John Wesley Harding (singer)

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John Wesley Harding
Wesley stace.jpg
Wesley Stace in Paris, c. 2007
Background information
Birth nameWesley Stace
Born(1965-10-22) 22 October 1965 (age 47)
Hastings, East Sussex, England United Kingdom
Genres

Singer-songwriter, Rock,

Pop, Folk
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, author
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar
Labels

Sire/Warner Bros. Records

Yep Roc Records
 
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John Wesley Harding
Wesley stace.jpg
Wesley Stace in Paris, c. 2007
Background information
Birth nameWesley Stace
Born(1965-10-22) 22 October 1965 (age 47)
Hastings, East Sussex, England United Kingdom
Genres

Singer-songwriter, Rock,

Pop, Folk
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, author
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar
Labels

Sire/Warner Bros. Records

Yep Roc Records

Wesley Stace (born 22 October 1965) is a folk/pop singer-songwriter and author who has used the stage name John Wesley Harding. Under his real name, he has written three novels. He is also a novelist, university teacher and the curator of Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders.

He was born in Hastings, East Sussex, England.

Name[edit source | edit]

His given name, Wesley, comes from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who preached one of his last sermons near the town where Harding was born.

Stace’s stage name was the same as the Bob Dylan 1967 album (and song) John Wesley Harding, for which Dylan misspelled the outlaw John Wesley Hardin's name, adding a final 'g'.

Biography[edit source | edit]

His education included the boarding school St. Andrews School (Pangbourne, Berkshire); Milbourne Lodge (Claygate, Surrey); The King's School Canterbury; and university at Jesus College, Cambridge. He left Cambridge with a First in English Literature, but left before completing his Ph.D. in Social and Political Science. Since 1991, Harding has lived in the United States, most recently in Philadelphia. His sister,[1] Melanie Stace, is a performing artist.

Career[edit source | edit]

Stace often plays solo, but has also done concerts with various backing bands, most recently The English UK. As John Wesley Harding, he has released 17 albums, including 2009's Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead which he recorded with The Minus 5. His subsequent album, "The Sound Of His Own Voice", featured members of that band as well as The Decemberists and was released in 2011. His work includes "I'm Wrong About Everything", which was included on the soundtrack for High Fidelity. He has also covered the Madonna song, "Like a Prayer".

Harding was chosen by Bruce Springsteen as his first opening act in 20 years for his solo shows at the Berkeley Community Theatre in 1995.[2]

In 2005, he published his first novel, Misfortune, under his real name, Wesley Stace. It was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Misfortune was also chosen by Amazon.com as one of the Ten Best Novels of 2005, and was one of the Washington Post's Books of the Year. Misfortune, translated as L'infortunée, became a bestseller in France,[citation needed] and has also been translated into many languages including Hebrew, Chinese, and Japanese. The movie rights to "Misfortune" were sold in 2008. His 2005 album Songs of Misfortune comprises songs written for, or appearing in, that book.

His second novel, By George, was published in August 2007; it was one of the New York Public Library's "Books To Remember" of 2007, and Booklist Editor's Choice for books of the year. A third, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, was published by Jonathan Cape in the UK in July 2010 and Picador in the USA in February 2011, and was one of the Wall Street Journal's Top Ten Books of the Year. His 4th novel, Wonderkid, will be published by Overlook Press in March 2014.

Stace has reviewed for the Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Other writings include chapbooks for some of his albums, and essays for various music publications from Creem to Raygun. His essay, "Listerine: The Life and Opinions of Laurence Sterne," published in Post Road #5, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

"John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders", his series of variety shows, began in Spring 2009 in New York City at (Le) Poisson Rouge, before moving to City Winery, and has included appearances by Rosanne Cash, Graham Parker, Josh Ritter, Rick Moody, Colson Whitehead, Jonathan Ames, A.C. Newman, Rhett Miller, Steven Page, Eugene Mirman, David Gates, John Roderick, Jon Auer, Tanya Donelly, Martha Plimpton, Todd Barry, Steve Almond, and Stephen Elliott. The spring 2010 series featured, among others, Sarah Vowell, Sondre Lerche, Buffalo Tom, Janeane Garofalo, Robbie Fulks, Paul Muldoon. Artists in the 2011 series included Andrew Bird, Tift Merritt, and David Wax Museum. In 2012, Harding launched a weekly NPR version of the "Cabinet of Wonders."[3] Shows continue into 2013 with appearances in NY and across the country.

Stace was artist-in-residence at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he curates the Words & Music Festival. On May 6, 2010, the Festival ended with "Jersey Rain: Robert Pinsky and Bruce Springsteen in conversation with John Wesley Harding" in the Dreyfuss Theater, which conversation was later published in the journal Radio Silence. The series also included a presentation by Harding and Paul Muldoon on their collaboration. In the Spring of 2013, the two writers taught a course at Princeton University entitled, How to Write a Song.

In Spring 2013 at Central Connecticut State University, the English Department offered a literature course dedicated to Stace's songs and novels ("The Allusive John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace," ENG 214).

In June 2013, it was announced that Harding would return to his given name with the September 2013 release of his next album, "Self-Titled".

Discography[edit source | edit]

Singles[edit source | edit]

YearTitleChart positionsAlbum
US Modern Rock
1990"The Devil in Me"17Here Comes the Groom
1991"The Person You Are"8The Name Above the Title
"The People's Drug"29

Contributions[edit source | edit]

Bibliography[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Joel Selvin (18 August 2007). "Review: Melanie Stace is well worth getting to know better". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  2. ^ Ouelette, Dan."Renegade Folk: John Wesley Harding Finds Inspiration of the Beaten Track." Acoustic Guitar.November 1997, p. 48.
  3. ^ [http://www.npr.org/series/153299281/cabinet-of-wonders

External links[edit source | edit]