A Civil Rights Era Folk Singer in Riverdale

Folk singer and Riverdale resident Delores “Dee” Dixon (Photo by Photo by Adrian Fussell via The Riverdale Press)

Folk singer and Riverdale resident Delores “Dee” Dixon (Photo by Photo by Adrian Fussell via The Riverdale Press)

An exhibition on the rise of folk music in New York City and its influence on American society in the 1950s and 1960s is currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York. Featured among the musicians in “Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival” is Delores “Dee” Dixon of Riverdale, who lived in Harlem in the ‘60s and made music with the likes of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. She speaks to The Riverdale Press’ Will Speros, who writes:

Those well versed in the genre might recall Ms. Dixon as the sole female member of The New World Singers, a folk group that included Gil Turner and Bob Cohen. The band recorded one of the earliest versions of a protest song made famous by Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” A close friend of Mr. Dylan’s, Ms. Dixon claims he wrote the song in her Harlem apartment, drawing inspiration from the tune of a spiritual she used to sing.

The New World Singers performed in the south during the civil rights era, including at events involving Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Dixon was involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the major civil rights organizations then.

“We worked with those who were demonstrating because music is international and if you want to get something done, then: music. You gotta sing. Every group you know that demonstrates or pickets or whatever, they sing. That’s music,” Ms. Dixon said.

Go to The Riverdale Press to read about Dixon’s life in the decades after, which has included teaching and activism, and how singing, in her view, can serve as an alternative to violence.

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