Ellen Harper has been around the folk music scene her whole life. Her mother, Dorothy Chase performed and taught banjo and guitar at Hecht House in the 1950s in Boston with Bess Lomax Hawes and her dad, Charles Chase repaired any and all instruments that came his way. Ellen learned to play, perform and teach guitar and other folk instruments at her mother’s knee and eventually, the family moved west to Claremont, California where they create the iconic Folk Music Center that became a hub for all the biggest names in folk, from Dylan to Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and so many other lesser-known, yet equally important players.
Ellen’s kids grew up in that same place, surrounded by those same people and, in fact, one son Ben Harper, caught the music bug and has since become an acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in his own right. In 2000 Ellen participated in Ben’s documentary Pleasure and Pain filmed by iconic rock photographer, Danny Clinch, whose also been a guest on the podcast. That led to them to collaborate on an album. Childhood Home. Ellen’s latest project, Light has a Life of its Own is a collection of her original songs reflecting the unusual musical heritage that has defined and shaped several generations of Chase/Harpers. Ellen currently runs the Folk Music Center, the Claremont Folk Festival and teaches music classes, and her new memoir, Always a Song, is a wonderful journey not only through so many of the stories of her life, but also the history and world of folk music.
You can find Ellen Harper at: Website
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