeger, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, and Woody Guthrie.