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Chapin, Harry

When Harry Chapin performed his songs, he created the very essence of theatre: he told stories that bound his audience into a community of shared emotion. It's a trip into Harry's off-kilter world with its population of ordinary people - taxi drivers, dry cleaners, veterans, parents and children - people with a single thing in common: their ability to reach, however imperfectly, for their dreams.

Harry was a rare individual: Few men have both number one records and a seat on a Presidential commission. When he died in a car accident in 1981, he left a legacy of music and social activism that won the admiration of a nation. Chapin was a storyteller, a troubadour, and a maker of moral fables. He was blessed with a painter's eye for crucial detail and an instinct for core emotion; although his success was as a record maker and concert performer, he had great interest in the theatre. In his lifetime, he wrote three complete stage musicals with a fourth in progress at the time of his death. COTTON PATCH GOSPEL was a huge success at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and ran for seven months off-Broadway. ZINGER was produced at P.A.F. Theatre in Huntington, Long Island (his home town) while THE NIGHT THAT MADE AMERICA FAMOUS played on Broadway for three months in 1975 with Chapin himself as its star. It was nominated for two Tonys. His unfinished last album, THE LAST PROTEST SINGER was envisioned as a future dramatic presentation.

Chapin was a tireless worker for humanitarian causes especially those associated with world hunger. He sat on the Presidential Commission on World Hunger and half of his performances were benefits. He was posthumously awarded the 1982 Special Achievement Award of the World Hunger Media Awards and his songs were collected in the revue show LIES & LEGENDS.

"I've got one of the best jobs in the world. My work is my pleasure and my pleasure is my work. Meeting people is one of the best parts of my job. The situation keeps me in contact with ordinary people, which in the final analysis, I am."

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      The birthday of songwriter and activist Harry Chapin, whose music was turned into the revue LIES & LEGENDS.