Thursday I was driving south from Salt Lake City on I 15 to Fillmore, where the Old Capitol Arts & Living History Festival takes place this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
This festival, a sister to The Old Capitol Storytelling Festival which UPHA helped create and launch in March of this year, welcomes school groups from all over Central Utah on Thursday and Friday and brings in pioneer demonstrators to involve the school children in pioneer skills and arts. So the back of my Prius was loaded with 1, food to feed our Pioneer Heritage Company reenactors, along with 2, my pioneer games and 3, musical instruments which I am teaching at the festival, and 4, an electric bass guitar and amplifier, which is completely unrelated to the festival.
The reason for the bass guitar is that on Friday evening after I have driven back from Fillmore to Salt Lake, we will be participating in the Better Days 2020 celebration, I am accompanying Cherie Call on her song entitled “Better Days“ written for Martha Hughes Cannon. Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts commissioned this song to honor this wonderful woman. I am stopping at her home in Spanish Fork on my way south so we can rehearse before the performance.
At the Better Days 2020 event Friday evening (www.betterdays2020.org) at This is the Place Heritage Park, we are launching our campaign to raise funds for the orchestration of Cherie‘s song by Hollywood orchestrator Annie Rosevear.
If you search Annie’s name online you’ll see that she is an up-and-coming star in the film scoring world. We are delighted and honored that she is willing to do the orchestration for this song.
So what I have called our second project is really a continuing collaboration with the Better Days 2020 committee in helping to utilize the arts to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of universal women’s suffrage in the United States and the 150th anniversary of the first vote by women in the United States, which took place in Utah in 1870.
Ahh, but wait! Did I say universal women’s suffrage? I misspeak.
Even though female American citizens were given the right to vote in 1920, Native Americans, including their women, were not allowed to vote until 1924, the year they were finally granted citizenship, due partly to the efforts of Zitkala Sa, also known as Gertrude Bonnin (project #2a - I’ve been reading several fascinating books about Zitkala).
And Chinese immigrants, who helped to build the transcontinental railroad (TCR) and without whom it would not have happened, were not allowed citizenship or the right to vote until 1943!
Though blacks were supposedly given the right to vote after the Civil War, many did not actually have that privilege until after the 15th amendment was passed in 1965. So 1920 was really just a good beginning to universal suffrage.
The 150th anniversary (Spike 150) of the completion of the transcontinental railroad (www.spike150.org) is coming up. I’m most of the way through my second book about the building of the transcontinental railroad (TCR), “Nothing Like It in the World“, by Stephen E. Ambrose. Of the many takeaways from that book and the previous one I read (The Iron Trail To the Golden Spike by John J. Stewart) the most profound ones for me were: 1-how much we neglected to honor the Chinese for their essential role in the building of the transcontinental railroad, and 2-how devastating the TCR was for the Native American peoples and their cultures. The “great leap forward” for western civilization was a death sentence for these indigenous cultures.
The project we envision for the Spike 150 Celebration will be a Legacy Series Special Project that will not be just county-specific, but topic-specific, that being the TCR and its impact, both positive and negative. The format will not follow our previous CD-sized art book, but will be a 9” x 12” coffee-table book with an accompanying CD or music download code.
The very first project of Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts was The Ghosts of Gardner Village, a story/song cycle which was performed several times 10 years ago and then was laid to rest. We have been asked to resurrect it, which is a large undertaking. Since we are going to all that effort, we would really like to perform it several more times and videotape it so that many people can enjoy the fine songs and stories by Sam Payne, Nancy Hanson, Tami Simister Robinson, and myself. We are looking for a venue that will partner with us and split the proceeds. Contact me if that rings a bell with you.
“Some Beauty Never Ends“, the Garfield County Legacy series project is up next up. Influenced by the format of the Spike 150 project and the desire to showcase the beautiful settings in which the stories of Garfield County took place, we have decided to change the format of all subsequent Legacy Series products to the 9” x 12” coffee table art book/CD format. This change will also allow for more extensive stories, more visuals, and more music (20 cuts, 77 minutes of music).
It's amazing how much these 5 projects intersect. Those intersections between have changed the course of our future and created ripples that will be felt forever!
UPHA could really use your financial support at this time. Please consider donating below.