Singer-songwriter John Flynn wears his heart on his guitar and uses his music to help struggling war veterans, children with AIDS and many others.
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John Flynn sings his conscience.
Like many performers, the Brandywine Hundred folk artist has been inspired by events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing war in Southeast Asia. Unlike many performers, Flynn is working hard to help those who are less fortunate.
Flynn’s recent CD release party at the Baby Grand in Wilmington, for example, raised $2,000 for construction of a safe house for veterans returning from war. Flynn wrote “Semper Fi” to share the story of Eric Hall, a U.S. Marine who returned from Iraq only to succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We haven’t done enough in the country to address the situation,” Flynn says. “It’s not in their nature to come home and ask for help. They say, ‘I’m going to suck it up and handle it myself.’ Sometimes, you can’t set your own broken leg.”
Flynn, who’s been making music for 25 years, performs across the country. He also leads discussion groups at local prisons and does charity shows for organizations such as Camp Dreamcatcher for children with HIV/AIDS.
Flynn hopes that “America’s Waiting,” his eighth CD, will inspire others to step up and pitch in. “You write a song to reach over, under or around the fence,” Flynn says. “It’s asking questions, not telling folks what to think, but waking them up. When it happens, it’s quite a powerful thing.”
Gene Shay, a folk music guru from Philadelphia and a friend of Flynn, says the singer-songwriter is the real deal.
“Aside from his obvious talent—he’s one of the best—he has a sense of responsibility,” Shay says. “He always has something going on, and it’s always good. He shares himself with the public. He’s one of the best in so many different ways.”
Flynn’s work is admired by legends Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. Flynn has performed with all three and Kristofferson has sung on two of Flynn’s albums.
“I would love to say John’s right on the cusp of stardom,” Shay says. “He is a star to many people. He has not achieved the trappings of stardom as far as record sales and a national audience, but people in the business respect him. It only takes one song.”
In the meantime, as one of his songs says, Flynn will strap on that guitar and go wake a heart. —Drew Ostroski
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