link to University of Utah Home link to Marriott Library Home
Off Campus Access - Log In
Web Banner

image heading: musician

 

BIOGRAPHY

INTERVIEWS

PERFORMANCE

PUBLICATIONS

Rosalie Sorrels--storyteller, singer, songwriter, folksong collector, and activist for social justice--has been a noted figure in the national ur- ban folk-music landscape ever since her appearance at the Newport Folk Festival of 1966. That was the same year she left Salt Lake City for good. But Salt Lake provided the seedbed and much of the material for her remarkable career.

Born in southern Idaho in 1933, Rosalie came from a family with strong literary, musical, and politically progressive interests, and she brought these interests to Salt Lake City in moving here with her then-husband Jim and her growing family in 1956. She was gifted with a versatile singing voice capable of expression of deep feeling, as reflected in her desire to be both an opera singer and a jazz singer at different times. However, the circumstances of her life pointed to folk music and storytelling as the best medium for her art. Rosalie brought with her a gift for welcoming people in, for making common cause with them, and for fostering their artistic growth even as she developed her own art. (Having early befriended Bruce “U. Utah” Phillips, she became an ardent promoter of his songs.)

The vitality of Salt Lake City’s folk music scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s and its coalescence into an artistic movement owes virtually everything to Rosalie’s warmth, hospitality, and willingness to reach out, which resulted not only in her own success collecting and performing traditional folksong materials from both Idaho and Utah (enough for the eventual publication of a book, Way Out in Idaho, in 1990), but also in the foundation, with husband Jim and others, of the Intermountain Folk Music Council in 1961, and, between 1958 and 1966, in the production of hugely influential concerts in Salt Lake City by a wide variety of traditional and revival performers from outside Utah. For many people active in the folk music scene here, these concerts were life-changing. The artists included Guy Carawan, Jean Ritchie, Peggy Seeger, Jesse (Lone Cat) Fuller, The New Lost City Ramblers, The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Rolf Cahn, Joan Baez, Jack Elliott, Mitch Greenhill, Hedy West, Son House.

Rosalie combined her theatrical training with her musical and literary gifts in the March 1963 production of the concert Face of a Nation, which proved to be not only a highlight of the Salt Lake City urban revival, but also a key experience in the development of her later artistic life. Staged at the University of Utah Student Union, this collaborative program scripted by Rosalie and featuring herself, Bruce Phillips, and other performers, was a spoken collage of prose and poetry by Thomas Wolfe, Woody Guthrie, Nelson Algren and John Dos Passos, interspersed with songs by Woody Guthrie, Bruce Phillips, and others. When she left Salt Lake City in 1966 she had established the storytelling-singing format that was to become a hallmark of her career.(from 2007 Urban Pioneers concert program).

[ BACK TO TOP]

 

iconINTERVIEWS FOR POLLY STEWART ORAL HISTORY POJECT
  • March 4, 2005,  Part 1

Listen to the interview on Marriott Library's Media Streaming Site

Check out the interview in the Marriott Digital Libraries

Download interview transcripts

  • March 4, 2005,  Part 2

Listen to the interview on Marriott Library's Media Streaming Site

Check out the interview in the Marriott Digital Libraries

Download interview transcripts

  • March 4, 2005,  Part 3

Listen to the interview on Marriott Library's Media Streaming Site

Check out the interview in the Marriott Digital Libraries

Download interview transcripts

  • March 28, 2011,  Part 1

Listen to the interview on Marriott Library's Media Streaming Site

Check out the interview in the Marriott Digital Libraries

  • March 28, 2011,  Part 2

Listen to the interview on Marriott Library's Media Streaming Site

Check out the interview in the Marriott Digital Libraries

 

[ BACK TO TOP]

iconPERFORMANCE AT THE UTAH URBAN PIONEERS REUNION CONCERT

 

[ BACK TO TOP]

 

iconPUBLICATIONS BY ROSALIE SORRELS
IF I COULD BE THE RAIN (1967)

"Idaho ~ that's from an Indian phrase (Ee-dah-how) that says: 'See

the sun shining on the mountains' ~ and those mountains are something

else! Strong, craggy, stone monuments to earthquakes, volcanoes and

glaciers, they are ~ take your breath right away! If you go over

Galena summit on a Spring morning, you can drop down into a basin of

green light. Travel on a ways, and you'll come to a place where

stone pinnacles reflect like Gothic spires in the cold waters of

Redf ish Lake ~ and you can walk through forests as cool and quiet

as any house of God.

"In order to get to Redfish from Boise (where I was born and raised),

you have to go through a little town called Ketchum. Years ago (1914

or thereabouts) my grandfather, who was an Episcopal minister, used

to ski up there from Hailey (birthplace of Ezra Pound) once a month

to conduct services in a little frame church. For the past several

years I have been making it to the same church (now known as Leadville

Espresso) whenever I had an overwhelming urge to see some action. I'd

sing a little, swing a little, and down some Tequila under the benevolent

supervision of the Espresso King, Michael Solheim, the best

bartender in the world. And as Mrs. Espresso King, Milli Wiggins

Solheim, always used to say when she'd introduce me to the patrons

of . that splendid establishment, 'Kind of gives you a sense of continuity,

doesn't it?'" (Rosalie Sorrels, from "IF I COULD BE THE RAIN"1967 ) 

[ BACK TO TOP]

 

 

 

 

 

 Last Modified 8/29/13