June 22, 2024

Kris Kristofferson by Fans, for Fans

In appreciation of the Silver Tongued Devil

Kris Kristofferson Concert & Interview 2008

Kris Kristofferson Concert and Interview 2008 – Oslo

Kris performed at the Music Freedom Day concert in Oslo, Norway on 3 March in 2008.  This event was notable as it aligned two of his passions, making music and promoting his views on freedom and fairness for all.  At 72, he is as graceful, convicted and articulate as ever.

Music is emotive, and artists are penalised and managed out of the system if they say (or sing) too much about too much.  Kris has often fallen out with the establishment and the powers that be for voicing his often unpopular views on wars, injustice, his country’s foreign policy and other sensitive issues.  Although we often think of censorship as belonging to autocratic regimes, it is sadly alive and thriving in the so-called free nations of the world and continues today.  The means may differ, but power and money call the shots all over the world.  Kristofferson was harshly penalised by the music and the film industry, and given this powerful opposition, it is a testament to the man that his art and music won through.

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During his career, Kris has had his concerts picketed by citizens, police, and at times, even the FBI.  His records were taken off playlists with the excuse that he was “unmarketable”.  He faced open opposition by the authorities in Russia, where he witnessed violence and brutality against his audience during an informal performance that he did after his official gig was cancelled on some pretext.  These acts followed him coming out publicly against war and oppression after visiting places like Nicaragua, Cuba, and Russia and for speaking out against domestic and foreign policies and actions of the US government.

Kris Kristofferson has always had his own ideas and has expressed these whenever the opportunity has arisen.  He speaks through interviews, the causes he supports, lyrics and directly to audiences during his live shows.  I have often been surprised at some of the things I have learnt listening to him speak from the stage about the latest outrage or lesser known talent whose work he respects.  This amazingly talented man is a real human being and when he speaks you sense that he speaks from his heart.

NRK journalist Sigbjørn Nedland asked Kris to write a song to mark the Nobel Peace prize’s centenary, but he declined and in explanation told the journalist that he would never write a song on anyone’s demand.  While filming in Europe, Mr Nedland met with Kris after the artist contacted him and said that he may have a song that might fit the occasion after all.

“The Circle” was recorded by the journalist in Kris’ hotel room in Prague and was then taken to the Zimbabwean singer Chiwoniso Maraire in Dar-es-Salaam.  She added some verses to Kris’ text, and they sang the song together at the Music Freedom Day Concert in 2008.  The result was a powerful and very moving song about issues that affect most of our world today, Central America, Asia, Iraq and most of Africa.  Many more countries are sadly being added to this list as wars and the effects of war infiltrate ever more of our world.

Chiwoniso Maraire, known fondly as “The Mbira Queen”  is a songwriter known for playing this instrument traditionally played by men.  Although born in the USA, she completed her schooling in Zim where she lived until she died, aged just 37.

In this world, we continue to seek answers from the lying leaders – Rise up spirit of the people, rise up and lead us….”  Chiwoniso Maraire.

Kris’ interview follows, with clips from the “The Circle” that he sings with her.  (with thanks to freemuse.org for allowing me to use this material here)

Credits:  Link to the full interview and text here http://freemuse.org/archives/1176 , editorial and video used with kind courtesy of freemuse.org.


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