When we won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize in Folk in 2002 for our song, "If I Give Your Name", we were asked to write a bit about our backgrounds and influences.
Here's what Pat said:
"Second to youngest of six sisters, I was sung to a lot. I grew up 35 miles from Kent State. My older sisters went to school there and I used to visit them, so that when the students were killed in 1970, it felt like it happened at my school.
The soundtrack of my growing up was laced with Motown, Elvis, Pete Seeger, the Beatles as they were breaking up and by John Lennon, in particular. I started playing coffeehouses around Cleveland in the late 70s and got introduced to folk music. While studying visual arts at Kent State, I learned about the blues and Appalachian music, African music, Zydeco, gospel, Sacred Harp, songwriters like Hazel Dickens, Holly Near, Bernice Johnson Reagon and about the Labor and Civil Rights movements.
At one of my many jobs to pay my way through school, I was singing at a restaurant and realized that the subject matter that I was singing about had been amply covered by other singers and I wanted to sing about something else. I left school, got a day job organizing arts events and started writing songs. Socially conscious songwriting had kind of gone underground, but I sought out writers like Bev Grant and Charlie King. I met Sonny Ochs, Phil Ochs’ sister, and started singing his songs. During this time, I got to know Pete Seeger and started working with him on and off.
I was affected by the feminist movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the farmworker boycotts, the lesbian and gay movement, the American Indian movement and the environmental movement."