Massachusetts-based folk singer-songwriter Dan Pallotta is returning with a new single from his upcoming album, American Pictures, entitled “Keith Smerage.” The melancholic finger-picked tune details the horrific history of Harvard University’s secret court, which was established in the 1920s to purge its campus of homosexuals.
Thirty-two students who were suspected of being gay were questioned. Fourteen of them were ‘convicted’ and expelled from the institution for being gay. Three of them took their lives. The song’s titular individual, Keith Smerage, was one of them. Smerage is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Pallotta’s hometown of Topsfield, Massachusetts.
This contemplative and sorrowful narrative-based song is one that Pallotta finds hope in. Smerage’s life is not forgotten. His story is being heard and a new legacy is being built for him by Harvard’s current students, helping to develop a more just society.