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Music a form of activism for folk performer

Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2000

Libby Roderick is a musician who walks her talk. She not only sings about changing the world - she's actually doing it.

``I believe that we can move things forward in this world to achieve not only a healthy planet but a healthy humanity,'' said Roderick, from her home in Anchorage.

The internationally acclaimed folk singer and songwriter - who is also an activist, poet and teacher - returns to Juneau this weekend to perform a benefit concert for Shanti of Southeast, a non-profit group that offers AIDS- and HIV-prevention education and services to people with the disease.

With five albums that have sold more than 40,000 copies and an extensive tour schedule, Roderick has spent the lion's share of the past decade working on her music.

But, for Roderick, music is also activism.

``Music is a phenomenal force for transformation. You want to use whatever tools work best to reconnect ourselves,'' said Roderick, who was born and raised in the Anchorage area.

Along with her musical career, the Yale University graduate also conducts diversity workshops in Anchorage and on the road.

``The workshops focus on helping people to genuinely see and hear each others' experiences,'' said Roderick.

``Society divides people on the most astounding, insignificant differences. People can be lost to each other because of the color of their skins or their gender,'' she added.

Currently, Roderick is participating in ``Healthy Racism,'' a forum in Anchorage that encourages dialogue between people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

The guitarist is also a faculty member of the Institute of Deep Ecology.

``The group brings together an international spectrum of heavyweights who are concerned about the environment,'' Roderick said.

Roderick's lyrics have been translated into several languages and reprinted in books that are used in prisons, hospitals, schools, theater performances and videos.

Recently, her work was included in ``Prayers for a Thousand Years: Inspiration from Leaders and Visionaries Around the World,'' a book that highlights the writings of 225 visionaries.

She was also one of the finalists considered for the national Green Dove Award, an honor bestowed to people who link creativity, psychology and ecology in their work.

The singer, who will play acoustic guitar and perform her original songs this weekend, was recently nominated for the Alaska Women of Achievement Award.

Despite her lofty accomplishments, Roderick on stage is full of humor and her music is fun and melodic, said Lauren Bruce, Roderick's manager in Anchorage.

``Music is where we get to enjoy ourselves. I like to celebrate what is precious in ordinary lives,'' Roderick said.

Of course, ordinary for Alaskans is slightly different than what could be considered ordinary for other people. One of Roderick's favorite childhood memories is singing at the top of her lungs to announce her presence to bears that may have been playing beside her.

Decades later, the musician is still vocalizing a warning but, this time, it's to a different type of threat.

``It's possible to have a planet where humans are no longer hurting each other or the other things that we share our world with,'' Roderick said.

Roderick will perform at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 22 at Northern Light United Church. Tickets are available at Shanti and Rainy Day and Focal Point bookstores for $20. Tickets at the door are $25.



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