By Dawoud Kringle
Anne Feeney, folk musician, mainstay in the folk music movement and political and labor activist, has died.
Feeney was born July 1, 1951, in Charleroi, PA, and lived in the Brookline neighborhood of Pittsburgh. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1978, she spent 12 years practicing as a trial lawyer, primarily representing refugees and survivors of domestic violence. She was an active member of the American Federation of Musicians and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). She served on the executive board of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW), and as the president of the Pittsburgh Musicians’ Union from 1981 to 1997, the first and only woman to ever hold that position.
She became a regular at major folk festivals , released 12 albums, and collaborated or performed with Pete Seeger, John Prine, and Peter Paul and Mary, Loretta Lynn, John Prine, Toshi Reagon, The Mammals, Dan Bern, the Indigo Girls, and Billy Bragg. Her anthem Have You Been to Jail for Justice is sung on picket lines and in jail cells around the world. She performed more than 4,000 shows across North America and Europe performing for striking workers, in union halls, and large protests. Her performance at the World Trade Organization protests in 1999 was featured in the documentary “This is What Democracy Looks Like.” She also organized dozens of tours supporting various causes, including the Sing Out for Single Payer Healthcare tour in 2009, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for strike funds and progressive causes.