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Judy Fjell grew up in Montana listening to folk-protest music on the radio and was so inspired to sing the repertoire that she bought a garage sale guitar and taught herself to play.
Nancy Schimmel, the daughter of Malvina Reynolds, experienced firsthand her mother’s protest stories and songs in Berkeley, California. Nancy Schimmel truly knows the life of Malvina Reynolds better than anyone else alive today.
When Judy and Nancy met at a Fjell concert in Oakland, California, in the mid-eighties, they began a conversation and collaboration which continues to the present. Each Malvina Reynolds concert is a one-time-only celebration of the life of this American songwriter, who collaborated regularly with Pete Seeger and whose songs are still performed forty years after her death. Malvina’s song “Little Boxes” is currently known from the Weeds television series. It has also been seen on YouTube by 13 million viewers in Walk Off the Earth’s brilliant cardboard box set video. Kodak adapted “Turn Around,” Malvina’s song about her daughter Nancy for its television ads in the sixties. A civil rights sit-in at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel inspired Malvina to write “It Isn’t Nice,” still a favorite at protest gatherings. Other well-known Malvina songs are “What Have They Done to the Rain,” “Magic Penny,” “God Bless the Grass,” and “Morningtown Ride,” which was a top hit in England for several weeks. Judy and Nancy will also perform several of the songs they have co-written in the “spirit of Malvina.”