2020 Panels

Saturday, July 18th, 2020: 12pm – 7pm CDT

Panels listed in order of appearance:

Ellis Paul Songwriting Workshop presented by Oklahoma Film + Music Office

Credit: Tim Rice

12pm – 2pm CDT | $20 | 20 participants
Sign up here!

Songwriters and aspiring songwriters are invited to attend the 5th Annual Ellis Paul WoodyFest Songwriting Workshop being held VIRTUALLY this year via Zoom. Over the past several years, Ellis has created learning tools to complement his teaching that he utilizes in his workshops.  These instructional posters form a trilogy starting with the Song Idea Generator, moving to the Song Editing Wheel and finishing with Music Hall Performance.

This year’s virtual workshop will focus on utilization of the Song Editing Wheel and all participants will receive a PDF file of the poster!

Online registration ends at noon on Friday, July 17. An e-mail confirmation will be sent to those registering with a link to join the virtual workshop. You will need this e-mail to join the workshop on July 18.

*Please note that the reduced cost for this year’s workshop is due to the generous sponsorship of OKLAHOMA FILM + MUSIC!

Appalachia: This Land is Home to Me with Tom Breiding

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 12:00pm CDT

Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk

A former Music Row staff writer, Tom Breiding has spent the entirety of his career as a chronicler of small town America and the past decade as a musician in residence for the United Mine Workers of America. Commissioned to write songs by the UMWA, Breiding’s anthems were instrumental in preserving the health care and pensions for tens of thousands of retirees and their families in both the “Fairness at Patriot” fight and the “Keep the Promise” campaign. His original ballads have retold the stories and have punctuated the commemorations of many of the most important labor events of the 20th century.

In his presentation, Tom will use music and narrative to share his niche knowledge and history of the West Virginia coal industry helping his audience to reflect on the many ways it has affected the people of Appalachia and has shaped its culture. Using photographs to highlight the profound impact of the extraction industries on the local landscape, Tom will explain the process of mining coal and of harvesting natural gas and he will discuss the extensive waste that threatens the local environment. Tom will also bring insight into the lives of those who have helped to provide energy to our nation for more than a century but who have found themselves left behind in this time of transition. He will bring their struggle to life through songs that he wrote and performed at the United Mine Workers Union rallies which have been successful in securing the pensions and health care for tens of thousands of miners in the face of company bankruptcies during the past fifteen years.

Folk Collusion with Tim Easton

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 1:00pm CDT

Nashville-based traveling songwriter and storyteller Tim Easton toured through Russia in the Autumn of 2019 sponsored by the US Department of State’s Forum For Cultural Engagement program. Echoing Steinbeck’s Cold War era essays in “A Russian Journal,” Easton set out to meet the people of that vast nation and report back on exactly what he saw. The resulting book and field recordings are assembled in a collection called “Folk Collusion.

For the 2020 virtual WoodyFest, Easton will present a slideshow, read from his book, and answer questions about his experiences as a folk singer and representative of American music in today’s Russia during this eventful time.

Woody’s Country with Rik Palieri

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 1:30pm CDT

Rik Palieri is a singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist, and storyteller. He is also the host & producer of “The Song Writer’s Notebook,” a TV show, archived in the American Folk Life Center in the new “Rik Palieri Collection,” at The American Folk Life Center Archives in Washington D.C.

For the virtual 2020 WoodyFest, Palieri will offer a talk about his ‘Woody’s Country’ project, which he worked on with Woody’s daughter Nora Guthrie. Palieri’s presentation explores Woody Guthrie’s connection with country music and in particular the question of whether or not Woody was excluded from country music, even though he had many early country roots, including his wildly popular Los Angeles-based country radio shows with his Lefty Lou and his cousin Jack Guthrie.

Collecting Woody with Barry Ollman

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 2:00pm CDT

Barry Ollman is a musician who for the last 35 years has also been a collector of rare letters & manuscripts of famous people. Having a life-long interest in those who speak for the voiceless & disadvantaged initially led him to Woody Guthrie. Since then Ollman has collected a major archive of Woody’s papers, letters & artworks. His archive also includes the works of Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan & many others.

For the virtual WoodyFest 2020, Ollman will offer an illustrated presentation displaying a variety of highlights from his Woody Guthrie archive, including original correspondence, art, books, & related ephemera related to Woody & his circle. Ollman’s stories describing the hunt for these cultural treasures make for a fascinating & revealing presentation, one that brings new insights & understanding to the Woody Guthrie story.

This Land is Your Land: A Celebration of 80 Years with Deana McCloud

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 3:00pm CDT

On February 23rd, 2020, the Woody Guthrie Center celebrated the 80th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s writing “This Land is Your Land” with a concert at The Town Hall in New York City . The venue is just down the street from where Hanover House  stood, where  the corner Guthrie penned the song on Feb. 23, 1940, so the event was taking the song back to its origins.

This show was a celebration of music, presented by musicians from all along that Ribbon of Highway who follow in Guthrie’s footsteps. using their art to inform and inspire. In this discussion that follows a presentation of a special version of “This Land is Your Land” filmed during the concert, Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud talks with participating musicians Branjae & Gangstagrass, highlighting a new wave of music fusion that tells stories of struggle and justice.  That discussion is followed by a virtual tour of the Center’s exhibit about the song and its 80th anniversary.

Native Music of Oklahoma presented by Oklahoma Film + Music Office

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 4:00pm CDT

Moderated by Sterlin Harjo & Dr. Hugh Foley | Panelists: Samantha Crain, Jula Harjo, Kylee Robison, Johnny Akeketa, Nokosee Fields, K-OSS, & Kalyn Fay

Photo: Shane Brown

Filmmaker, artist & podcaster Sterlin Harjo, a member of the Seminole Nation, has Muskogee heritage, was raised in Holdenville, Okla. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied art and film.

He received a fellowship from the Sundance Institute in 2004. His short film, Goodnight, Irene, premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and received a special jury award at the Aspen Shortfest. In 2006, he received a fellowship from the newly formed United States Artists foundation.

Sterlin has made three feature films, a feature documentary, directed a number of short-form projects & shorts, & is a founding member of a five-member Native American comedy group, The 1491s.

Most recently, Harjo was appointed to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Hugh Foley is a widely respected Oklahoma music historian, an author and founding board member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

His primary areas of scholarship are American Studies with an emphasis on Oklahoma music and culture, Native American studies and cinema.

He currently serves as the faculty consultant at the campus radio station, KRSC-FM, where he produces a weekly Native American current events and music program, and mentors students in basic studio operations.

Something to Say: Making Music That Matters presented by Oklahoma Humanities

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 | 5:30pm CDT

Moderated by Barry Ollman | Panelists: Louie Pérez, Mary Gauthier, & Dr. Sunu Kodumthara

Woody Guthrie’s music inspired many to create songs that made political statements about the world around them. This panel explores this aspect of Woody’s music through the voice of some of today’s most notable contemporary folk artists who use their craft to make statements, educate audiences and draw attention to social and cultural issues.

Louie Pérez is an American songwriter, percussionist, painter, prose writer and guitarist for the multiple Grammy Award-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated band Los Lobos. Pérez, as the group’s primary lyricist, is a keen observer of the human condition and his work has been showcased on every Los Lobos recording, beginning with “And A Time To Dance” (1983) and continuing through the band’s most recent album, Gate of Gold (2015).


Mary Gauthier is a Grammy Nominated songwriter. The Associated Press named Mary Gauthier as one of the “best songwriters of her generation.” Her songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Bettye Lavette, Mike Farris, Kathy Mattea, Bobby Bare, Amy Helm and Candi Staton. Her 2015 album Rifles & Rosemary Beads was co-written with U.S. veterans and their families, the eleven deeply personal songs on this album reveal the untold stories, and powerful struggles that these veterans and their spouses deal with abroad and after returning home. She teaches songwriting workshops as a healing art: her method and style is to teach students how to dig deep into their inner selves to discover/uncover their own unique voice, and then effectively use this voice to compose original songs.

Dr. Sunu Kodumthara is an Associate Professor of History at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where she has taught since January 2010. She graduated with her PhD in American History from the University of Oklahoma in 2011, after defending her dissertation entitled “Anti-Suffragists and the Dilemma of the American West.” Sunu currently teaches courses ranging from American History To/Since 1877 and the History of Oklahoma to 20th Century America and Women in American History. She has just completed an article on the transition of anti-suffragists into voting advocates and is currently working on a biographical project examining the political career of Kate Barnard, Oklahoma’s first female elected official. Sunu has proudly served as a board member for Oklahoma Humanities since 2017.

This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.