Personal Award: Oscar Brand
In December 1995, Oscar Brand celebrated his 50th anniversary as host of the Folksong Festival on WNYC, New York’s municipal radio station. In that half century, Mr. Brand has personally championed folk music and has provided a platform for its most important and influential proponents. The artists featured by Oscar Brand include Woody Guthrie, The Weavers (who took their name from a listener’s suggestion) and Huddie Ledbetter. In the McCarthy 1950’s, many performers blacklisted as communists by commercial broadcasters found their only radio airplay with the courageous Mr. Brand. New folk performers soon made their way to Oscar’s studio: Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Harry Chapin, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, among many others. But Oscar Brand has provided more than an open microphone for the American folk music scene. He has always strived to present music and artists who were considered politically unpopular, even seditious. Always a personal champion of African folk music and performance, as one example, Oscar presented the Nigerian Student Vocal Chorus in 1956, while that country was still under colonial rule. For more than 50 years in service to the music and messages of folk performers and fans around the world, a personal Peabody Award is presented to Mr. Oscar Brand.