Tom Key

Tom Key has served since 1995 as The Executive Artistic Director of Theatrical Outfit with the purpose to give dramatic voice to the spiritual themes of the American South. Over two decades, Key has become one of Atlanta's most prominent actors, especially noted for his appearances in Theatrical Outfit's Bloodknot, Hard Times, Summer and Smoke and Our Town and The Alliance Theater's Art, Woody Guthrie's American Song and Candide. He has been a solo performer in demand across North America for more than two decades, including appearances of his C.S. Lewis On Stage and The Revelation of John at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lambs Theater off Broadway, The Westwood Playhouse of Los Angeles, The Alliance Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Oxford University, England, Harvard and Yale Universities; as Narrator for Beethoven's Egmont with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, for Peter and the Wolf at The Atlanta Ballet and as the artist Whistler at The Atlanta High Museum of Art.

He conceived and co-authored the off-Broadway hit, Cotton Patch Gospel with the late singer-songwriter, Harry Chapin. It was published by Dramatic Publishing Company, earned two Dramalogue Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Theater, a nomination for Key as Best Actor by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and, after two decades, it has received thousands of productions across North America.

His adaptations of Walker Percy's novels: Lost in the Cosmos - The Last Self Help Seminar and The Moviegoer premiered at Theatrical Outfit. He has had featured appearances on numerous television films with Ann Margaret, Karl Malden, Lee Grant and George Segal, the award winning television series In the Heat of the Night and I'll Fly Away and the feature films Gordy and The Adventures of Ociee Nash. He has received critical praise for his performances, direction, or scripts from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Dallas Morning News, and The Boston Herald.

A 1977 honors MA graduate in Theater Arts from The University of Tennessee, Mr. Key served as Artist in Residence and Guest Lecturer from 1991 to 1997 at Emory University and resides in Atlanta with his wife Beverly Key, visual artist and mother to their three children, Simon, Stephen and Charlie.

(From Associates & Savidge)

Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin, composer and lyricist, died in an automobile accident on July 16, 1981. He was deeply committed to his music and to the many humanitarian causes he helped further, notably President Carter's Commission on World Hunger. He devoted fully half of his annual concerts to benefiting others.

Harry Chapin gained national attention with his recording of "Taxi," and continued to appear regularly on the charts with such subsequent hits as "Cat's in the Cradle, "WOLD," "I Wanna Learn a Love Story," and his last album called "Sequel."

Born into a family of musicians, he attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado and Cornell University before starting a career in filmmaking in 1965. He received an Academy Award nomination for his documentary "Legendary Champions," later using the same story-telling skills in his song writing.

In 1975, he wrote and starred on Broadway in his musical "The Night That Made America Famous" which received two Tony nominations. His many other achievements included composing songs for the Peabody Award-winning children's television series "Make a Wish" (hosted by his brother Tom), selling over 60,000 copies of his book of poetry entitled "Looking...Seeing," and recording and releasing eleven albums. He was working on his twelfth album to be titled "The Last Protest Singer" at the time of his death. Cotton Patch Gospel represents his last completed songs.

(From the "Cotton Patch Gospel" book)

Russell Treyz

Russell Treyz won a Drama Desk Award for directing his first off-Broadway play, Whitsunitide. Also in New York, Mr. Treyz has directed for American Place Theater, Playwrights Horizons, the New Dramatists, Judson Poet's Theatre, La Mama, etc. His extensive regional credits include the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Godspeed Opera, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse, the North Shore Music Theatre, the Pacific Conservatory, the McCarter Repertory Theatre, and Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Mr. Treyz is a graduate of Princeton University and the Yale School of Drama.

(From the "Cotton Patch Gospel" book)

Clarence Jordan

Clarence Jordan (Author of The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John) is famed for having founded Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, a pioneering interracial farming community in the heart of the Deep South. He received his B.S. in agriculture from the University of Georgia , and Th.M. and Ph.D. in New Testament Greek from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Sermon on the Mount and has recordings of his original translations of the scriptures called "The Rich Man and Lazarus" and "The Great Banquet."

Dr. Jordan has written several versions of the Gospel including The Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles, The Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts, The Cotton Patch Version of Hebrews and General Epistles, and The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John, upon which Cotton Patch Gospel is based. The Biblical vitality of these translations makes clear their startling relevance for today. It was said that his books "explode in our ears the mighty ideas which transformed the early disciples and enabled them to turn their world upside down." The messages are taken out of the study and stained-glass sanctuary and placed under the sky where people toil, laugh, cry, and wonder -- not only a translation into modern American English but into modern American ideas.

(From the "Cotton Patch Gospel" book)

The Cotton Pickers

While not directly involved in the creation of Cotton Patch Gospel, the Cotton Pickers were the original four musicians who were part of the show's initial New York run, and who also appear on the videotaped performance. They are:

  • Scott Ainslie - fiddle, banjo, dobro, mandolin
  • Pete Corum - bass fiddle
  • Jim Lauderdale - banjo, guitar
  • Michael Mark - guitar, mandolin

Sites About the People Behind Cotton Patch Gospel

Clarence Jordan's Koinonia Farm

Associates & Savidge: Tom Key

Theatrical Outfit - Tom Key's Atlanta theater. - Official Chapin Website.

The Harry Chapin Archive

Jim Lauderdale

Cattail Music - Scott Ainslie.

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