Anne Feeney hellraiser memorial fund announces first round of artist grants

Artwork by Ricardo Levins Morales

The Anne Feeney “Hellraiser Fund” established to honor the memory and carry forward the legacy of renowned labor singer Anne Feeney, has announced its first two grant recipients: Mecca Russell, aka Neffy, a 24-year-old independent folk musician and composer based in Arlington, VA, and Mickey O’Brien, a rapper and union mineworker USW 6500 currently on strike in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

Each of the two finalists will receive a grant of $1,000 from the Labor Heritage Foundation, who are fiscally sponsoring the Anne Feeney memorial fund. The memorial fund was established by close friends and family in July, 2021, after Anne Feeney passed away due to complications stemming from COVID-19. It seeks to carry on Anne’s work of fostering and encouraging emerging artists who are using their work to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

Mecca Russel writes: “[My] music stems from my rich ancestral heritage of Bluegrass acoustic and vocals, both entrenched in African-American history tracing back to slavery. Continuing this musical and historical lineage as a young woman feels radical in today’s climate.”

Mickey O’Brien writes that funds from the grant will be used toward the recording and production of a new album, “Shift Change.”

Read the original announcement about the Hellraiser Fund here:

Anne Feeney was “the best labor singer in North America,” according to Utah Phillips, “a fearless and formidable force,” according to Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and “rocked the house” according to Dar Williams. She was also a mentor who generously gave her time and support to help jump-start the careers of many young and up-and-coming songwriters, activists, and artists who carry on the tradition of using music and art as a tool and a weapon in support of movements for social, economic, and environmental justice. She especially supported young women, queer and trans artists, working class artists and artists of color by sharing her wisdom, her contacts, and the stage. The Anne Feeney Hell Raiser Fund is a fund fiscally sponsored by the Labor Heritage Foundation that will carry on Anne’s work of constantly passing the torch and lifting up the voices of emerging activist artists. Each year the fund will provide small grants to artists carrying forward Anne Feeney’s rabble rousing legacy. Grants between $500–1,000 will be used to support a recording project, subsidize a tour, or support in the creation of original music, theater, or other artwork that comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Winners will also receive the right to put “hellraiser” on their business card, just as Anne Feeney did throughout her career.

Another round of $500–1,000 grants will be given again next year on Labor Day, 2022. Those wishing to apply can do so here.

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