Posted May 3, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

New York Guitar Festival’s Online Tribute to Honor Street Singer Gary Davis

Rev Gary Davis Tribute
Rev Gary Davis Tribute

Rev. Gary Davis performed on the streets of Harlem from the late 1940s until his death in 1972. 

“Rev. Gary Davis is one of those curious figures in music history who should be famous, but who’s also a lot better known than you might think,” WNYC’s John Schaefer explains in a press release about an upcoming online tribute to the man that the New Guitar Festival will host. 

Davis made numerous influential recordings and festival appearances, and also taught students including David Bromberg, Stefan Grossman, Dave Van Ronk, and Bob Weir. His songs have been covered by the Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan.

 “Listening to, and sharing, music has been a lifeline for so many people during this period of social isolation,” says New York Guitar Festival’s artistic director David Spelman. “We hope this project will spread the joy and shine a light on the remarkable music and resilient life of Reverend Gary Davis.”

Presented live on YouTube beginning May 4, 2020, the 12-song series commissions, dubbed Reverend Gary Davis: In Search of the Harlem Street Singer, will feature a diverse group of stellar artists––including Bill Frisell, Rosanne Cash & John Leventhal, Fantastic Negrito and Amythyst Kiah

The program will feature one video performance at 4pm EDT each day from May 4 until May 15 via the New York Guitar Festival YouTube channel

In partnership with the New York Guitar Festival, WNYC’s New Sounds will debut audio recordings of the full collection on May 4.

Access to Reverend Gary Davis: In Search of the Harlem Street Singer is free. The New York Guitar Festival and performing artists request that viewers make donations to MusiCares.


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].