Singer, songwriter, guitarist, folk singer, artist, amd humorist. All of these words describe John Winn, a multi-talented man with a background grounded in music, and a life-long love of skiing and mountains. Winn's musical career has spanned six decades, starting with formal voice training in college, stints as a tenor with a municipal opera company in St. Louis, and as a coffeehouse singer in the early days of folk music in New York City. Winn traveled with the Belafonte Singers, performed on stages with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, and Jose Feliciano, and performed at New York's Carnegie Hall with many of the early folk artists. Born in Canton, MO in 1934 and raised in Hannibal, Winn grew up in the heart of the depression in a rural farm setting, played basketball and enjoyed bird-hunting along the Mississippi River. He worked many jobs in his youth, including summers spent as a cave guide at the Mark Twain cave near Hannibal. A high school teacher identified his strong tenor voice and encouraged him, and he studied voice at Culver Stockton College in Canton, MO and performed with the municipal opera in St. Louis, MO. In the early 1950's, Winn's interest in skiing brought him to Summit County, Colorado, where he found work at Ski Tip Ranch near Arapahoe Basin. He cut wood, built fires, and was their principle dishwasher. In 1954, while serving in the US Army in Fort Carson, CO, he picked up a guitar and started a life-long love of the instrument. After the Army, Winn headed back to Ski Tip Ranch, where he learned to teach skiing at Arapahoe Basin, playing guitar and singing to guests at night by the huge stone fireplace in the lodge. He also began performing in coffeehouses and bars such as the Red Ram in Georgetown, CO, Mike's Pub in Boulder, the Exodus and Café Les Tarot in Denver. Musical friend and compatriot Judy Collins introduced John to her manager, Daniel Gordon, who was married to the folksinger Odetta. Dan and Odetta were impressed with John's singing and encouraged him to go to New York City where they booked him into Folk City. He received a positive reception that encouraged him to plunge into music as a full-time career. He moved to New York City in 1960, just as the folk music scene was emerging on Bleeker Street in the Lower West Village. He played old English folk tunes in New York City coffeehouses such as the Gaslight, Folk City, and Café Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York. His strong tenor voice was in demand as a soloist in several churches and Jewish temples in New York City, where he also performed in musical theatre productions. He toured the country as a featured vocalist with the Karlsrud Singers, and was on a national tour with the Belafonte Singers. In the early 1960s, Winn performed at many of the early "hootenany's" including appearances in Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York City. Winn was in New York when Bob Dylan arrived on the folk scene, playing in many of the same coffeehouses. He spent a lot of time talking with Dylan, even taking a memorable road trip with Bob to Ann Arbor, MI to perform in one of the early folk concert venues. A recording contract never materialized for Winn, and he missed the mountains. His love of skiing eventually pulled him north to the state of Maine, where the rural lifestyle better fit his background and personality. He went to Maine to play summer stock theatre and stayed in the state for 16 years to teach skiing and build a life around the mountains he loves. While in Maine, he joined Uncle Al's No Action Army, a band that performed country folk music. Winn wrote several of the songs that the band played, including Hello, How Are You? North Country Blues, and Apple Pickin' Time. He also spent two years in Telluride, Colorado as Ski School and Marketing Director, and was the MC at the inaugural Telluride Bluegrass Festival. One rainy day in March 1982, with the powder snow turning to spring slush, Winn headed back to Colorado. He taught skiing at Keystone, Colorado, and continued performing in Central City, Black Hawk, and Denver. He studied guitar with both Rene Heredia in Denver and Hector Garcia in Albuquerque, NM and continued to play guitar in restaurants and for private parties and weddings. In 1995, Winn moved to Grand Junction, CO, where the local coffeehouse music scene was getting stronger. Winn began writing music again, finding inspiration in the beauty of the mountains, canyons, and vistas of western Colorado. He has performed at local coffeehouses in Grand Junction, and in concerts at the outdoor amphitheater of the Western Colorado Botanic Gardens. Most recently he has been working with Jon James at Shedd Studios to record the lifetime of original music that he has composed. Five CD's are planned, and the first, Canyon Wind, was released on September 13, 2006 at the Western Colorado Botanic Gardens concert in Grand Junction.
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