Fiona Whelan Prine - Rancho La Puerta
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Fiona Whelan Prine

We are honored to have Fiona Whelan Prine as a special guest presenter for the Rancho La Puerta Folk Festival (June 15 – 22, 2024). She brings an expansive viewpoint to the American roots music community as President of Oh Boy Records, the country’s second-oldest independent record label still in operation. In that role, she oversees the multiple Grammy Award-winning recordings and publishing copyrights of her late husband, the legendary American songwriter John Prine. She also serves as Founder and President of the Hello in There Foundation. To honor John’s memory, Fiona created the foundation to identify, provide support, and collaborate with individuals and communities where people are marginalized, discriminated against or forgotten. She is interviewed by The Ranch’s Folk Festival’s co-host Carissa Stolting.


You are the founder of the Hello In There Foundation, whose mission is to honor the memory of John Prine and continue the love, kindness, and generosity he shared with the world. The foundation celebrates John’s birthday with its annual You Got Gold Festival in Nashville, TN. In your experience, what makes music effective in honoring or holding memory? 


As far back as I can remember, there was always a song that accompanied me through the twists and turns of the years. From early childhood and Jim Reeve’s’ ‘Roses are Red’ to teenage fascination with Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and so many others. Moving on through adulthood, there has always been an ongoing soundtrack to comfort, entertain, encourage, and guide.

Johns’s music has been part of that same soundtrack for many, many people. It seemed obvious and fitting that we would gather his community – our community- to remember him through his words and music.

You’ve worked in the music industry for many years, from Business Manager at the celebrated Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin (working with U2, Van Morrison, and many others) to now as President of Oh Boy Records, which had its 40th-anniversary celebration in 2021 and is the second-oldest independent label in operation. What drew you to working in music initially, and what continues to inspire you in this industry?

I, like many people, fell into the business through my love for music and meeting folks through going to concerts and clubs. Dublin was a small place then, and I heard about the position at Windmill Lane by word of mouth.

This business gets into your bloodstream! It is an honor and a privilege to work in the Arts and have creative opportunities. As time goes on, the world can seem like a dark and hopeless place, but the Arts, and music in particular, can be an offering of love and hope that crosses all the borders society has constructed.

We are thrilled to have you joining the festival this year as a guest presenter. For decades, Rancho La Puerta has become a space where people come to find restoration and healing, often during transitional moments of life. What are some of the self-care or healing practices you have found helpful in your own life?

Sleep is number one for me in self-care. Good hydration, not over-eating, breath work and time alone are the things that keep me in a state of wellness on a daily basis. I read and listen to music every day. At night, I put my phone as far away from the bed as possible so it’s not the first thing I reach for in the morning. 

You have done an incredible amount of philanthropic work, raising millions to give back to under-served, overlooked communities through your work with Hello In There, Thistle Farms, and more. What are your thoughts or observations on the interconnectivity between philanthropy and folk/roots music?

That’s a really interesting question! Folk and Roots music is important because it chronicles the human condition, both personally and at a societal level. This music that speaks to us individually – and is the work of my life – is part historical record and, maybe most importantly, creates real-time connections with diverse communities all over the world. These stories, told through music, get our attention, empathize with our predicaments, and give us hope that we are not alone.

Anything else you’d like to share about what you’re looking forward to at the Rancho La Puerta Folk Festival or anything else we’ve missed?

As long as I’ve worked in the music business and have been involved in philanthropy, I am always surprised and delighted to be invited to participate in events and community gatherings. I turn the corner to year 63 this year and am finally comfortable in owning the experiences and lessons that have informed my life’s work. I look forward to sharing those experiences and any wisdom I’ve gleaned along the way.

I will relish the opportunity to be with like-minded people, music lovers, curious searchers, and explorers of our common shared humanity. 

Learn more about The Ranch’s Folk Festival, June 15- 24, 2024.