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About Bret Hesla

Bret Hesla spends his time leading singing with groups of ordinary people. With guitar and banjo, he has spent much of the past 25 years collecting, writing, songleading and performing music on issues of peace, justice and sustainable living.

Bret weaves music into everyday community life. Bret works to create a culture of singing both in the community and within organizations working on social change. His newest venture is Minnesota Community Sings, where he is working with songleaders to promote community singing by ordinary people in public. Bret has worked for over 10 years with St. Paul-based Advocating Change Together, using songleading and collective songwriting to advance civil rights and self-advocacy for people with developmental disabilities. He is a founding member of the nationally acclaimed music group Bread for the Journey, a Minneapolis-based group specializing in teaching songs of faith, hope, justice and inclusion from progressive Christian communities around the world. In 2005, Hesla and some friends launched a quarterly singing party series that rotates among several homes in south Minneapolis (big fun, big voices, small rooms, great treats)--singing traditional songs for group singing--May carols, rounds, younameit. He also works as a duo with fiddler/songwriter Linda Breitag.

Bret is a singers' songwriter, not a "singer songwriter." He writes songs meant to be sung by groups big and small (activists, passivists, revelers, churches, schools, camps, community choirs, neighborhood parties). The melodies are singable by average voices--and memorable. The lyrics reflect a commitment to community, peace, care of the earth, social justice and fishing. The keepers (which are many) are widely used (especially in schools and churches) and appear in numerous publications and recordings.