If you are looking for the best songs and stories for children,
let the words and music of A Gentle Wind surround you with wonder and magic....
"It's an absolute must to see Sparky in concert!"
Photo by A. Marc Shamblin
|JAMES "SPARKY" RUCKER has been singing songs and telling stories from the American tradition for over fifty years. Sparky also performs with his wife, Rhonda Rucker, and together they travel across the country and give educational performances in schools and colleges. They appeared on the Grammy-nominated CD, Singing Through the Hard Times, in 2009. Sparky has released sixteen albums, and their 1991 release, Treasures and Tears, was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Recording.
Sparky grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and began playing guitar at age eleven. He also played trumpet in the school marching band and sang in church, school, and community choirs throughout his childhood.
Sparky is an activist who has been involved with the civil rights movement since the 1950s. He participated in workshops with many prominent people in the movement, such as Rosa Parks, Myles Horton, and Bernice Reagon. During the 1960s, he served as Vice President of the Black Student Union at the University of Tennessee. He worked with the Poor People's Campaign and several civil rights organizations, marched shoulder-to-shoulder with SNCC Freedom Singers Matthew and Marshall Jones and played freedom songs at rallies, marches, and sit-ins alongside other folksingers such as Guy Carawan and Pete Seeger.
|During Sparky's career, he has been on the boards of Sing Out! magazine, the John Henry Memorial Foundation, and the Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project (SFCRP). He also toured throughout the South with the SFCRP for several years with such luminaries as Johnny Shines, Olabelle Reed, Nimrod Workman, Hedy West, Mike Seeger, and Bessie Jones & the Georgia Sea Island Singers.
Sparky's expert blues and bottleneck style of guitar playing makes him a popular teacher at folk music camps and schools such as Common Ground on the Hill in MD and the Augusta Heritage Center in WV. As a keynote speaker and a solo performer, Sparky has appeared on NPR's Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition. Sparky has also performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the International Storytelling Festival. Sparky's unique renditions of "John Henry" and "Jesse James" were used in the National Geographic Society’s 1994 video entitled Storytelling in North America. He also performed in Carry It On and Amazing Grace: Music in America, two videos produced by the Public Broadcasting System.
Youngest Years | Preschool-Early Elementary | Loving Values | Stories | Tickle Your Funny Bone | Listed by Title/Artist