Singer-songwriter Trio Use Voices to Get the Vote Out

When musicians plan a national tour, the usual impetus is to promote a new recording and reconnect with fans. But when Grammy winner Patty Griffin invited Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell to join her on a national tour it was with a different objective in mind – to promote discussion about voter engagement during a presidential election year.

“The Use Your Voice Tour 2016,” which has partnered with the League of Women Voters, stops at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, March 5, as part of a 38-city tour. The performance will be preceded at 5 p.m. by a panel discussion, “Amplifying the Voices on the Ground,” focusing on issues for communities that are traditionally marginalized.

Watkins, who first came to prominence as a founding member of the progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek, says she and Mitchell were quick to accept Griffin’s invitation to join forces to promote voter education.

“It’s something Patty’s been very vocal and passionate about for some time,” Watkins said over the phone from South Carolina, as the tour worked its way up the East Coast. “As a group we don’t have a combined album to promote, which is the normal reason to tour. The League of Women Voters has been a common cause for the three of us. … We’re not preaching politics to people. We’re trying to bring awareness to the importance of being involved in your community.”

Molly Rockett ’15 (CLAS), a recent UConn honors graduate in political science and former intern for both U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney ’78 JD and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, will introduce the performers and discuss the League of Women Voters voter engagement effort.

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“The Use Your Voice Tour 2016” takes place on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, 2132 Hillside Road, Storrs. For more information go to the Jorgensen website.