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Malvina Reynolds

Primary Song Genres: 

Malvina Reynolds (August 23, 1900 – March 17, 1978) was an American folk singer-songwriter and political activist. She came into performing folk music some late in life. She met Pete Seeger at age 47 and asked him how she could start doing what he was doing - making the world a better place by singing at rallies, union meetings, etc. He confessed later that as a brash 28 year old he recalled thinking this white haired woman was pretty old to be beginning a career in folk music! 

She became well known after a number of her songs were recorded in the 1960's by Pete Seeger, The Seekers, The Kingston Trio, and many other folk and popular artists.

Her song "Turn Around" was featured in an iconic Kodak ad in 1960. Her song "Little Boxes" became the theme song for the Showtime TV series "Weeds". "Magic Penny" 

A documentary on her life "Love Like a Fool" by Susan Wengraf was filmed in 1977 less than a year before her death. I was unable to find a place you can buy a DVD of this film in a web search.

  1. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0782142/
  2. Watch a rather poor recording on the film YouTube: https://youtu.be/BvOscTN_354


You can buy some of her CDs and songbooks from her daughter Nancy Schimmel's website at http://www.sisterschoice.com/catalog.html#malvina

From Schroeder Music:


Born Malvina Milder of Jewish socialist immigrant parents in San Francisco, Malvina was refused her diploma by Lowell High School because her parents were opposed to US participation in World War I. She entered UC Berkeley anyway, and received her BA and MA in English. She married William Reynolds, a carpenter and organizer, in 1934 and had one child, Nancy, in 1935. She completed her dissertation and was awarded her Doctorate in 1939. It was the middle of the Depression, she was Jewish, socialist, and a woman. She could not find a job teaching at the college level. She became a social worker and a columnist for the People's World and, when World War II started, an assembly-line worker at a bomb factory. When her father died, she and her husband took over her parents' naval tailor shop in Long Beach, California. There in the late forties she met Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger and other folk singers and songwriters and began writing songs.

She returned to Berkeley, and to the University, where she took music theory classes in the early fifties. She gained recognition as a songwriter when Harry Belafonte sang her "Turn Around." Her songs were recorded by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Seekers, Pete Seeger, and the Limeliters, among others. She wrote songs for Women for Peace, the Nestle Boycott, the sit-ins in San Francisco on auto row and at the Sheraton-Palace, the fight against putting a freeway through Golden Gate Park and other causes. She toured Scandinavia, England and Japan. A film biography, Love It Like a Fool, was made a few years before she died in 1978.

For further information call Schroder Music at (510) 524-5804. (may be an old phone #)

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