Down to Earth in Concert
Kate Sanders and Paul Whitely, Jr. are the husband and wife duo known professionally as Down to Earth. They have been making music together since meeting as students at Georgetown College (a Baptist college in Kentucky not to be confused with the Catholic-run Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.). Paul has an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and Kate has an M.A. in music education from the University of Louisville. Kate Sanders is a poet, songwriter, and composer who plays several instruments. At last year’s annual Kentucky Folk Music Festival, Kate came just to observe and, at the last minute, entered the dulcimer competition–and took first place! Among her musical competitions is her own setting of Mary’s Magnificat and a tribute to Oscar Romero. She is also a social worker.
Paul Whitely, Jr. is an ordained Baptist minister who earns his living as a union organizer–mostly organizing poultry workers in Eastern Kentucky. (This is hard because the Powers conspire to turn people against each other so that they can more easily be exploited. After several textile mills were moved to Mexico from Eastern Kentucky–devastating the local economies for the sake of global capital–the Commonwealth of Kentucky offered huge tax incentives to poultry plants to move in and provide jobs for the area. The companies took the tax incentives and moved in, but, instead of hiring all local labor, stationed “recruiters” on the Texas-Mexico border and brought up cheap immigrant labor–often undocumented aliens, to fill the poultry jobs. Needless to say, this has led to much Anglo-Latino tension among workers who should be organized to work together for better wages and working conditions. Divide and conquer is an old strategy, but still effective.) Prior to becoming a labor organizer, Paul worked for Jobs with Justice, a national people’s campaign for jobs that pay living wages for all. He is also guitar player, singer, and songwriter who uses music in organizing for peace and justice. Paul and Kate are the volunteer Ministers of Music at Jeff Street Baptist Community at Liberty–my church. Together, they are raising two children, Martin and Sophia. Down to Earth specializes in music of faith and social struggle. Their first CD is finished and will be available soon.
They gave a concert after evening worship on Wednesday (25 July) at Peace Camp–giving a small taste to the folks of the good music my congregation gets to enjoy nearly every week.
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