"John Flynn is the real deal. His work follows in the footsteps of Woody
Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, and other social justice
troubadours as he speaks the truth and gives a voice to society's
disenfranchised. His work fills your heart and opens your eyes as he
continues to walk the walk of a true advocate for equality, justice, and
-- Deana McCloud, Executive Director, Woody Guthrie Center
John Flynn's songwriting carries a wide open heart -- they are both fierce
and tender. Think Cat Stevens ... with a bit more folk rock and edge.
--Mary Sue Twohy, SiriusXM
"John Flynn is a searcher, a seeker after justice, after truth telling,
after forgiveness, after mercy. That's the name of his latest album
"Mercy." He sings with a voice that bears witness to a life's journey toward
that place we all yearn for the place of inner peace. John has benefited
from the friendship and mentoring of Kris Kristofferson, another seeker, who
has given the devil a run for his money and come out smiling. With this
album John Flynn acknowledges Kris's influence and continues his own
journey, inviting us to join him in discovering the power of mercy, of
"sweet forgiveness" in our lives. Take him up on his invitation, listen to
the songs and discover it for yourself."
-- Jim Rooney
"Nothing makes me cling to hope more than a song from rabble rouser
do-gooder John Flynn." --Kathy O'Connell, WXPN
"The only reason John Flynn doesn't have half a dozen songs in Woody
Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax's book Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit
People is that when they started writing, John hadn't even been born yet.
But he's a worthy heir to the tradition and to the commitments Seeger,
Lomax and Guthrie represent. John can hit hard, but he does it with
humanity, heart and often humor. When he follows a powerful ballad about
the tough lives of prisoners with a children's song about "duck doo" on
your pickup truck, it's hard not to imagine Pete, Woody and Alan smiling and
-- Si Kahn
JOHN FLYNN BIO
John Flynn is an American singer-songwriter and activist known for his
powerful music and tireless efforts on behalf of the lost and the
lonely, the shackled and scarred. His career has embodied an authentic
troubadour odyssey that moved legendary folk DJ Gene Shay to call Flynn
"the most quintessential folk singer in my life", and Deana McCloud,
Executive Director of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma to
write, "John Flynn is the real deal. His work follows in the footsteps
of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, and other social
justice troubadours as he speaks the truth and gives a voice to
society's disenfranchised. His work fills your heart and opens your eyes
as he continues to walk the walk of a true advocate for equality,
justice, and peace."
Long-time friend and Flynn champion, Kris Kristofferson has called John
"an important artist whose work in prisons, rehabs, and half-way houses
is distilled into the truth and the beauty of heartfelt and heartwarming
slices of life". In 2007 Kris cited Flynn to TV Guide Magazine as one of
his favorite country artists, saying, "He's got a great heart and I like
the way he thinks".
In his youth, Flynn was seen as quiet and exceedingly serious. The
former altar boy was named president of the National Honor Society and
Scholar Athlete of the Year while receiving two congressional
nominations to the United States Naval Academy. John was making plans to
play lacrosse for Navy when he found out he would not be able to take
his guitar with him to Annapolis. The thought of leaving it behind, even
for a few months, caused him to admit to himself that he had other
John abruptly changed course and began writing songs in earnest. He put
himself through Temple University playing folk and country rock covers
in bar bands, slowly introducing his original songs into the mix. After
graduation John's plans to attend law school were abandoned when Billy
Swan's recording of John's song "Rainbows and Butterflies" went
top-forty on the country charts and John took a staff songwriting
position at Combine Music in Nashville.
It was Swan who first introduced John to Kris Kristofferson. John was
honored many years later when he found that Kris had selected the lyrics
to Flynn's song "Without You With Me" to recite at the funeral of Kris'
longtime friend and guitarist, Stephen Bruton.
The father of four did not tour while his kids were young, but as they
grew older John began to widen his performance circles. In 2005, Arlo
Guthrie invited John to join musical legends like Willie Nelson and
Ramblin' Jack Elliott on the historic "Train to New Orleans" tour
following Hurricane Katrina. It was on that trip that Ramblin' Jack
generously dubbed Flynn "the John Lennon of the plasma generation",
whatever that was supposed to mean!
Although a long time anti-war activist, Flynn's deep concern for, and
appreciation of, those who have served in the military afforded him
unique opportunities to share his music. Rejecting the "support the
troops by supporting the war" mentality, Flynn reasoned, "You can be
against house fires and still support firefighters". Flynn's powerful,
anthemic song, "Dover", about those who've made the ultimate sacrifice,
and "Semper Fi", about the terrible cost of PTSD, have won Flynn
numerous invitations to perform for men and women in uniform, as well as
their families across this country.
Over the years John's work for social justice and ardent opponent of the
death penalty has seen him perform in a series of MERCy Concerts
(Musicians Encouraging the Repeal of Capital punishment). Flynn also
currently serves on the Advisory Board for Camp Dreamcatcher, a
therapeutic summer camp for children whose lives have been impacted by
AIDS/HIV, where his annual concerts for the kids and holiday fundraisers
have become a tradition.
In 2005 Flynn began volunteering as lead inmate support group
facilitator at Delaware's maximum-security penitentiary, The Howard R.
Young Correctional Institution. Due to the success of this work, Flynn
eventually took on other prisons and in 2013 began running additional
groups for those who had been released. These groups provided much
needed community and transitional support for ex-offenders and have had
a powerful impact in the fight against recidivism in Northern Delaware.
In 2017, Flynn founded New Beginnings - Next Step, Inc., a 501 C 3
non-profit dedicated to helping incarcerated and returning citizens
successfully transition to freedom. He currently serves as the executive
director of this organization and that work has become the largest part
of John's multi activity work life.
Among the recognitions John has received for his work are the Phil Ochs
Award for Music and Social Activism for Political and Social Justice,
the Dominican's Shining Star Award, Rotary's Paul Harris Fellow Award,
and Pacem in Terris's Peacemaker Among Us Award. Additionally, The
American Library Association has recognized John for family and kids'
recordings; and in 2012 he was a Grammy honoree for his song "Two
Wolves' on the anti-bullying compilation, All About Bullies Big and
More recently, in 2019 the National Association of Criminal Justice
Lawyers Foundation honored John with the Champion of Justice
Humanitarian Award. Past Humanitarian Award winners include Stevie
Wonder, Mike Farrell, Janet Reno, Julian Bond and Sister Helen Prejean.
Over the years many people have said laudatory things about the totality
of John's work and mission but this quote from Si Kahn does as well as
any at trying to sum up a 40 plus year career comprising so many
seemingly disparate elements'and yet, they fit together perfectly.
"The only reason John Flynn doesn't have half a dozen songs in Woody
Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax's book Hard Hitting Songs for
Hard-Hit People is that when they started writing, John hadn't even been
born yet. But he's a worthy heir to the tradition and to the commitments
Seeger, Lomax and Guthrie represent. John can hit hard, but he does it
with humanity, heart and often humor. When he follows a powerful ballad
about the tough lives of prisoners with a children's song about 'duck doo' on your pickup truck, it's hard not to imagine Pete, Woody and Alan
smiling and singing along."
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