About Noel

About Noel

Noel Paul Stookey
Noel Paul Stookey

Having recently celebrated his 86th birthday and his 65th year as a recognized activist singer/songwriter, Noel Paul Stookey continues his contribution to America's musical history with his most recent release FAZZ:NOW&THEN. With a title based on a term coined by the Dave Brubeck Quartet member Paul Desmond during a tour with Peter, Noel and Mary at the midpoint of the 20th century, the album contains 20 tracks, the major portion of them original and all of them quintessentially Stookey.

During these past several years of the pandemic and subsequent virtual performances, Noel has lent his talents to many an online cause, and while lamenting the lack of shared same-space studio time, nonetheless has managed to find ways to collaborate with singers, songwriters and other musicians across the country. His lyric contribution to “Reverence,” originally a big band song written by jazz saxophonist David Mann, has resulted in a powerful gospel-like duet with famed vocalist Theresa Thomason that calls for us to recognize the interdependence of all that's living.

Noel has been altering both the musical and ethical landscape of this country and the world for decades—both as the “Paul” of the legendary Peter, Paul and Mary and as an independent musician who passionately believes in bringing the spiritual into the practice of daily life. Funny, irreverently reverent, thoughtful, compassionately passionate, his voice is known all across this land, from the “Wedding Song” to “In These Times.”

While acknowledging his history and the meaningful association with Peter and Mary—the trio perhaps best known for its blend of modern folk music and social activism, rallying support for safe energy, peace and civil rights at some of the most iconic events in our history, including the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King—Noel has stepped beyond the nostalgia of the folk era. Nearly $2 million, earned from his now-classic “Wedding Song,” were used to fund the work of other socially responsible artists, which inspired Noel in 2001, along with his daughter Liz Stookey Sunde, to launch Music To Life, a nonprofit utilizing groundbreaking ways to bring music to life for social change through technology, entertainment, artist collaboration and education.

Music to Life

Music to Life is a national nonprofit founded by Noel and his daughter, Liz Sunde to connect socially conscious musicians with the resources they need to realize their bold visions for community change. Through training, mentorship and an active network of community allies, Music to Life mobilizes our nation's musicians into changemakers and social entrepreneurs, serving 500+ diverse and talented musicians in 42 states and 300+ communities.

Whether judged by the subject matter of his current recorded repertoire or by virtue of his active involvement with Music to Life and artists across genres, issue areas and generations, Noel's current musical outlook continues to be fresh, optimistic and encouraging—albeit occasionally politically pointed—conceivably his best known commentary entitled “Impeachable” (based on the familiar melody of “Unforgettable”) reached viral status with the on-line community, yielding over a million Facebook/YouTube views.

FAZZ: NOW & THENFazz:NOW&THEN

About Noel’s latest musical work, FAZZ:NOW&THEN: The 20 songs offered on the album are a reflection of how the interpretative nature of jazz has impacted Noel's creative impulses over the past 60 years. He maintains that a lyric, particularly one that tells a story, has a unique impact if presented within a chord structure that surprises (and sometimes challenges) the expectations of the listener.

As Noel says in the liner notes of the new album, “I'm a great believer in 'alternative' chords…color chords they're sometimes called. If you have an ear for musical nuance, you can readily hear the difference between an A major chord and its smoky, mysterious cousin the A major 7th.” He nonetheless admits that the application of these chordal variations should be judicious, as they may not always be appropriate to the task. Case in point: tuning backstage with Peter Yarrow one evening and being cautioned that one does not use a Major 7th while playing a Woody Guthrie tune. Even so, says Noel, “...every song is not a sing-along, and every melody deserves its own place in the sun.”

Just Causes
Just Causes

Just Causes

In March of 2021, New World Multimedia released a 15-track collection of songs related to social concerns and issues titled JUST CAUSES. The profits stemming from the sale of the album are being distributed to those charitable organizations whose programs Noel says match the individual themes of the songs.

Danny's Downs

Danny’s Downs” contributes profits to the National Down Syndrome Congress, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum receives profits for the “Jean Claude” song, and the funding from “Not That Kind of Music” goes to Music To Life. Go to MusicToLife.org, and see the impact young singer/songwriters can have on their communities and will have with the kind of mentorship, leadership and support that Music To Life has given them.

Revolution (1x1)

Possibly the most representative tune on the album, in terms of its attitude, is “Revolution (1×1),” which benefits the spiritual renewal/social justice initiative Sojourners. One of the people on the team did a beautiful music-video combination of photos of smiling faces, encouraging faces, thumbs-up faces and crazy faces to illustrate, as the bridge says: “We’re a raggle-taggle army, got no uniform or guns. / Still we've been called by coincidence, so maybe we’re the ones / To take this revolution to the street, smile at every solitary person that we meet. / We’re gonna wave at total strangers, no matter where they’re from. / Gonna start a revolution, gonna win it one by one.”

“The theory being,” says Noel, “if there’s gonna be peace on earth, it's going to begin with each one of us. There is a thread running through much of the music on the album that speaks to the fact that if we’re gonna find the answer, we’re gonna find it through this mechanism, this life-giving force called Love… Coming out of the pandemic, I think we’re recognizing that we have an opportunity to build back better, to quote a political phrase from someone who just became president. I think we all have an opportunity to build back better, both in our personal lives and in our public lives.”

Somethin' Special

Something SpecialA musical offering from Noel for the 2018 holiday season is called (appropriately) SOMETHIN' SPECIAL: A NOEL PAUL STOOKEY HOLIDAY RECOLLECTION. The CD features newer versions of previously recorded tunes, unique arrangements of classic holiday songs and pieces created recently in the spirit of the holiday season. As the liner notes for these sparkling 12 tunes suggest, “... a 'recollection' can be a distant memory—suddenly recalled—or in this instance, a gathering of childhood stories unique to the holidays. Some are highly personal,” says Noel, “some are musical remembrances of Christmases in concert with Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers, but most of the songs reflect an evolving appreciation of the reason for the holiday: the birth of Christ.”

At Home

Noel and Betty moved with their three daughters to the coast of Maine over forty-five years ago. Since that time he has done the occasional home town benefit and the here-and-there in-state show but never had undertaken a concentrated tour in one season until 2012. “On that occasion, I recorded all 9 of my Maine concerts last summer—from Ogunquit to Eastport—check THAT out on a map” he says, “and though not all of the video or audio made 'prime time,’ I was able to collect 24 music videos for the DVD and (amazingly) fit all 24 songs on the CD to create AT HOME: THE MAINE TOUR package.”

At HomeThe songs in the AT HOME release represent a broad range: “The Cabin Fever Waltz” (homage to the rigors of enduring the lengthened winter in Maine), a new version of “Whatshername” (a bittersweet jazz shaded reminiscence of a middle-aged man in denial), “Familia del Corazon” (a new song that speaks to the immigration issue in compassionate rather than political terms), “Wedding Song” (with the “original” lyric and a spoken introduction—DVD only) and “The Lady Says She Don't Like Jazz” (a commentary on a common misperception of the creative process).

Noel hesitates to call AT HOME a memoir, though it does span 50 years of his music. Still, he appreciates the fact that (1) it's all about the music—95% of the visual is in performance, (2) the camera work is intimate—both fixed and handheld coverage by videographers sharing the stage during performance, and (3) it's as relaxed and “Stookey” as it can get, what with no accompaniment except his guitar. “Sort of what you'd expect if we were AT HOME," he confides.

AT HOME may not be a memoir, but Noel is working on an autobiography that hopefully will be published in 2024. He has been writing it with assistance from Jeanne Torrence Finley, who will be moderating a book blog on this site in the near future. It will feature excerpts from their working interviews, vignettes from Noel’s life, and conversations about Noel’s music. Keep an eye out for its debut date!

Recordings

FAZZ:NOW&THEN is accessible only on the NOELPAULSTOOKEY.COM site beginning February 22, 2022. Amazon, Spotify and other resale agencies will have to wait until March 22 to post it's availability. The 20 songs offered on the album are a reflection of how the interpretative nature of jazz has impacted Noel's creative impulses over the past 60 years. He maintains that a lyric, particularly one that tells a story, has a unique impact if presented within a chord structure that surprises (and sometimes challenges) the expectations of the listener.

As Noel says in the liner notes the new album, “I'm a great believer in 'alternative' chords...color chords they're sometimes called. If you have an ear for musical nuance, you can readily hear the difference between an A major chord and it's smoky, mysterious cousin the A major 7th.” He nonetheless admits that the application of these chordal variations should be judicious, as they may not always be appropriate to the task. Case in point: tuning backstage with Peter Yarrow one evening and being cautioned that one does not use a Major 7th while playing a Woody Guthrie tune. Even so, says Noel “...every song is not a sing-along, and every melody deserves its own place in the sun.”

In March of 2021, NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA released a 15 track collection of songs related to social concerns and issues titled JUST CAUSES. The profits stemming from the sale of the album are being distributed to those charitable organizations whose programs Noel says match the individual themes of the songs.

“Danny’s Downs” contributes profits to the National Down Syndrome Congress, the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum receives profits for the “Jean Claude” song and the funding [from “Not That Kind of Music”] went to Music To Life. Go to MusicToLife.org, and see the impact young singer/songwriters can have on their communities and will have with the kind of mentorship, leadership and support that Music To Life has given them.

Possibly the most representative tune on the abum, in terms of its attitude, is “Revolution (1×1),” [which benefits the spiritual renewal/social justice initiative Sojourners]. One of the people on the team did a beautiful [music video] combination of photos of smiling faces, encouraging faces, thumbs up faces and crazy faces [to illustrate], as the bridge says: “We’re a raggle-taggle army, got no uniform or guns. Still we been called by coincidence, so maybe we’re the ones. To take this revolution to the street, smile at every solitary person that we meet. We’re gonna wave at total strangers, no matter where they’re from. Gonna start a revolution, gonna win it one by one.”

“The theory being,” says Noel “if there’s gonna be peace on earth, it's going to begin with each one of us. There is a thread running through much of the music on the album that speaks to the fact that if we’re gonna find the answer, we’re gonna find it through this mechanism, this life-giving force called love…Coming out of the pandemic, I think we’re recognizing that we have an opportunity to build back better, to quote a political phrase from someone who just became president. I think we all have an opportunity to build back better, both in our personal lives and in our public lives. “

A musical offering from Noel for the 2018 holiday season is called (appropriately) SOMETHIN' SPECIAL, A HOLIDAY RECOLLECTION. The CD features newer versions of previously recorded tunes, unique arrangements of classic holiday songs and pieces created recently in the spirit of the Holiday season. As the liner notes for these sparkling 12 tunes suggest, “...a 'recollection' can be a distant memory – suddenly recalled – or in this instance, a gathering of childhood stories unique to the Holidays. Some are highly personal,” says Stookey, “some are musical remembrances of Christmases in concert with Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers, but most of the songs reflect an evolving appreciation of the reason for the holiday: the birth of Christ.

Noel and Betty moved with their three daughters to the coast of Maine over forty-five years ago. Since that time he has done the occasional home town benefit and the here-and-there in-state show but never had undertaken a concentrated tour in one season until 2012. “On that occasion, I recorded all 9 of my Maine concerts last summer - from Ogunquit to Eastport - check THAT out on a map” he says, “and, though not all of the video or audio made 'prime time', I was able to collect 24 music videos for the DVD and (amazingly) fit all 24 songs on the CD to create AT HOME: the maine tour package.”

The songs in the AT HOME release represent a broad range: THE CABIN FEVER WALTZ (homage to the rigors of enduring the lengthened winter in maine), a new version of WHATSHERNAME (a bittersweet jazz shaded reminiscence of a middle-aged man in denial) originally recorded on the PP&M 1700 album, FAMILIA DEL CORAZON (a new song that speaks to the immigration issue in compassionate rather than political terms), WEDDING SONG (with the 'original' lyric and a spoken introduction - DVD only) and THE LADY SAYS SHE DON'T LIKE JAZZ (a commentary on a common misperception of the creative process).

Noel hesitates to call this release a memoir - though it does span 50 years of his music - still, he appreciates the fact that 1) it's all about the music - 95% of the visual is 'in performance', 2) the camera work is intimate - both fixed and handheld coverage by videographers sharing the stage during performance and 3) it's as relaxed and 'stookey' as it can get - what with no accompaniment except his guitar. “…sort of what you'd expect if we were AT HOME…” he confides.

About Noel (original - to be removed)

Noel Paul Stookey - at homeHaving recently celebrated his 84th birthday and his 63rd year as a recognized activist singer/songwriter, Noel Paul Stookey continues his contribution to America's musical history with his most recent release FAZZ:NOW&THEN. With a title based on a term coined by the Dave Brubeck Quartet member Paul Desmond during a tour with Peter, Noel and Mary at the midpoint of the 20th century, the album contains 20 tracks, the major portion of them original and all of them quintessentially Stookey.

During these past several years of the pandemic and subsequent 'virtual' performances, Noel has lent his talents to many an online cause and, while lamenting the lack of shared same-space studio time with other musicians, nonetheless has managed to find ways to collaborate with writers across the country. His lyric contribution to “Reverence”, originally a big band song written by jazz saxophonist David Mann, has resulted in a powerful gospel-like duet with famed vocalist Theresa Thomason that calls for us to recognize the interdependence of all that's living.

Noel has been altering both the musical and ethical landscape of this country and the world for decades—both as the “Paul” of the legendary Peter, Paul and Mary and as an independent musician who passionately believes in bringing the spiritual into the practice of daily life. Funny, irreverently reverent, thoughtful, compassionately passionate, Stookey’s voice is known all across this land: from the “Wedding Song” to “In These Times.”

While acknowledging his history and the meaningful association with Peter and Mary - the trio perhaps best known for its blend of modern folk music and social activism, rallying support for safe energy, peace and civil rights at some of the most iconic events in our history—including the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Noel Paul has stepped beyond the nostalgia of the folk era. Nearly $2 million, earned from Noel’s now-classic “Wedding Song,” were used to fund the work of other socially responsible artists, which inspired Noel, along with his daughter Liz Stookey Sunde, to launch MusicToLife in 2001, a nonprofit utilizing groundbreaking ways to bring music to life for social change through technology, entertainment, artist collaboration and education.

Noel and Elizabeth StookeyWhether judged by the subject matter of his current recorded repertoire or by virtue of his active involvement with the MusicToLife initiative (www.musictolife.org) linking music fans to the expression of contemporary concerns via many different artists and musical genres, Stookey's current musical outlook continues to be fresh, optimistic and encouraging – albeit occasionally politically pointed – conceivably his best known commentary entitled IMPEACHABLE (based on the familiar melody of UNFORGETTABLE) reached viral status with the on-line community, yielding over a million facebook/youtube views.

Elizabeth Bannard Stookey, Noel's high school friend and wife since 1963 has incorporated the 'family music' as part of her ONE LIGHT, MANY CANDLES (www.onelightmanycandles.org) multifaith programs – featuring readings from world spiritual leaders counter-pointed with the songs of her husband. Betty says "The spiritual and relevant nature of Noel’s music lends itself beautifully to the message of our program. His songs reflect the diversity and integrity of individual faith while seeking a global spiritual community.”