MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Folk legend Woody Guthrie, famed singer-songwriter of tunes such as “This Land is Your Land” and “Dust Bowl Blues,” would have been 100 this year, and the children of the Mount Kisco Childcare Center are ready to celebrate in song.
Musician Sarah Lee Guthrie, the singer’s granddaughter, and her husband, Johnny Irion, will perform a family concert based to benefit the center this Friday at Chappaqua Crossing; the center’s children will be the opening act.
The singer-songwriter and folk legend died in 1967 after battling Huntington's disease. The Woody Guthrie Foundation, which is in Mount Kisco, is commemorating the centennial of his July 14, 1912, birth with concerts all over the United States and Europe, conferences at universities and educational exhibits, including one at the Mount Kisco Public Library during July.
Not everyone knows that Guthrie wrote more than 100 children’s songs, in addition to his signature folk ballads and political anthems, said Anna Canoni. another of his granddaughters. Father of eight children, Guthrie loved kids and had his own way of parenting: through music.
"Everything that a parent wants their child to get, Woody did through song,” said Canoni, who manages her grandfather’s creative legacy as his publisher. Canoni said he had children’s songs about everything, from taking a bath to riding in a car.
Canoni, whose children Kaylee and Alexis attend the center, came up with the concept of a children’s concert while brainstorming ideas for fundraisers with Keri Reitman, the center’s development director.
The idea, Canoni said, was to give back to parents with a concert starring their own children, instead of holding a fancy fundraiser. So Canoni called up cousin Sarah Lee Guthrie and her husband, who tour as a duo and whose children's album "Go Waggaloo" was inspired by their daughters, Olivia and Sophia.
The children learned songs throughout the year and will open for Guthrie and Irion with a performance of four of Woody Guthrie's children’s songs and a portion of his canonical American song “This Land is our Land.”
“We look forward to watching and participating in a fantastic show,” said Dottie Jordan, executive director of the center.
All proceeds will go to benefit the not-for-profit childcare center's Scholarship Initiative, which provides tuition assistance to families in need who would not otherwise be able to enroll.
To purchase tickets, which run $35 for adults and $15 for children, go to www.mkccc.org. Tickets are also available at the door.