John Gorka

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John Gorka
John Gorka at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, 2004
John Gorka at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, 2004
Background information
Born (1958-07-27) July 27, 1958 (age 64)
Colonia, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation(s)Songwriter, musician
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitars, piano
Years active1980s–present
LabelsWindham Hill, High Street, Red House

John Gorka (born July 27, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter.[1] In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called him "the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement."[2]

Personal life[edit]

Gorka was raised in the Colonia section of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, where he attended Colonia High School.[3]

He studied philosophy and history at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and graduated from there in 1980.[4]

As of 2005, he was residing in the St. Croix Valley area near Saint Paul, Minnesota.[citation needed]


Gorka formed the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band with Doug Anderson and Russ Rentler, which would also include guitarist Richard Shindell. After graduating from Moravian, he began performing solo at Godfrey Daniels coffee house in South Bethlehem as the opening act for various musicians including Nanci Griffith, Bill Morrissey, Claudia Schmidt and Jack Hardy. In 1984, Gorka was one of six winners chosen from the finalists in the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Since then he has regularly toured Europe and North America.[5][6][7]

John Gorka, 2008

In 1987, Gorka recorded his first album, I Know. It was released by Red House—beginning a long association with that label. Although his next five albums were distributed by Windham Hill and High Street, he returned to Red House with 1998's After Yesterday and produced eight albums with them over the next twenty years—most recently True in Time (2018).[8][9]

John Gorka in The Hague, Netherlands
John Gorka at VPRO Studio, Hilversum

He has appeared with artists such as Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Michael Manring, Christine Lavin, Dave Van Ronk, Cliff Eberhardt, David Massengill, Frank Christian, Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, and Lucy Kaplansky. He joined with Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson to form the folk supergroup Red Horse in 2010, touring together and releasing a self-titled album on which they performed each other's compositions. Red Horse toured through July 2014.


Studio albums[edit]

Other releases[edit]

Promotional EPs

Remix albums

  • Before Beginning: The Unreleased I Know - Nashville, 1985 (Red House, 2016)[10] (early version of I Know)


Compilation albums

On various artists compilations


  1. ^ Henkle, Doug, "FolkLib Index"
  2. ^ Wing, Eliza, Rolling Stone, August 8, 1991, p. 17
  3. ^ Zane, J. Peder. "In Person; Telling Stories, Going Farther", The New York Times, July 9, 1995. Accessed August 7, 2019. "Speaking before that recent performance, Mr. Gorka, a trim man with untrimmed hair who grew up in Colonia, explained that "I'm From New Jersey" is not simply a joke.... This passion for folk and bluegrass music isolated him a bit from his friends at Colonia High School, but when he started performing at school and at parties, it provided him with a satisfying way to reach people."
  4. ^ "American Folk Singer and Alumnus John Gorka '80 to perform at Moravian College". Moravian College. October 9, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "John Gorka".
  6. ^ "John Gorka: Building A Bridge Of Folk Music".
  7. ^ Music as Refuge: the Life of John Gorka
  8. ^ "John Gorka Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  9. ^ "'New Folk' star John Gorka to bring singer-songwriter charm to slate of Michigan shows".
  10. ^ "John Gorka talks about 'Before Beginning'". Retrieved October 15, 2022.

External links[edit]