Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Carole King has never been idle or complacent. Though she fled California for rural Idaho in 1977 (after recording her hit album Tapestry) in search of a more down-to-earth environment, King can hardly be accused of hiding out in the mountains. For 26 years, King has called Idaho home and though she jokes that she is alternately labeled a native and a newcomer, it is clear that her love affair with the Gem State and its people is both enduring and true.
Between recording umpteen albums and embarking on numerous tours across the globe, King has connected the personal and the political, love and legislature. For 14 years, King has been a fierce proponent of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), a cutting edge environmental bill intended to protect the Wild Rockies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. And since 2000 she has been a rowdy, loyal cheerleader for John Kerry. Four years ago, King met Kerry in a tent at the Sun Valley Symphony and was asked to lend her support to Kerry's then-senatorial campaign. Before agreeing, she went home to do some homework. "I looked up his record and I was so impressed with the work he had done--I've been on board ever since."
The vibrant and unbelievably youthful-looking King recently performed at the Democratic National Convention, an experience she described as ''awesome." This past week she took time off from her very successful "Living Room Tour" (her first musical tour in a decade) to travel across her home state on behalf of the Kerry campaign. Addressing over 500 people at the Ada County Democrats picnic in Winstead Park on August 9, King greeted the impressive crowd warmly: "We Idahoans know how to have a party." Before leading the crowd in a sing-along of her classic "You've Got A Friend," King spoke of the buzz for change she feels in the state. She urged Idaho's independent thinkers to consider making an informed, independent decision about who to vote for on November 2 and she reassured folks they don't have to leave the Republican party to vote for the right candidate--John Kerry.
Dispersed through the crowd of close-knit Boise Dems were a few registered Republicans, some blatantly seeking a free opportunity to hear the folk icon and resolutely denying a Kerry sticker at the entrance, others uneasy about the current state of affairs under the Bush administration. It's these folks King hopes to inspire to vote for change. "The most important thing about a candidate is whether their values match yours. I work with some really good Republicans on Capitol Hill. For me it is more about the person. I would have no problem voting for a Republican if that person represented my values."
From Boise, King went on to make appearances on behalf of Kerry in Mountain Home, Gooding, Jerome, Sun Valley, Twin Falls, Burley, Pocatello and Blackfoot, encountering all kinds of Idahoans from every economic, political and social stratum. The fact that many of her neighbors in Custer County are disenchanted with what's going on politically--the outrageous deficit, the very confusing reasons we went to war and the truncated four-day school week in Custer County (King has renamed "No Child Left Behind" to "No School Left Standing"), has given her confidence that other Idahoans are also frustrated.
King indicts the present political climate in this country as "horrifying," given the lack of respect across party lines, the lack of respect in the world for America and the overall climate of fear. "I want to see people in office who encourage us to think beyond the fear, to look for new ways of doing things. And John Kerry and John Edwards are doing exactly that." King cites Kerry's valiant service in Vietnam, his work on women's issues (aggressively prosecuting rapists) and his environmental work (bringing acid rain to the forefront) as proof that he really cares, that he wants to make the world better for everyday people.
She also firmly upholds the viability of Kerry's detailed plan to make health care affordable for every American and to cover every child under 18 (see www.johnkerry.com). Speaking about how the plan would be funded--by rolling back the tax cuts for the wealthy--King says, "I am one of the wealthy. I am happy to pay my fair share, a lot of people are. Maybe Ken Lay isn't. That is not my problem."
As evidenced in her feel-good songs, King is optimistic about human nature and loves bringing people together. "My neighbors are good people and I think we really do have the same values. We all want to make the community better. My neighbors are the kind of people that if someone's home burns down, they will throw a benefit together. If someone has two dimes in their pocket, they'll give one dime to the family. That's the kind of thing I want to see in the American community and that's the kind of thing that John Kerry and John Edwards stand for."
With her exceptionally warm nature, an unwavering conviction that her friend, John Kerry, has the brains and the experience to create positive change, and an arsenal of songs that melt hearts and win audiences everywhere, King may possess the recipe to make red turn blue--at least temporarily. After finishing up her "Living Room Tour," King will return to Idaho for another week of appearances. Come September, she will appear wherever the Kerry campaign needs her right up until November 2, when she will definitively return to Idaho. "I don't want to vote absentee. I want to physically cast my vote--with a pencil and a piece of paper--for John Kerry and John Edwards."
If you haven't yet seen Carole King, you can catch her on Monday, August 23. King will make a "Rock the Vote" appearance with local musicians Bill Coffey and Ned Evett from 6:30-10 p.m. at Lakeview Park Amphitheater in Nampa (Garrity Boulevard and 16th Avenue). The event is free with pie and ice cream available for $5 per person.