When Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Patty Griffin takes the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center stage March 15 – just over a month before Pennsylvania’s presidential primary – fans will hear much more than a concert.
The folk singer has been touring since February, not just to promote her most recent album “Servant of Love,” but to raise awareness of an issue more important to her: voter turnout.
In conjunction with the League of Women Voters, this “Use Your Voice” tour – which also features folk singers Anaïs Mitchell and Sara Watkins (founding member of the progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek) – is all about encouraging women to vote.
“We’re just folk singers making a little ripple right now,” Griffin said.
The idea for the tour came just over a year ago when Griffin came upon a news story that said women make up the majority of the eligible voting population in the country, but don’t have a high voter turnout.
“Politicians running are not working on their behalf because women for some reason or another – not enough are coming out to vote,” she said. “That really floored me … As women, especially if we are the majority, we’ve got this right to vote. We have to take responsibility in shaping our society. We have to be more vocal.”
Griffin said she’s witnessed problems with low voter turnout in her own community. This past November, her home county in Austin, Texas reported an 8 percent voter turnout.
But beginning on a local level, Griffin said she believes that can change.
“We think this message needs to go to every single corner of the United States,” she said, including York.
York reported a low voter turnout in 2015, with only 71 of 1,026 registered voters casting ballots at Hannah Penn K-8 as of 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3. Jackson K-8 also had only 246 voters out of about 2,000 turn out with two hours left in the voting day.
“Everybody’s got to hear this,” Griffin said. “Until we’re at 90 percent or 95 percent eligible turnout, we’re not doing great with our democracy.”
That’s why she’s teamed up with the League of Women Voters, and two of her favorite female artists, Watkins and Mitchell, to both entertain and inform ahead of this election season.
The League of Women Voters will open the show at 7:30 p.m. with some information about the resources the nonpartisan organization offers to ensure that all eligible voters, including those from underrepresented communities, have the opportunity and information needed to vote.
Following the presentation, Griffin, Watkins and Mitchell will all take the stage to perform each other’s songs together as a united front.
While Griffin wouldn’t say what will be on the set list, the singers’ most recent works include Griffin’s “Servant of Love,” released in September 2015; Watkins’ solo album “Sun Midnight Sun,” released in 2012; and Mitchell’s “Xoa,” released in 2014.
“Basically, we are having fun flying by the seat of our pants,” Griffin said. “We all have a lot of material … Expect three women who know how to use their voices and spent their whole lives learning how to do that really well.”
If you go
What: Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anaïs Mitchell's "Use Your Voice" tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15
Where: Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York
Tickets: $36, $42, $48
More information: Visit www.mystrandcapitol.org.