Ronnie Gilbert

Ronnie Gilbert was born in New York City in 1926 and raised by her union activist mother, Sarah Gilbert, a dressmaker. At an early age she was taken to a rally to hear Paul Robeson sing and from that day forward she lived a life committed to social justice and the arts. Ronnie rose to fame during the ’40s-’50s as the soaring contralto voice of the folk quartet The Weavers, who were eventually blacklisted during the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy. After receiving an MA in psychology Ronnie made her way to British Columbia for several years where she was a therapist and founded a local theatre company. She began to travel back and forth to New York City to be part of Joseph Chaikin’s avant garde Open Theater. Along the way she met Holly Near and was welcomed into the women’s music community. She toured and recorded extensively on her own and with Holly for the rest of her performing life. She wrote and performed a one-woman musical play about Mother Jones and acted in regional theatres throughout the country. Ronnie’s daughter Lisa Weg and granddaughter live in northern California. She and Donna Korones were married in 2004 under a decree by Mayor Gavin Newsom which made same sex marriage legal in the city of San Francisco. Ronnie’s memoir A Radical Life in Song was published shortly after she died in 2015.

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