Joel Rafael

Joel Rafael has been part of Woodyfest since the beginning. His history and legacy here in Okemah, go all the way back to 1998. He’s a problem solver, an idea man, and a mender of fences, inspired by his great friend Lou Johnson. Now in his 75th year of life and 27th year of Woodyfest, he feels more at home in Okemah than he does in San Diego, where he’s lived for over fifty years. Joel Rafael is an authentic folk singer with songs that reflect his vision of our world. As an interpreter of Woody Guthrie and having written music for five sets of Guthrie lyrics, he sings on behalf of the disenfranchised of our world; not always commercial or popular but fulfilling the folksinger’s mission to bring comfort to the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It is with great pleasure he brings his daughter Jamaica back to Woodyfest to share the stage with him. Jamaica Rafael is a classically trained traditional violinist and fiddler who began performing in her father’s band while still in college. After appearing with him at Woodyfest 1999-2008 and performing solo sets of her own in 2007 and 2008, Jamaica’s life trajectory was abruptly altered. The sudden death of her firstborn left her adrift, and her nearly completed solo album was shelved. Only after the birth of her second son in 2010 was she able to complete her debut album, California Girl. But soon his special dietary and developmental needs became all-consuming. She dedicated her life to his care for over a decade, while studying the great old world fiddle techniques, and expanding her musical knowledge. Turns out the themes in traditional fiddle songs resonated with her life and fed her muse. Now, she’s back and ready to wow you with her touch and technique, performing with her father again this year at Woodyfest.