UnEarthed: Holly Near


NAME: Holly Near

CRAFT: actress, singer, songwriter

DIG SITE: Episode 3.23 of The Partridge Family, March 16, 1973

Image result for holly near

Watching “The Selling of the Partridge”, a third season episode of The Partridge Family, I noticed the girl playing Phyllis. Keith Partridge (David Cassidy) was up against Phyllis as the two vied to be class president. The gist of the episode is that, while Keith is the more popular candidate, Phyllis is obviously the better choice for president.

It’s good casting as Holly Near is, shall we say, “plain” looking but is possessed of charisma and a rather striking speaking voice. I decided to grab my shovel and head out and dig a test pit.

In the early ’70’s, Near appeared on television and on the big screen in Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) and she also appeared on Broadway in Hair. But her early efforts were directed at initiating change as she joined forces with noted anti-war activists. She became one of the first women to found her own record company when she started Redwood Records, a label that devoted itself to releasing records by politically conscious artists. Near has worked with countless musicians and has received many awards for her efforts in the arena of social change.

Holly with Joan Baez.

For the last fifty years, Near has been an outspoken proponent of feminism, anti-war activism and LGBT issues. She’s got Kevin Bacon for a cousin and she has written hundreds of songs, one even finding itself into the official hymnal of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Obviously, her brief foray into ’70’s television, her one-off episode spent battling Keith Partridge for the school presidency, was just a blip on her way to a more productive and meaningful career.

Holly Near is still active today, still using music in her attempts to make a difference in the world.

Holly with Sean Penn and Jesse Jackson.

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