The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) will honor award-winning singer, songwriter, and storyteller Bill Harley along with noted historian, antiques dealer, and civic provocateur Richard Kazarian at its eighth annual Celebration of the Humanities, which will be held Monday, October 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket. This year’s theme is “A Night of Curiosity.” Each year, the celebration recognizes the recipients of RICH’s Tom Roberts Prize for Creative Achievement in the Humanities and Honorary Chairs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities.
The popular social event offers RICH an opportunity to publicly honor its awards recipients while spreading the message of its mission: to inspire and support intellectual curiosity and imagination in all Rhode Islanders through lifelong learning. This year RICH also launched the new 2010 Civics Education grant program, funding eight Rhode Island based projects that support teachers, schools, and community organizations who are working to enhance civic education in K-12.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual or group whose career achievements demonstrate humanities excellence, reflect RICH’s mission and core values, and enrich public life in Rhode Island. This year, the award honors Bill Harley for his use of music, song, and story in building community; promoting our common humanity; and encouraging lifelong learning, exploring, and growing.
Bill Harley is well-known nationally but we are fortunate that he lives locally. My children and I have had many opportunites to see him perform in person, inspiring them to become better storytellers themselves. I also had the honor of interviewing Bill Harley for Kidoinfo in 2008.
Harley is a prolific writer and recording artist as well as a longtime regular commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered. Since 1984 he has released 28 albums, authored eight children’s picture books and two novels for gradeschoolers, and worked on multiple theatrical productions. Several of his books have received awards, including The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher and Night of the Spadefoot Toads. His award-winning DVD, Yes to Running, was featured on PBS, and many of his other albums have been honored for their excellence. Entertainment Weekly labeled Harley, a two-time Grammy Award winner and multiple nominee, “the Mark Twain of contemporary children’s music.” Our personal favorite story CD is Town Around the Bend.
In addition to touring and recording, Harley currently is conducting research for a book on the culture of schools and preparing for the September release of his new spoken-word CD, The Best Candy in the Whole World. For a complete list of Harley’s work and awards, visit billharley.com.
The Celebration of the Humanities is open to the public; tickets are $75 ($25 for students). To reserve tickets and learn more about the honorees, visit rihumanities.org.
Founded in 1973, RICH is an independent, not-for-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Sharing with the NEH the belief that “democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens,” RICH invests in individuals and organizations–from scholars, filmmakers, writers, and oral historians to libraries, museums, historical societies, and community organizations–that engage Rhode Islanders in the intellectual and cultural life of the State.