Defending the Band (and the Orchestra): Meet Ray Hair, Pres. of the American Federation of Musicians
Organized labor, generally speaking, has had a tough time of it in our country over the last several decades; from coast to coast, for many reasons, professional unions have been minimized, marginalized, disrespected, demonized, etc. But has this also been the case for today's professional musicians? Our guest is Raymond Hair, Jr., the President of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (or AFM). This labor union, founded in 1896, is the largest organization in the world representing the interests of professional musicians. Ray Hair was re-elected president at the AFM's Las Vegas convention last year; he has been the AFM's president since August of 2010. (Hair's work as a professional musician dates back to 1964, performing as a freelance, club-date, recording, and traveling musician.) Previously, Hair was president of AFM Local 72-147 (in Dallas-Fort Worth) for more than 25 years, and he was first elected to the AFM's international executive board in 1989. We spoke with him late last week, when he was in Tulsa to attend the AFM's Southern Conference, which was held over the weekend. With all the drastic changes occurring amid today's music-related (and entertainment-related) technology, the rights, wages, and opportunities of professional musicians have increasingly endangered, as Hair explains. One initiative he's promoting in this regard, for example, is the AFM's Listen Up campaign, whereby the musicians' union argues that U.S. films and television programs should be scored domestically, not overseas, especially when they receive (as so many film projects do these days) tax credits at the local, state, and/or federal level. Also on this installment of ST, we remember our late friend, brilliant colleague, and kind-hearted mentor, Edward Dumit --- the unmistakable voice of both KWGS and KWTU, and a longtime professor here at TU --- who died on Friday at the age of 84.