Joel Rafael

Over the years, Joel has performed with Big Bird and the Muppets on Sesame Street, and with Mr. Rogers on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood; He’s chopped wood, hauled spring water and, once, a bag of coal; He’s given private tours to Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards, as well as Billy Idol. Joel has sung for children and senior citizens; at school assemblies, and around the campfire; he’s performed on stage at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, and on the steps of City Hall; for the United Farm Workers and for the Teamsters. But by far, in 71 years, his most cherished experience, the one that has provided the richest memories, the fondest friendships and the most transforming personal growth, remains this annual pilgrimage to Okemah to perform on the Woody Guthrie Festival, now in its 23rd year.

Last year Joel released my tenth album, ROSE AVENUE, a culmination of over fifty years of singing, writing and recording, with all new songs that reflect a grateful heart as well as concern for the plight of his human brothers and sisters. On ROSE AVENUE, produced with multi-instrumentalist Marty Rifkin, he sings and plays guitar and harmonica. Joel is proud of this album and thinks it’s his best work.

We are only given a certain amount of time here on earth, so it’s important to make every second count for something. That’s what he tries to do with my music: make it count for something, and hope it makes a difference. Among his albums are two collections of Woody Guthrie songs, some familiar, and some previously unrecorded, including five for which he composed the music in collaboration with the Woody Guthrie Archives. Proceeds from both of those albums go to the Woody Guthrie Coalition, in support of this festival.Those CDs and all of his CDs are available at his website.