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“Have you ever been to jail for justice?”

This was Anne Feeney’s theme song. The singer and labor activist who was a familiar face and voice in the South Sound, died February 6 of COVID 19, at age 69.

Her commitment was to workers and their supporters anywhere and everywhere. She came often to Olympia. She went to Aberdeen and sang several times at fundraisers for the Grays Harbor Institute, a radical radio and speaking organization that brought left figures of national repute to the Harbor.

Anne once joined with Dana Lyons (“Cows with Guns”) to launch “Teamsters and Turtles—Together at Last” on a tour that started in Bellingham, made one of many stops at Traditions Fair Trade cafe in Olympia, and continued south —drowning in song the idea that unions and environmentalists are at odds.

She performed for striking workers on countless picket lines, in union halls, and at some of the largest protests of the last century. Her performance at the demonstrations that shut down the WTO in Seattle in 1999 was featured in the documentary This is What Democracy Looks Like. She organized dozens of tours supporting various causes, including the Sing Out for Single Payer Healthcare tour in 2009, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for strike funds and progressive causes.

She sang for steelworkers, carwash workers, miners, strawberry workers, railroad workers, anti-sweatshop activists, homeowners fighting foreclosure, public transit supporters, auto workers opposing NAFTA, and many more. Her shoes will be hard to fill.

Remembering Anne Feeney

by Harry Levine of Citizens Band, March 2021

Anne Feeney was a hell-raiser—an amazing human, activist, and musician. As a member of Citizens Band along with Grace Cox, Jim Cubbage, and Eliza Welch, we discovered Anne’s music in the 90s.  She was just what we loved—fiery, funny, sarcastic and witty beyond belief.

We covered a few of her songs and we excitedly first met her in an elevator at the Folklife Festival. She had heard some of our music. In typical Anne Feeney style, she said, “Yeah…I heard your version of End Corporate Welfare and it’s great —but you should be paying me royalties!” We put our tails between our legs, became fast friends, and immediately sent her a check for $14 (we didn’t sell a lot of CDs).

We did many shows in Olympia featuring her as a solo act and her show with Chris Chandler. We traveled on her Singout for Single-Payer Road Show. We shared the performance and festivities at Chicago’s celebration of the IWW 100-year anniversary. She was such an entertaining human being whether it was on a car ride, at a diner, at a rally or at a show.

Anne was an inspiration for me and many other activists and cultural workers. She was also a great friend and house guest who stayed in touch. She asked about our lives and families.

As a razor-sharp organizer and a self-proclaimed agitator, she called shit on the left, middle, and right, always probing for how we could do more. More support for workers and union building. More hell raising.

I last played with her at the Oregon County Fair celebrating the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie. She was dealing with cancer, but still ornery, still fiery.

Thank you Anne Feeney. You were so very human. You were incredibly honest. You gave us all so much. I Love You and Miss You.

Listen to Anne’s songs on Spotify.

One Comment

  1. Eleanor Steinhagen March 3, 2021

    What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing

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