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Ferron
Birth name Debby Foisy
Born June 1, 1952 (1952-06-01) (age 68)
Canada Canada
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician
Years active 1975-present

Ferron (born June 2, 1952)[1] is a Canadian poet and folk Singer-songwriter, a famous folk musician, an influential writer and performer of women's music, and an important influence on later musicians such as Ani DiFranco, Mary Gauthier and the Indigo Girls.(Citation needed) She is openly lesbian. [2]

LifeEdit

YouthEdit

Ferron was born Debby Foisy, the eldest of 7 children in a working-class family. She grew up in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia.[1] She learned to play guitar at age 11.[3]

Of her earliest musical memories, she wrote, "my mother’s French Canadian family played music. I heard guitars and banjo and accordion and scrub board and my grandfather clogging. I put it together...music meant fun, meant love and laughter. I started writing songs when I was 10, never saved them after some kids at school found them and teased me about it. I wrote songs and remembered them and when I forgot them I felt they were not important anymore. The next time I saved a song I was 18. It was 1970."[4] (It was with that first saved song that she made her professional debut in 1975, playing the song "Who Loses" at a benefit for the Women's Press Gang, a feminist publishing house.)

When she was 12 she got a job at a local bakery, the money from which she used to buy a transistor radio. Other jobs followed – picking strawberries, ironing shirts, a, a fish cannery, an A&W – saving her money until she had enough to leave home. She left home at 15, taking just "a change of clothes, a tooth brush, my A+W uniform, and a Leonard Cohen album. No record player."[4]

She supported herself by driving a cab, waitressing, shoveling gravel, and packing bags of coffee in a factory.[1]

She bought a guitar, with money she made cutting grass, and in 1975 made her debut, singing at a Women's Press Club benefit. Less than a year later, she was performing at " small coffee house that held 60 people. When the audience was lined around the block and there wasn't enough room, I moved on to the Soft Rock Café. My first show there we passed the hat. I made more money than I'd ever seen at one time...$860.00. After that I worked there for a couple of years, sometimes up to 5 nights running."[4]

1970s and 1980sEdit

In 1971, Foisy changed her name to Ferron when one of her friends had a dream in which she was called Ferron. [2] She attended Total Ed, an alternative high school in Vancouver, graduating in 1973.[5]

Ferron subsequently established her own record label, Lucy Records, and released her debut album, Ferron, in 1977. The album was recorded in a video studio on 2-track equipment, and, as she stated, "the production quality was pretty poor". Nonetheless, all 1,000 copies printed sold quickly.[6]

In 1978 she was "discovered" by Vancouver's Gayle Scott, who became her manager and business partner.[1]

1980's Testimony was her earliest professionally produced album, and brought her much interest in the United States, particularly in the women's music community.[7]

Her 1984 album, Shadows on a Dime, received a rating of 4 stars (out of 5) from Rolling Stone magazine, which called Ferron "a culture hero" and the album "cowgirl meets Yeats...a thing of beauty."

Awarded a Canada Arts Council grant in October 1985, she took several years off from touring, supporting herself (after the grant money ran out) by working as a carpenter's assistant and a bartender, and by doing day care.[1] She moved to the United States in 1987.[4]

1990sEdit

She returned to recording in 1990 with Phantom Center. The album featured backing vocals by a then unheard of Tori Amos, and consequently is highly sought after by collectors. It was re-released with a duet with The Indigo Girls on the first track.

Between 1992 and 1994, Ferron released 3 albums on her own Cherrywood Station label. Driver was then picked up by Earthbeat Records; it was highly acclaimed by critics as a masterwork and nominated for a Juno Award in 1995.

Warner Bros. Records signed Ferron, which gave her great freedom in the studio to produce Still Riot with db Benedictson.

As a benefit for the Institute for Musical Arts (IMA), Ferron released Inside Out (1999), covering well-known tunes from the 1950's to 1970's. She published a handmade book, THe (h)UNGeR POeMs, while she was teaching classes at IMA.

2000sEdit

She gathered some of her earlier, then out-of-print recordings to create Impressionistic (2000), a retrospective double album with a 24-page, autobiographical booklet. Her 57-page book, Catching Holy: Poems, 2006-2008 is offered by Nemesis Publishing (2008) through www.lulu.com.

In 2004 she returned to the island where some of her earliest recorded songs were written to create Turning Into Beautiful, produced by db Benedictson. In 2007 she began re-releasing a series of CDs as her Collected Works; so far, Testimony, Driver, Shadows on a Dime, and Turning Into Beautiful have appeared, completely rejacketed with previously unreleased photographs.

Ferron's CD, Boulder, was produced by Bitch (with JD Samson for one song) on the Short Story Records label and released in 2008. Boulder includes guest appearances by Ani Difranco, Amy Ray and Emily Sailers (Indigo Girls), JD Samson (Le Tigre), Sam Parton (Be Good Tanyas), Tina G (God-des) and Julie Wolf. In 2009 to 2010, Ferron created commissioned textile art — wall hangings, quilts, and pillows — that features her lyrics and poetry. A new CD with live performances, Girl on a Road, was released in 2011.

Ferron teaches master classes in writing,[8] and has opened an artist retreat for women in Three Rivers, Michigan, called "The Fen Peace and Poetry Camp for Women."

WritingEdit

For Ferron, "artistic expression is not only essential, it’s revolutionary." "Art is really the expression of the soul," Ferron says. "I'm asking women to remember that if we remember our soul, we keep our soul, and we can do it through artistic connections. Art is connected to the soul, and the soul is connected to God, and God is connected to humility, so if you want to take control of a person's soul, don't let them have art. To me it's a revolutionary act to continue keeping your artist soul alive."[9]

RecognitionEdit

Ferron Girl on a Road (trailer) directed by Gerry Rogers

Ferron Girl on a Road (trailer) directed by Gerry Rogers

She received an Outmusic Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards in 1996.

Ferron was featured in the documentary on women's music, Radical Harmonies, 2002.

A filmography on the musician directed by Gerry Rogers, Ferron: Girl on a road was released in 2009 at film festivals and in television broadcast.

PublicationsEdit

Poetry Edit

  • THe (h)UNGeR POeMs.. Bodega, CA: Big Universe Productions, 1997.[10]
  • Catching Holy. Poems, 2006-2008. Three Rivers, MI: Nemesis Publishing, 2008.[11]

SongsEdit

  • Not A Still Life Songbook. (50 pp.; musical notation and lyrics; wire-bound to lay flat.) Nemesis Publishing, Vashon, WA. (1993)

Non-fictionEdit

  • “Courting the Muse: Thoughts on the Art of Songwriting. Sentimental Education.” Sing Out!: The Folk Song Magazine 39(3):55-57. (1994)

Audio / videoEdit

Ferron Misty Mountain (1980)

Ferron Misty Mountain (1980)

FERRON, Higher Wisdom (1990)

FERRON, Higher Wisdom (1990)

Ferron ..

Ferron ... our purpose here

Ferron Girl On A Road

Ferron Girl On A Road

DiscographyEdit

  • Ferron. Sakima Island, BC: Lucy, 1977.
  • Backed Up. Sakima Island, BC: Lucy, 1978.
  • Testimony. Sakima Island, BC: Lucy, 1980; Edmonton:Stony Plain, 1980; Emeryville, CA: Redwood, 1980.
  • Shadows on a Dime. Sakima Island, BC: Lucy, 1984; Emeryville, CA: Redwood, 1984.
  • Phantom Center. Hawthorn, CA: Chameleon, 1990.
  • Not a Still Life (live).. Vashon, WA: Cherrywood Station, 1992.
  • Resting With the Question. Vashon, WA: Cherrywood Station, 1992.
  • Driver. . Vashon, WA: Cherrywood Station, 1994; Redway, CA: Nemesis, 1994.
  • Still Riot. Scarborough, ON, & Burbank, CA: Warner, 1996.
  • Inside Out. Bodega, CA: IMA, 1999.
  • Impressionistic. Vashon, WA: Cherrywood, 2000.
  • Turning Into Beautiful. [Bellingham, WA?]: Fair and Loving Music, 2005.
  • The Complete Works: Testimony, Driver, Shadows on a Dime, Turning Into Beautiful (2007–2008)
  • Boulder. Short Story Records, 2008.
  • Girl on a Road (live). Three Rivers, MI: Fair and Loving Music, 2011.

Except where noted, discographical information courtesy WorldCat.[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • Ferron 2004 "Biography."
  • Scott Alarik 2003 Deep Community: Adventures in the Modern Folk Underground, pp. 207–208. Black Wolf Press: Cambridge, MA.
  • Ed Bell 2001 "A Provincetown Writing Workshop with Ferron" Provincetown Magazine 24 (27): 36, 38-39.
  • Camlin 2010 "Notes from The Fen" Our Big Gayborhood (April 11) http://www.ourbiggayborhood.com/2010/04/notes-from-the-fen/
  • Roddy Campbell 2004 "Too Long In Exile." Penguin Eggs 24: 30-32.
  • Mina Carson, Tisa Lewis, and Susan M.Shaw 2004 Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music. University of Kentucky Press: Lexington.
  • Stephanie Esters 2007 "Ferron to open women's retreat near Three Rivers." Kalamazoo Gazette (March 18, 2007 via Mlive.com).
  • Douglas Heselgrave 2008 "Boulder: the best album of the year so far." Restless and Real - words and sounds from a shrinking world (June 17, 2008).
  • Stephen Holden 1994 "Dylan’s Children, Without the Sanctimony." The New York Times (November 20) Section II: 1, 34.
  • Al Kaufman 2008 "Ferron, Bitch, Sage Play Eddie's." Atlanta Music Guide 658 (May 11).
  • Mark Miller 2001 Ferron. Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Electronic Version. National Library of Canada: Ottawa.
  • Dee Mosbacher (Director) 2002 Radical Harmonies. Motion Picture. Woman Vision, San Francisco.
  • Laura Post 1997 "Ferron: Taking a New Step in an Old Direction." Backstage Pass: Interviews with Women in Music, pp. 52–59. New Victoria Publishers, Norwich, Vermont.
  • Ellen Schwartz, Born a Woman. Polestar Press, 1988 ISBN 0-919591-25-6
  • Sandra Thomas 2002 "Totally Cool School." Vancouver Courier (21 May).
  • Bett Williams 2000 "Dancer in the Dark." Surfin' Bett (October 27). Posted on the Lesbianation website. Accessed August 29, 2002.

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Laura Post, Artist Biography, Ferron, AllMusic. Web, Apr. 7, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.glbtq.com/arts/ferron.html
  3. Schwartz, 43.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ferron (Debby Foisy), Citizen Freak. Web, Apr. 8, 2017.
  5. Thomas 2002.
  6. Schwartz, 44.
  7. Schwartz, 45.
  8. Bell 2001, Camlin 2010
  9. Esters, 2007.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Search results = au:Ferron, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Apr. 7, 2017.
  11. Ferron: Catching Holy, Ladyslipper Music. Web, Apr. 7, 2017.

External linksEdit

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