Award-winning Songwriter, Speaker, Writer and Activist
Offering a concert on Saturday evening of #EAD2019 is David LaMotte, an award-winning songwriter, speaker and writer. He has performed over 3000 concerts and released twelve full-length CDs of primarily original music, touring in all of the fifty states, as well as five of the seven continents. The Boston Globe writes that his music “pushes the envelope with challenging lyrics and unusual tunings, but he also pays homage to folk tradition,” while BBC Radio Belfast lauds his “charm, stories, humour, insightful songs, sweet voice and dazzling guitar ability.”
His dense speaking and workshop calendar has included presenting at the PC(USA) Mission to the United Nations, keynoting peace conferences in Berlin and at the Scottish Parliament, as well as offering the baccalaureate for 2016 graduates of Columbia Seminary. As a keynote speaker, and then Critical Conversations Coordinator, he has facilitated conversations about race, privilege, and positive change for thousands of college students at the Montreat College Conference. His TEDx talk on what music can teach us about peacemaking was published in 2018.
LaMotte suspended his eighteen-year music career at its peak in 2008 to pursue his other primary vocation by accepting a Rotary World Peace Fellowship to study International Relations, Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. As part of that study, he also spent time in rural Andhra Pradesh, India working with a Gandhian development organization.
David has published three books, including two illustrated children’s books. The first based on his award-winning children’s song SS Bathtub and the second, White Flour, tells the true story of a creative, effective, and whimsical response to a Ku Klux Klan march in Knoxville, Tennessee by a group called the Coup Clutz Clowns. His most recent book, Worldchanging 101: Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness, is being used as a textbook in universities in the United States and Australia.
In 2004, David and his wife Deanna founded PEG Partners, a non-profit organization that supports literacy, critical thought, and artistic expression in Guatemala. He continues to serve as the President of PEG. He is also a consultant on Peace and Justice for the North Carolina Council of Churches, and served as Clerk the AFSC Nobel Peace Prize Nominating Task Group.
LaMotte’s latest solo album, The Other Way Around, features musicians from every inhabited continent, and guest appearances from Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nicky Sanders and Graham Sharp of the Steep Canyon Rangers, and bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, among a large cast of musicians. It was released in September of 2016, and debuted at #8 on the Folk-DJ chart.
Touring full-time for over twenty-five years, LaMotte has developed a large and loyal following around the world. His music has been honored with numerous awards and artist grants, and has been featured on dozens of artist compilations. Notably, his song “Dark and Deep” was included on “Songs Inspired By Literature, Chapter One,” a benefit CD to raise money for adult literacy. Other artists on that CD include Suzanne Vega, Grace Slick, Aimee Mann and Bruce Springsteen. Several independent films feature David’s music, and it has been heard on the Today Show and the Showtime television series “This American Life.”
LaMotte is currently also working as part of a musical trio, Abraham Jam, an interfaith band made up of a Christian (David), a Muslim (Dawud Wharnsby), and a Jew (Billy Jonas). Their debut album, Abraham Jam Live, was released in November, 2018, and they are already working on a studio album, to come out in the summer of 2019. He is also the creator of “Let’s Be Neighbors,” a website based on a sign he hung on his house, and rooted in the idea that we seldom reject each other into making more compassionate decisions. Let’s Be Neighbors banners are now hanging across the United States, including a large one on Abraham Lincoln’s church in Springfield, Illinois.
As a result of his work with schools in Guatemala, he was named a “Madison World Changer” by his undergraduate alma mater, James Madison University. David makes his home in Black Mountain, North Carolina, with his wife Deanna and son Mason. He is currently touring extensively, speaking and performing.