Victoria Parks

We are saddened to learn that Victoria Parks left us on Friday, May 10, 2024. We will miss her provocative satirical political songs and her participation at Comfest and other events. Well-known in the city as a songwriter and folksinger, many people don’t know she was also a talented artist, poet, writer, holistic medicine practitioner, community activist, election integrity advocate, and one of the founders of the local WGRN radio station.  

Connie Everett, longtime Comfest organizer and once a close neighbor of hers, wrote: “She was always willing to lend her voice in song for the cause of social justice. Victoria was a mainstay of the festival. Oh, she was fun! And a great stage emcee. She sometimes played the festival stages, strumming her guitar and belting out ballads and sea shanties, protest songs, and pointedly funny political ditties. She was a driving force for the Pete Seeger tribute on the Bozo Stage – one of my favorite ComFest moments.”  

Victoria sang with a guitar since the age of fifteen. She hit the Cleveland folk scene in 1974. Her songs are unique, beautiful and funny. She drew her song material from simple emotion, life experience, or crazy news. You just never know what she’d conjure up under that wildly curly head of hair. It could be a beautiful ballad or just plain hilarious. 

Tim Chavez, WGRN community radio station manager and Free Press Board member, remembered her: “I met Victoria Parks through her music. She would perform various rallies and demonstrations. She was a mainstay at the Columbus Free Press as a journalist and investigator. She believed in the Ten Green Values and was bearish on the right to vote and stood up to privilege.” 

Victoria was invaluable in the aftermath of the stolen Ohio 2004 presidential election, dedicating herself to voter rights. She attended the post-election hearings and noted on her website that: “One man told a story of how he had been voting in the same precinct for years but found his name had been illegally purged from the rolls some time before election day ’04. I came home from that hearing and wrote 'My Vote Don’t Matter.' Brad Friedman of the Bradblog used the song as a theme for his Bradcast on KPFK radio." She also wrote the clever parody “Bye Bye Blackwell” during the 2006 election when Ken Blackwell lost his bid for Ohio governor.  

The Free Press honored Victoria with the Free Press Arts and Activism Award in 2009. Etched upon it is a quote of hers: "Great art is inherently subversive." She was also an honoree in the 2005 Great American Song Contest; a category winner in the 15th Annual Mid Atlantic Contest Category Winner (humorous); a 2002 Florida Folk Festival Song Contest performer; Napa Valley Folk Festival song contest winner. She has released three albums Sure Feels Like Home (1995), Wild English Rose (2003), and Duhmocracy (2007). Wild English Rose landed #35 in the 2003 Folk DJ top 200 folk albums of 2003. Duhmocracy was nominated “best political album” at the 2009 Just Plain Folks Awards, while her song Blame the Cows garnered a “best political song” nomination. 

Tim “got to know Victoria when I became part of the working crew of the community radio station 91.9 WGRN FM in Columbus. Being professionally schooled and trained in radio broadcasting, she organized and created the schedule for the station under a three month deadline to maintain the newly FCC license. She was a true professional and it is reflected in the program that we feature today. Syndicated with Pacifica Radio, Victoria produced 260 episodes of her [radio shows] Morning Song and 174 episodes of Folk Soup. All themed shows and wonderfully produced." 

Connie remembered, “Victoria had a keen interest in holistic and alternative medicine. She was a trained massage and reiki therapist and helped relieve some of my pains from time to time. And whenever her friends were sick, she was quick with the natural oils and aromatherapy." 

“She was a giver. She was spiritually inclined. She was here. She was one of us,” Connie wrote. Tim noted, “She left us on the first night of the Aurora Borealis. She planned it that way. Hail Victrola!”