Noel Paul Stookey (born December 30, 1937) is an American singer-songwriter. Stookey is known as “Paul” in the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary; however, he has been known by his first name, Noel, throughout his life. He continues to work as a singer and an activist, performing as a solo artist, and occasionally performing with Peter Yarrow.
Stookey was born in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. His family moved to Birmingham, Michigan, when he was 12 years old, and he graduated from Birmingham High School (now Seaholm High School) in 1955.
Stookey is an alumnus of Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, Michigan. While attending MSU, he joined Delta Upsilon fraternity. Though he credits a deep spiritual core for his work, Stookey “dispelled reports that he was born a Buddhist, saying his mother was a Roman Catholic and his dad was an ex-Mormon” and recalling the family’s “eclectic attendance at church. I had no real spiritual sense until I was 30.'”
Stookey married Elizabeth “Betty” Bannard in 1963 and they have three daughters. After raising their family in Blue Hill, Maine, the couple lived for several years in Massachusetts while Betty served as the Northfield Mount Hermon School chaplain, and in 2005, they returned to Maine. Stookey originally recorded his solo albums in his private studio—a converted chicken coop—on his Maine property. This studio, known as “The Henhouse”, was also the origin point of the first broadcasts of WERU upon that station’s inception in 1988.
Stookey is a born again Christian.
Peter, Paul and Mary
Performing as Paul in the Peter, Paul and Mary trio, he participated in one of the best-known ensembles of the 1960s phase of the American folk music revival, and included some of his solo songs and extended monologues in their performances and recordings.
In addition to his recordings with the trio, he released a number of solo works, several albums with the ensemble Bodyworks, and some anthologies. He was an important artist in the young Jesus music movement, which would later bloom into the Christian music industry, although his generally liberal political views distinguish him from many such artists.
In 1986, Stookey teamed up with Jim Newton, Paul G. Hill, and Denny Bouchard at Celebration Shop in Texas. The company, now known as Hugworks, uses original musical compositions as music therapy to address the special needs of children.[non-primary source needed] The company has produced three award-winning children’s CDs used in hospitals, medical camps and homes across the country.
Stookey was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award by the World Folk Music Association in 2000.
After Peter, Paul and Mary
Paul performed as a member of Peter, Paul and Mary until the death of Mary in September 2009. His work after Peter, Paul and Mary has emphasized his Christian faith, family life and social concerns. He remains active in the music industry, performing as a solo act, and also performing occasionally with Peter Yarrow.
In 2000 Noel and his daughter, Elizabeth Stookey Sunde, founded the nonprofit Music to Life, which builds on the strong historical legacy of social movements’ intentional use of music to educate, recruit, and mobilize. M2L revitalizes music to meet the challenges of the modern world and revolutionize the role activist artists can play in accelerating social change. Music to Life understands the complexity of contemporary causes and the diversity of musical genres. They blend this knowledge with multimedia technologies and programming techniques to develop unique musical experiences that amplify an organization’s message, spark engagement with a cause, and empower activist artists to stand on the front lines of social change.
In January 2011, centered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Stookey participated in several events at Dartmouth College that celebrated King’s life, including “Music for Social Change with Noel Paul Stookey and Company.”
Stookey’s best-known composition is “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)”, that charted in 1971 and remains popular for performance during wedding services. He wrote the song as a wedding gift for Peter Yarrow, and refused to perform it for the public until Yarrow requested it at a concert where his wife was present. Stookey assigned the copyright of this song to the Public Domain Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)3 that facilitates the creation and impact of music for social change (M4SC). Generating over $1.5 million for charity worldwide, PDF has facilitated the creation of M4SC through its Music to Life (M2L) contest and other educational, entertainment and outreach activities, bringing together the global community, communicating how activism through music is alive and possible.
He also has production credits on albums by several lesser-known singer-songwriters, including Dave Mallett and Gordon Bok. He was the founder of the Neworld Multimedia record label.
Charting Single – Billboard (United States)
Year Title Record Label 2022 fazz:NOW&THEN Neworld Multimedia 2018 something’ special – a noel paul stookey holiday recollection Neworld Multimedia 2017 Summerfallwinterspring (four-song EP) Neworld Multimedia 2015 At Home: The Maine Tour (DVD and CD) Neworld Multimedia 2012 The Cabin Fever Waltz (EP with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra) Neworld Multimedia 2012 One & Many Neworld Multimedia 2012 Cue the Moon (digital download EP) Neworld Multimedia 2012 Capricious Bird (digital download EP) Neworld Multimedia 2012 One Voice and One Guitar (digital download EP) Neworld Multimedia 2007 Facets Neworld Multimedia 2004 Virtual Party Neworld Multimedia 2002 Circuit Rider (A Noel Paul Stookey / Bodyworks compilation) Neworld Multimedia 2001 There Is Love (A Holiday Music Celebration) with Michael Kelly Blanchard Neworld Multimedia 1990 In Love Beyond Our Lives (Noel Paul Stookey/ Bodyworks) Gold Castle 1985 State of the Heart (Noel Paul Stookey/ Bodyworks) Newpax 1984 There Is Love (A Noel Paul Stookey Anthology) Newpax 1982 Wait’ll You Hear This (Noel Paul Stookey/ Bodyworks) Newpax 1979 Band & Bodyworks (Noel Paul Stookey/ Bodyworks) Neworld 1977 Something New And Fresh Neworld 1977 Real To Reel Neworld 1973 One Night Stand Warner Bros. 1971 Paul And (Released August 16, 1971) Warner Bros 1954 “The Birds Fly Home (The Birds of Paradise, Stookey’s high school band)” Independent release
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- “KidLinks”. Kidlinks.org.
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- “Music for Social Change with Noel Paul Stookey and Company”. Archived from the original on January 17, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011., January 2011 (archived January 2011)
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- NPR interview broadcast August 30, 2008
- The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii)16 Aug 1971, MonPage 21