Si Awarded Winthrop University’s Medal of Honor in the Arts
Every other year Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina honors artists and arts advocates who have made significant contributions to the visual, performing, and recording arts. Previous winners have included world-renowned pianist Charles Wadsworth, Broadway’s Motown director Charles Randolph Wright, Charleston, SC Mayor Joe Riley and many others. It is with great honor to announce Si Kahn as one of Winthrop’s 2015 Medal of Honor in the Arts
As the recipient of the 2010 Folk Artists of the Year Award from Folk Alliance, Marchsall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award from the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Solidarity Forever Award from the 21st Century Democrats and named Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos: A National Center for Ideas and Action Leadership, Kahn’s merits truly make him one of a kind. For over 45 years Kahn’s influence as a civil rights, labor and community organizer and musician have reached communities and audiences world-wide making an impact on the marginalized communities that he has worked tirelessly to support.
Si Kahn’s family and his own work history are lively and extensive. He has relatives who have been soldiers in the Czar’s army, shoe factory workers, gas station operators, rabbis, civil rights leaders, pick and shovel laborers on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, Jewish faith healers, illegal immigrants, bootleggers, World War I soldiers, Talmudic scholars and a driver for Al Capone.
Kahn has spent 40 years as a composer, lyricist and book writer for musical theater. As a musician, he has performed at concerts and festivals in Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland, Canada and the U.S.
He has toured with Pete Seeger, Andy Irvine, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and John McCutcheon, and has shared festival and workshop stages with artists ranging from Ani DiFranco to the Fairfield Four. His musical body of work includes 16 albums of original songs; a CD of original songs for children, Good Times and Bedtimes; and a collection of traditional labor and civil rights songs recorded with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp.
One of Kahn’s favorite musical experiences was being asked by publisher Harper-Collins to set to music and record the classic children’s books “Runaway Bunny” and “Goodnight Moon.” He has composed original music and lyrics for half a dozen films and videos, including labor videos.
During the civil rights era, Kahn began his organizing career in 1965 in Arkansas with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, more popularly known as SNCC, the student wing of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. Kahn also served in the U.S. Army Reserves during the Vietnam era (1965-71). As a member of the 317th Military History Detachment, he co-wrote the official U.S. Army histories of Fort McPherson, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and of the XVIII Airborne Corps in World War II.
He received his A.B. degree magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1965 and in 1995, received his Ph.D. in American studies with a specialization in cultural studies from The Graduate College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences of The Union Institute.