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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)February 11, 2004

(Mahwah) – Folksinger John Gorka, with guest artist Ellis Paul, will take center stage at the Sharp Theater on the Ramapo College of New Jersey campus Friday, March 5 at 8 p.m.

Called the preeminent male singer/songwriter of the new folk movement” by Rolling Stone, Gorka’s rich multi-faceted songs full of depth, beauty and emotion have gained attention from critics and audiences here and throughout Europe.

Godfrey Daniels, a small coffeehouse and hangout for music lovers and aspiring musicians, is one of the oldest and most venerable music institutions in eastern Pennsylvania. It was there in the late ’70s that Gorka, then a Moravian College student studying philosophy and history, was the club’s M.C. and soundman. Legendary folk troubadours including Canadian singer and songwriter Stan Rogers, Eric Andersen, Tom Paxton and Claudia Schmidt inspired him. Soon, he was performing his own songs, mostly as an opening act for visiting musicians.

In New York City, the Fast Folk circle (a breeding ground for singers and songwriters) became a source of education and encouragement. In 1987, Red House Records released Gorka’s first album, I Know, to popular and critical acclaim. With backing from Windham Hill’s imprint, Hill Street Records, he recorded five albums: Land of the Bottom Line, Jack’s Crows, Temporary Road, Out of the Valley and Between Five and Seven.

Other performers discovered his songwriting. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell have recorded and/or performed Gorka’s songs. His video for the single When She Kisses Me” found a long-term rotation on VH-1’s Current Country,” as well as on CMT and the Nashville Network. He has also graced the stage of Austin City Limits.

In 1998, the recording artist returned to his musical roots at Red House Records. His latest album, the company you keep, reflects his continuing commitment to the craft of songwriting. It’s full of trademark twists of lyric and attention to details, yet moves forward down new avenues.

Guest artist Ellis Paul is the chief architect of what has become known as the Boston school of songwriting, an urbane, literate folk-pop style that helped ignite the folk revival of the ’90s. Though he remains among the most pop-friendly of today’s singer-songwriters – his songs regularly appear in hit movies and television soundtracks – he has bridged the gulf between the modern folk sound and the populist traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

He has released 10 CDs, and recently explored new media avenues with a documentary/concert DVD called 3,000 Miles and Notes from the Road, a critically acclaimed book of poems and stories. In recent years, he also has departed from his solo career to tour and record with longtime colleague Vance Gilbert, and to indulge his respect for folk icon Woody Guthrie. He appeared with the all-star Guthrie tribute tour, Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway.” For his CD, The Speed of Trees, he wrote a modern musical setting of Guthrie’s unpublished lyric God’s Promise.”

Tickets for John Gorka’s performance, with guest Ellis Paul, are $23 for adults, $20 for seniors and $12 for youth. The Sharp Theater is located in the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts on the Ramapo College campus. For more information call 201.684.7844.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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