Obit: Jon Fromer (1946-2013)
ADD: Welcome (Jon Fromer) [rec by Roy Bailey] (14)
Subject: Obit: Jon Fromer (1946-2013)|
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jan 14 - 12:32 AM
Here's the obituary from New Deal, the Summer 2013 newsletter of North American Traveling Musicians Local 1000
Gonna Take Us All: Remembering Jon Fromer
How do you sum up a life in a few words? How do you bid farewell to a friend and mentor whose talent and convictions were surpassed only by his devotion and love? You could Google the name Jon Fromer, and find a list of accolades, awards, and honors, and still have no real sense of the passionate gentle soul behind all of those accomplishments. Jon Fromer was a remarkable man, and I am pleased to say he was my friend. But he was a friend to literally thousands of people. It is hard to believe that we will never again hear his soulful voice reverberate through our concert halls or on our picket lines. But he left a legacy of songs, and an indelible mark on the hearts of those who knew him that will continue to ripple outward for generations.
Jon Fromer was born in Chicago in 1946. His family moved to San Francisco in 1950, where Jon lived for the rest of his life. His parents were friends with Pete Seeger and Studs Terkel, whom Jon counted as his own mentors. As a teenager Jon participated in the historic Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, advocating for fair voting laws and practices. And from that moment forward, Jon never stopped marching and demonstrating, singing and writing, recording and holding the line for justice and dignity.
And on that life-long journey, our beloved departed brother helped change the lives of so many people. While many people in the Local 1000 community knew of Jon as a songwriter and activist, fewer people knew that he won more than a dozen Emmy Awards for his work in Public Television (KQED). Even fewer knew that as a young man, he was a world-class soccer player who was chosen as an alternate for the US Men's Olympic Soccer Team. Jon was full of surprises. Back in the day, he had a recording deal with Mercury Records, singing with his brother David in the trio, Jonathan, David & Elbert. In the last 20 years or so, Jon released several records of original music, and traveled all over the world, often with his dear friend Francisco Herrera, singing
and playing his unique songs.
Particularly noteworthy is the kind of music he wrote. Jon drew on Soul, R & B, Gospel, and pop influences to create songs of hope, healing, dignity, and justice that defied the typical confines of folk music. He befriended rappers and beat poets, musicians young and old, and was always learning and becoming a better musical craftsman; always growing and expanding his knowledge and skill-set. No musician can strive for more. Jon was also given the Joe Hill Lifetime Achievement Award from the Labor Heritage Foundation.
Jon's greatest joy however was his beloved wife Mary, who often traveled with him and was the source of the deep love that he manifest in the world through his music, activism, and television career. He spoke of her often, and she too became a friend to so many of us. We send our deepest condolences to Mary and their entire family, and we share in the bittersweet joy of honoring his presence among us, and the sadness of his untimely departure. On January 2nd 2013, surrounded by friends and family, Jon succumbed to a two-year struggle with stomach cancer at his Mill Valley home in California.
I was blessed to speak with Jon just two days before he passed. He was busy recording an album of new songs. That's how he spent his last days; surrounded by his loved ones and working to give us all one last
collection of his marvelously crafted songs. At the end of our brief conversation Jon said simply this, "Keep making the music of the people, such beautiful music!" And so we shall, Jon. We will keep your
songs alive, and we will keep writing new ones in your honor. We will hold you in our hearts when "We Do The Work" you demonstrated so elegantly. From the SOA Watch in Columbus, Georgia to music festivals in Spain; from the Mission District of San Francisco to the streets of Detroit and Washington, DC you gave of yourself to bring hope to so many. So will we strive love the world and all of her people, and
work to welcome every generation into the struggle for equality, justice and dignity, following in your footsteps.
It's your land too now,
I want to shake your hand
Want to know your story,
The journey you've been on
Want to hear your language,
Want to learn your songs
The earth knows no borders,
Just one sky above
And friendship has no fences
No walls can stop the love
*From Jon Fromer's, Welcome.
For more information,
please visit www.jonfromer.com.