Patti Smith – Soul Kitchen
Blues Women Anthology
Patricia Lee “Patti” Smith (born December 30, 1946) is an American singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist who became a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses.
Called the “Godmother of Punk”, her work is a fusion of rock and poetry. Smith’s most widely known song is “Because the Night”, which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. In 2005, Patti Smith was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, and in 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.On November 17, 2010, she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids. She is also a recipient of the 2011 Polar Music Prize.
In 1993, Smith contributed “Memorial Tribute (Live)” to the AIDS-Benefit Album No Alternative produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Furthermore, Smith has been a supporter of the Green Party and backed Ralph Nader in the 2000 United States presidential election. She led the crowd singing “Over the Rainbow” and “People Have the Power” at the campaign’s rallies, and also performed at several of Nader’s subsequent “Democracy Rising” events.
Smith was a speaker and singer at the first protests against the Iraq War as U.S. President George W. Bush spoke to the United Nations General Assembly. Smith supported Democratic candidate John Kerry in the 2004 election. Bruce Springsteen continued performing her “People Have the Power” at Vote for Change campaign events. In the winter of 2004/2005, Smith toured again with Nader in a series of rallies against the Iraq War and called for the impeachment of George W. Bush.
Smith premiered two new protest songs in London in September 2006. Louise Jury, writing in The Independent, characterized them as “an emotional indictment of American and Israeli foreign policy”. The song “Qana” was about the Israeli airstrike on the Lebanese village of Qana. “Without Chains” is about Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen who was born and raised in Germany, held at Guantanamo Bay detainment camp for four years. Jury’s article quotes Smith as saying:
I wrote both these songs directly in response to events that I felt outraged about. These are injustices against children and the young men and women who are being incarcerated. I’m an American, I pay taxes in my name and they are giving millions and millions of dollars to a country such as Israel and cluster bombs and defense technology and those bombs were dropped on common citizens in Qana. It’s terrible. It’s a human rights violation.
In an interview, Smith stated that Kurnaz’s family has contacted her and that she wrote a short preface for the book that he was writing. Kurnaz’s book, “Five Years of My Life,” was published in English by Palgrave Macmillan in March 2008, with Patti’s introduction.
On March 26, 2003, ten days after Rachel Corrie’s death, Smith appeared in Austin, Texas, and performed an anti-war concert. She subsequently wrote a song “Peaceable Kingdom” which was inspired by and is dedicated to Rachel Corrie.
In 2009, in her Meltdown concert in Festival Hall, she paid homage to the Iranians taking part in post-election protests by saying “Where is My Vote?” in a version of the song “People Have the Power”.
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