FOLKSINGER, songwriter and radio host Oscar Brand, who refused to bow to US anti-communist hysteria in the 1940s and ’50s, died at his home in Great Neck, New York, at the weekend aged 96.
The Canadian-born troubadour presented his Folksong Festival programme for public radio station WNYC for 70 years, with the final edition broadcast on September 24 as he lay in hospital.
His programme was offered as a public service. He never accepted payment for his work.
Mr Brand contributed to the folk music revival in the 1940s, collaborating with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Josh White, Burl Ives and Pete Seeger. His radio guests included Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Odetta, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell.
While never a Communist Party member, he supported free speech, giving a platform to politically committed artists, including those blacklisted.
The House Un-American Activities Committee denounced him as a “communist sympathiser,” calling his show a “pipeline of communism.”