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Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

Overview
Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival
American folk music revival
The American folk music revival was a phenomenon in the United States that began during the 1940s and peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s. Its roots went earlier, and performers like Josh White, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Richard Dyer-Bennett, Oscar Brand, Jean Ritchie, John Jacob...

. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers
The Weavers
The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and selling millions of records at the height of their...

, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene
Goodnight, Irene
"Goodnight, Irene" or "Irene, Goodnight," is a 20th century American folk standard, written in 3/4 time, first recorded by American blues musician Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter in 1932....

", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of The Weavers were blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

ed during the McCarthy Era
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

. In the 1960s, he re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music
Protest song
A protest song is a song which is associated with a movement for social change and hence part of the broader category of topical songs . It may be folk, classical, or commercial in genre...

 in support of international disarmament
Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated....

, civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

, and environmental causes
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

.

As a song writer, he is best known as the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" is a folk song. The first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955, and published in Sing Out! magazine...

", "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)
If I Had a Hammer
"If I Had a Hammer " is a song written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. It was written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary.- Early...

", (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!
Turn! Turn! Turn! (song)
"Turn! Turn! Turn! ", often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!", is a song adapted entirely from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and put to music by Pete Seeger in 1959...

", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world.
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Quotations

This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.

Inscription on his banjo, inspired by the inscription on Woody Guthrie's guitar : "This machine kills fascists"

We'll walk hand in hand We'll walk hand in hand We'll walk hand in hand some day... The whole wide world around some day.

Lyrics added to "We Shall Overcome|We Shall Overcome" by Seeger in the late 1940s, whose musical arrangement and renditions helped popularize the song among civil-rights activists in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He also changed the primary lines from from "We Will Overcome" to "We Shall Overcome".

To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time for every purpose under heaven.

"Turn! Turn! Turn!|Turn! Turn! Turn!" (1954); a song which adapts a passage from the book of Ecclesiastes|Ecclesiastes to music, with a few additional lyrics.

A time to gain, a time to lose A time to rend, a time to sew A time of love, a time of hate A time of peace... I swear it's not too late.

"Turn! Turn! Turn!" (1954) File:Lorette13.JPG|144px|thumb|right|Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago? Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls have picked them everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn?

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?|Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (1955) File:Pete Seeger 1986.jpg|144px|thumb|right|A good song can only do good, and I am proud of the songs I have sung.

Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (1955) File:WhereRainbowRises.jpg|144px|thumb|right|And because I love you I'll give it one more try To show my rainbow race It's too soon to die.

A good song can only do good, and I am proud of the songs I have sung. I hope to be able to continue singing these songs for all who want to listen, Republicans, Democrats, and independents.

Statement to the court prior to his sentencing for contempt of Congress (1961); also quoted on NPR: Weekend Edition (2 July 2005)

If I've got a talent, it's for picking the right song at the right time for the right audience. And I can always seem to get people to sing with me.

"A Minstrel with a Mission", Life magazine, 1964.

Every time I read the paper those old feelings come on. We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on.

"Waist Deep in the Big Muddy|Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" (1967)
Encyclopedia
Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival
American folk music revival
The American folk music revival was a phenomenon in the United States that began during the 1940s and peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s. Its roots went earlier, and performers like Josh White, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Richard Dyer-Bennett, Oscar Brand, Jean Ritchie, John Jacob...

. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers
The Weavers
The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and selling millions of records at the height of their...

, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene
Goodnight, Irene
"Goodnight, Irene" or "Irene, Goodnight," is a 20th century American folk standard, written in 3/4 time, first recorded by American blues musician Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter in 1932....

", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of The Weavers were blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

ed during the McCarthy Era
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

. In the 1960s, he re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music
Protest song
A protest song is a song which is associated with a movement for social change and hence part of the broader category of topical songs . It may be folk, classical, or commercial in genre...

 in support of international disarmament
Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated....

, civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

, and environmental causes
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

.

As a song writer, he is best known as the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" is a folk song. The first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955, and published in Sing Out! magazine...

", "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)
If I Had a Hammer
"If I Had a Hammer " is a song written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. It was written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary.- Early...

", (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!
Turn! Turn! Turn! (song)
"Turn! Turn! Turn! ", often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!", is a song adapted entirely from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and put to music by Pete Seeger in 1959...

", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world. "Flowers" was a hit recording for The Kingston Trio
The Kingston Trio
The Kingston Trio is an American folk and pop music group that helped launch the folk revival of the late 1950s to late 1960s. The group started as a San Francisco Bay Area nightclub act with an original lineup of Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds...

 (1962), Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

, who recorded it in English, German and French (1962), and Johnny Rivers
Johnny Rivers
Johnny Rivers is an American rock and roll singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. His styles include folk songs, blues, and revivals of old-time rock 'n' roll songs and some original material...

 (1965). "If I Had a Hammer" was a hit for Peter, Paul & Mary (1962) and Trini Lopez
Trini Lopez
Trini Lopez is an American singer, guitarist and actor.-Career:Lopez was born in Dallas, Texas, on Ashland Street in the Little Mexico neighborhood. He began his entertainment career in Dallas playing at the Vegas Club, a nightclub owned by Jack Ruby...

 (1963), while The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

 popularized "Turn, Turn, Turn!" in the mid-1960s, as did Judy Collins
Judy Collins
Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records ; and for her social activism. She is an alumna of the University of Colorado.-Musical career:Collins was born and raised in Seattle, Washington...

 in 1964 and The Seekers
The Seekers
The Seekers are an Australian folk-influenced pop music group which were originally formed in 1962. They were the first Australian popular music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States...

. Seeger was one of the folksingers most responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome
We Shall Overcome
"We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became a key anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement . The title and structure of the song are derived from an early gospel song by African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley...

" (also recorded by Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

 and many other singer-activists) that became the acknowledged anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement, soon after folk singer and activist Guy Carawan
Guy Carawan
Guy Carawan is an American folk musician and musicologist. He serves as music director and song leader for the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee....

 introduced it at the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

 (SNCC) in 1960. In the PBS "American Masters
American Masters
American Masters is a PBS television show which produces biographies on the artists, actors and writers of the United States who have left a profound impact on the nation's popular culture. It is produced by WNET in New York City...

" episode Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Seeger states it was he who changed the lyric from the traditional "We will overcome" to the more inspirational "We shall overcome".

Family and personal life



Seeger was born in French Hospital, Midtown Manhattan
Midtown Manhattan
Midtown Manhattan, or simply Midtown, is an area of Manhattan, New York City home to world-famous commercial zones such as Rockefeller Center, Broadway, and Times Square...

, the youngest of three sons. He came from a distinguished, prosperous family, which he described as "enormously Christian, in the Puritan, Calvinist New England tradition." His father, Charles Louis Seeger Jr. was a prominent musicologist, composer, and music professor. His mother, Constance de Clyver Edson, was a violinist and teacher, raised in Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and trained at the Paris Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School
Juilliard School
The Juilliard School, located at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, United States, is a performing arts conservatory which was established in 1905...

.

Soon after their 1911 wedding, the couple had moved to Berkeley, California
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

, where Charles Seeger took up a position as professor of music. Facing opposition from his university colleagues, he became a pioneering ethnomusicologist, investigating both Native American and American folk music. In 1914, Charles Seeger, who had previously been apolitical, had a political awakening when he became aware of the lives of migrant workers in California. His subsequent left-wing activism, which included opposition to World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, led to deteriorating relations with the university, and in September 1918, he took a "sabbatical"; the entire family, including a pregnant Constance, moved back to the Seeger family home.

Charles and Constance Seeger divorced when Pete Seeger was seven. His stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger
Ruth Crawford Seeger
Ruth Crawford Seeger , born Ruth Porter Crawford, was a modernist composer and an American folk music specialist.-Life:...

, was one of the most significant female composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

s of the twentieth century. His eldest brother, Charles Seeger III, was a radio astronomer, and his next older brother, John Seeger, taught in the 1950s at the Dalton School in Manhattan and was the principal from 1960 to 1976 at Fieldston Lower School
Ethical Culture Fieldston School
The Ethical Culture Fieldston School, known as "Fieldston", is a private "independent" school in New York City and a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League. It has about 1600 students and a staff of 400 people , led by Dr. Damian J...

 in the Bronx
The Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is also known as Bronx County, the last of the 62 counties of New York State to be incorporated...

. His uncle, Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger was an American poet who fought and died in World War I serving in the French Foreign Legion. A statue to his memory and to...

, a noted poet, was killed during the First World War. His half-sister, Peggy Seeger
Peggy Seeger
Margaret "Peggy" Seeger is an American folksinger. She is also well known in Britain, where she lived for more than 30 years with her husband, singer and songwriter Ewan MacColl.- The first American period :...

, also a well-known folk performer, was married for many years to British folk singer Ewan MacColl
Ewan MacColl
Ewan MacColl was an English folk singer, songwriter, socialist, actor, poet, playwright, and record producer. He was married to theatre director Joan Littlewood, and later to American folksinger Peggy Seeger. He collaborated with Littlewood in the theatre and with Seeger in folk music...

. Half-brother Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger was an American folk musician and folklorist. He was a distinctive singer and an accomplished musician who played autoharp, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mouth harp, mandolin, dobro, jaw harp, and pan pipes. Seeger, a half-brother of Pete Seeger, produced more than 30 documentary...

 went on to form the New Lost City Ramblers
New Lost City Ramblers
The New Lost City Ramblers is a contemporary old-time string band that formed in New York City in 1958 during the Folk Revival. The founding members of the Ramblers, or NLCR, are Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley...

, one of whose members, John Cohen, was married to Pete's other half-sister, singer Penny Seeger, also a highly talented singer.

In 1943, Pete married Toshi-Aline Ōta, whom he credits with being the support that helped make the rest of his life possible. Pete and Toshi have three children: Daniel (an accomplished photographer and filmmaker), Mika
Mika Seeger
Mika Seeger is an American ceramic artist of Rhode Island. Although not primarily a musical artist, she did record a definitive version of Great Green Gobs of Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts...

 (Potter and muralist), and Tinya Seeger (Potter)—and grandchildren Tao
Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
Tao Rodríguez-Seeger is an American contemporary folk musician. He plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and sings in Spanish and in English. He is known as a founder of The Mammals and is the grandson of folk musician Pete Seeger....

 (musician), Cassie Seeger (Artist), Kitama Cahill-Jackson (filmmaker), Moraya, Penny, and Isabelle. Tao is a folk musician in his own right, singing and playing guitar, banjo and harmonica with the Mammals
The Mammals
The Mammals are a contemporary folk rock band based in the Hudson Valley, area of New York, in the United States.Current band members are Michael J. Merenda, Jr., Chris Merenda, Ruth Ungar, Jacob Silver and Tao Rodríguez-Seeger.- Band history :...

. Kitama Jackson is a documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

maker who was associate producer of the PBS documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.

Seeger lives in Beacon, New York. He remains very active politically and maintains an active lifestyle in the Hudson Valley
Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley comprises the valley of the Hudson River and its adjacent communities in New York State, United States, from northern Westchester County northward to the cities of Albany and Troy.-History:...

 Region of New York, especially in the nearby City of Beacon, New York
Beacon, New York
Beacon is a city located in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The 2010 census placed the city total population at 15,541. Beacon is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport,...

. He and Toshi purchased their land in 1949 and lived there first in a trailer, then in a log cabin they built themselves.

Early work


Pete Seeger attended the Avon Old Farms
Avon Old Farms
Avon Old Farms is a single-sex boarding school for boys located in Avon, Connecticut. It was founded by Theodate Pope Riddle, an RMS Lusitania survivor and a master architect. It opened in 1927 and closed for a period during World War II to serve as a convalescent hospital for blind veterans. The...

 boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, during which he was selected to attend Camp Rising Sun
Camp Rising Sun
Camp Rising Sun is an invitation-only, international, full-scholarship, leadership summer program for students aged 14–16. Operated by the Louis August Jonas Foundation , a non-profit organization, the program lasts for seven weeks...

, the Louis August Jonas Foundation's international summer scholarship program. Though Pete Seeger's parents were both professional musicians, they did not press him to play an instrument. On his own, Pete gravitated to the ukulele
Ukulele
The ukulele, ; from ; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings....

, becoming adept at entertaining his classmates with it, while laying the basis for his subsequent remarkable audience rapport. Pete heard the five-string banjo
Banjo
In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

 for the first time at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

 in 1936, while traveling with his father (then a director of Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

's Farm Resettlement program
Resettlement Administration
The Resettlement Administration was a U.S. federal agency that, between April 1935 and December 1936, relocated struggling urban and rural families to communities planned by the federal government....

). It changed his life forever. He spent much of the next four years trying to master the instrument.

Seeger enrolled at Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

 on a partial scholarship, but, as he became increasingly involved with politics and folk music, his grades suffered and he lost his scholarship. He dropped out of college in 1938. He dreamed of a career in journalism and also took courses in art. His first musical gig was leading students in folk singing at the Dalton School, where his aunt was principal. He polished his performance skills during summer stint of touring New York State with The Vagabond Puppeteers (Jerry Oberwager, 22; Mary Wallace, 22; and Harriet Holtzman, 23), a traveling puppet theater "inspired by rural education campaigns of post-revolutionary Mexico". One of their shows coincided with a strike by dairy farmers. The group reprised its act in October in New York City. An article in the October 2, 1939 Daily Worker reported on the Puppeteers' six-week tour this way:
During the entire trip the group never ate once in a restaurant. They slept out at night under the stars and cooked their own meals in the open, very often they were the guests of farmers. At rural affairs and union meetings, the farm women would bring "suppers" and would vie with each other to see who could feed the troupe most, and after the affair the farmers would have earnest discussions about who would have the honor of taking them home for the night.
"They fed us too well," the girls reported. "And we could live the entire winter just by taking advantage of all the offers to spend a week on the farm."
In the farmers' homes they talked about politics and the farmers’ problems, about anti-Semitism and Unionism, about war and peace and social security—"and always," the puppeteers report, "the farmers wanted to know what can be done to create a stronger unity between themselves and city workers. They felt the need of this more strongly than ever before, and the support of the CIO in their milk strike has given them a new understanding and a new respect for the power that lies in solidarity. One summer has convinced us that a minimum of organized effort on the part of city organizations—unions, consumers’ bodies, the American Labor Party and similar groups—can not only reach the farmers but weld them into a pretty solid front with city folks that will be one of the best guarantees for progress.
That fall Seeger took a job in Washington, D.C., assisting Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax was an American folklorist and ethnomusicologist. He was one of the great field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, recording thousands of songs in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain.In his later career, Lomax advanced his theories of...

, a friend of his father's, at the Archive of American Folk Song of the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

. Seeger's job was to help Lomax sift through commercial "race
African American music
African-American music is an umbrella term given to a range of musics and musical genres emerging from or influenced by the culture of African Americans, who have long constituted a large and significant ethnic minority of the population of the United States...

" and "hillbilly
Old-time music
Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music, with roots in the folk music of many countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland and countries in Africa. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dance, buck dance, and clogging. The genre also...

" music and select recordings that best represented American folk music, a project funded by the music division of the Pan American Union (later the Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

), of whose music division his father, Charles Seeger, was head (1938–53). Lomax also encouraged Seeger's folk singing vocation, and Seeger was soon appearing as a regular performer on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray
Nicholas Ray
Nicholas Ray was an American film director best known for the movie Rebel Without a Cause....

's weekly Columbia Broadcasting
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 show Back Where I Come From (1940–41) alongside of Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....

, Burl Ives
Burl Ives
Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives was an American actor, writer and folk music singer. As an actor, Ives's work included comedies, dramas, and voice work in theater, television, and motion pictures. Music critic John Rockwell said, "Ives's voice .....

, Leadbelly
Leadbelly
Huddie William Ledbetter was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced....

, and Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

 (whom he had first met at Will Geer
Will Geer
Will Geer was an American actor and social activist. His original name was William Aughe Ghere. He is remembered for his portrayal of Grandpa Zebulon Tyler Walton in the 1970s TV series, The Waltons....

's Grapes of Wrath benefit concert for migrant workers on March 3, 1940). Back Where I Come From was unique in having a racially integrated
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

 cast, which made news when it performed in March 1941 at a command performance at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 organized by Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

 called "An Evening of Songs for American Soldiers," before an audience that included the Secretaries of War, Treasury, and the Navy, among other notables. The show was a success but was not picked up by commercial sponsors for nationwide broadcasting because of its integrated cast. During the war
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Seeger also performed on nationwide radio broadcasts by Norman Corwin
Norman Corwin
Norman Lewis Corwin was an American writer, screenwriter, producer, essayist and teacher of journalism and writing...

.


Group recordings


As a self-described "split tenor" (between an alto and a tenor), Pete Seeger was a founding member of two highly influential folk groups: The Almanac Singers
Almanac Singers
The Almanac Singers were a group of folk musicians who, as their name indicates, specialized in topical songs, especially songs connected with the labor movement...

 and The Weavers
The Weavers
The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and selling millions of records at the height of their...

. The Almanac Singers
Almanac Singers
The Almanac Singers were a group of folk musicians who, as their name indicates, specialized in topical songs, especially songs connected with the labor movement...

, which Seeger co-founded in 1941 with Millard Lampell
Millard Lampell
Millard Lampell was an American movie and television screenwriter who first became publicly known as a member of the Almanac Singers in the 1940s....

 and Arkansas singer and activist Lee Hays, was a topical group, designed to function as a singing newspaper promoting the industrial unionization movement, racial and religious inclusion, and other progressive causes. Its personnel included, at various times: Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

, Bess Lomax Hawes
Bess Lomax Hawes
Bess Lomax Hawes was an American folk musician, folklorist, and researcher. She was the daughter of John Avery Lomax and Bess Bauman-Brown Lomax, and the sister of Alan Lomax.-Early life and education:...

, Baldwin "Butch" Hawes, Sis Cunningham
Sis Cunningham
Agnes Cunningham was an American musician, best known for her involvement as a performer and publicist of folk music and protest songs...

, Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....

, and Sam Gary
Sam Gary
Sam Gary was an African-American blues, spiritual and folk singer, who to the wider public is known for his long-lasting musical co-operation with Josh White....

. As a controversial Almanac singer, the 21-year-old Seeger performed under the stage name "Pete Bowers" to avoid compromising his father's government career.

In 1950, the Almanacs were reconstituted as The Weavers
The Weavers
The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and selling millions of records at the height of their...

, named after the title of a 1892 play by Gerhart Hauptmann
Gerhart Hauptmann
Gerhart Hauptmann was a German dramatist and novelist who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1912.-Life and work:...

 about a workers' strike (which contained the lines, "We'll stand it no more, come what may!"). Besides Pete Seeger (performing under his own name), members of the Weavers included charter Almanac member Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert
Ronnie Gilbert
Ronnie Gilbert is an American folk-singer. She is one of the original members of the Weavers with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman.-Career:...

 and Fred Hellerman
Fred Hellerman
Fred Hellerman, born in Brooklyn, New York and educated at Brooklyn College, is an American folk singer, guitarist, producer and song writer, primarily known as one of the members of The Weavers, together with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Ronnie Gilbert...

 (later, Frank Hamilton
Frank Hamilton (musician)
Frank Hamilton is an American folk musician and co-founder of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Illinois. As a performer, he has recorded for Folkways Records and, as a member of the folk group The Weavers, for Vanguard Records, as well as for Philips and several other labels and...

, Erik Darling and Bernie Krause
Bernie Krause
Bernard L. Krause is an American musician, soundscape recordist and bio-acoustician, who coined the term biophony and helped define the structure of soundscape ecology. Krause holds a Ph.D. in bioacoustics from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati.-Biography:Bernie Krause was born in 1938...

 serially took the place of Seeger). In the atmosphere of the 1950s red scare, the Weavers' repertoire had to be less overtly topical than that of the Almanacs had been, and its progressive message was couched in indirect language—arguably rendering it even more powerful. The Weavers even on occasion performed in tuxedos (unlike the Almanacs, who had dressed informally) and their managers refused to let them perform at political venues. Because of this, the somewhat hokey string orchestra and chorus arrangements on their hit records with Decca Records
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

, and, no doubt also because of their considerable, if temporary, financial success, the Weavers incurred criticism from some progressives for supposedly compromising their political integrity. It was a tricky dilemma, but Seeger and the other Weavers felt that the imperative of getting their music and their message out to the widest possible audience amply justified these measures.

The Weavers' string of major hits began with "On top of Old Smokey" and an arrangement of Leadbelly
Leadbelly
Huddie William Ledbetter was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced....

's signature waltz, "Goodnight, Irene," which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950 and was covered by many other pop singers. On the flip side of "Irene" was the Israeli song "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena
Tzena, Tzena, Tzena
"Tzena, Tzena, Tzena" is a song, originally written in Hebrew by Issachar Miron , a Polish emigrant to what was then The British Mandate of Palestine but is now Israel, and Jehiel Hagges .-History and development:...

." Other Weaver hits included, "So Long It's Been Good to Know You" (by Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

), "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Kisses Sweeter than Wine (song)
"Kisses Sweeter than Wine" is a popular love song written by The Weavers in 1950, and a hit for Jimmie Rodgers in 1957 and Frankie Vaughan in 1958.-History:...

" (by Hays, Seeger, and Lead Belly), the South African Zulu song, "Wimoweh" (about "the lion," warrior chief Shaka Zulu), to name a few.

The Weavers's performing career was abruptly derailed in 1953 at the peak of their popularity when blacklisting prompted radio stations to refuse to play their records and all their bookings were canceled. They briefly returned to the stage, however, at a sold-out reunion at Carnegie Hall in 1955 and in a subsequent reunion tour
Reunion Tour
Reunion Tour is the fourth studio album by The Weakerthans, released on September 25, 2007 in Canada and the U.S. The album was released on both compact disc and vinyl record....

, which produced a hit version of Merle Travis
Merle Travis
Merle Robert Travis was an American country and western singer, songwriter, and musician born in Rosewood, Kentucky. His lyrics often discussed the life and exploitation of coal miners. Among his many well-known songs are "Sixteen Tons", "Re-Enlistment Blues" and "Dark as a Dungeon"...

's "Sixteen Tons
Sixteen Tons
"Sixteen Tons" is a song about the life of a coal miner, first recorded in 1946 by American country singer Merle Travis and released on his box set album Folk Songs of the Hills the following year...

" as well as LPs of their concert performances. "Kumbaya
Kumbaya
"Kumbaya" or "Kumbayah" — is an African-American spiritual song from the 1930s. It enjoyed newfound popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s and became a standard campfire song in Scouting and nature-oriented organizations...

," a Gullah
Gullah
The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands....

 black spiritual dating from slavery days, was also introduced to wide audiences by Pete Seeger and the Weavers (in 1959), becoming a staple of Boy and Girl Scout campfires.

In the late fifties, the Kingston Trio was formed in direct imitation of (and homage to) the Weavers, covering much of the latter's repertoire, though with a more buttoned-down, uncontroversial and mainstream collegiate persona. The Kingston Trio produced another phenomenal succession of Billboard chart hits, and, in its turn spawned a legion of imitators, laying the groundwork for the 1960s commercial folk revival.

In the documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007), Seeger states that he resigned from the Weavers when the three other band members agreed to perform a jingle
Jingle
A jingle is a short tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses. The jingle contains one or more hooks and lyrics that explicitly promote the product being advertised, usually through the use of one or more advertising slogans. Ad buyers use jingles in radio and television...

 for a cigarette commercial
Tobacco advertising
Tobacco advertising is the advertising of tobacco products or use by the tobacco industry through a variety of media including sponsorship, particularly of sporting events. It is now one of the most highly regulated forms of marketing...

.

Banjo and 12-string guitar


In 1948, Seeger wrote the first version of his now-classic How to Play the Five-String Banjo, a book that many banjo
Banjo
In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

 players credit with starting them off on the instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

. He went on to invent the Long Neck or Seeger banjo. This instrument is three frets longer than a typical banjo,is slightly longer than a bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

 at 25 frets, and is tuned a minor third lower than the normal 5-string banjo. Hitherto strictly limited to the Appalachian region, the five-string banjo became known nationwide as the American folk instrument par excellence, largely thanks to Seeger's championing of and improvements to it. According to an unnamed musician quoted in David King Dunaway's biography, "by nesting a resonant chord between two precise notes, a melody note and a chiming note on the fifth string" Pete Seeger "gentrified" the more percussive traditional Appalachian "frailing" style, "with its vigorous hammering of the forearm and its percussive rapping of the fingernail on the banjo head." Though what Dunaway's informant describes is the age-old droned frailing style, the implication is that Seeger made this more acceptable to mass audiences by omitting some of its percussive complexities, while presumably still preserving the characteristic driving rhythmic quality associated with the style.

From the late 1950s on, Seeger also accompanied himself on the 12-string guitar, an instrument of Mexican origin that had been associated with Lead Belly who had styled himself "the King of the 12-String Guitar". Seeger's distinctive custom-made guitars had a triangular soundhole. He combined the long scale length (approximately 28") and capo-to-key techniques that he favored on the banjo with a variant of drop-D (DADGBE) tuning
Drop D tuning
Drop D tuning, also known as DADGBE, is an alternate, or scordatura, form of guitar tuning — specifically, a dropped tuning — in which the lowest string is tuned down from the usual E of standard tuning by one whole step to D.- Uses of drop D tuning :In drop D the three bass strings...

, tuned two whole steps down with very heavy strings, which he played with thumb and finger picks.

Introduction of the "Steel Pan" to U.S. Audiences


In 1956, then "Peter" Seeger (see film credits) and his wife, Toshi, traveled to Port of Spain, Trinidad, to seek out information on the steel pan, steel drum or "Ping-Pong" as it was sometimes called. The two searched out a local panyard and proceeded to film the construction, tuning and playing of the then new, national instrument of Trinidad-Tobago.

Obama Inaugural Celebration


On January 18, 2009, Seeger joined Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

, grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
Tao Rodríguez-Seeger is an American contemporary folk musician. He plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and sings in Spanish and in English. He is known as a founder of The Mammals and is the grandson of folk musician Pete Seeger....

, and the crowd in singing the Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

 song "This Land Is Your Land
This Land Is Your Land
"This Land Is Your Land" is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on...

" in the finale of Barack Obama's Inaugural concert in Washington, D.C. The performance was noteworthy for the inclusion of two verses not often included in the song, one about a "private property" sign the narrator cheerfully ignores, and the other making a passing reference to a Depression-era
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 relief office.

90th Birthday Celebration


On May 3, 2009, at The Clearwater Concert
The Clearwater Concert
The Clearwater Concert was a concert that took place on May 3, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The concert, a celebration of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday, raised funds for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Seeger's environmental advocacy orginazation.The concert was billed as The...

, dozens of musicians gathered in New York at Madison Square Garden to celebrate Seeger's 90th birthday (which was later televised on PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 during the summer), ranging from Dave Matthews
Dave Matthews
David John "Dave" Matthews is a South African–born American musician and occasional actor, best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band...

, John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp, previously known by the stage names Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American rock singer-songwriter, musician, painter and occasional actor known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock that eschews synthesizers and other artificial sounds...

, Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg
Stephen William Bragg , better known as Billy Bragg, is an English alternative rock musician and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, and his lyrics mostly deal with political or romantic themes...

, Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

, Tom Morello
Tom Morello
Thomas Baptiste "Tom" Morello is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist best known for his tenure with the bands Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, his acoustic solo act The Nightwatchman, and his newest group, Street Sweeper Social Club...

, Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist, poet, and songwriter. She has released more than 20 albums, and is widely considered a feminist icon.-Biography:...

 and Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

 to Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

, Richie Havens
Richie Havens
Richard P. "Richie" Havens is an African American folk singer and guitarist. He is best known for his intense, rhythmic guitar style , soulful covers of pop and folk songs, and his opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.-Career:Born in Brooklyn, Havens was the eldest of nine children...

, Tom Paxton
Tom Paxton
Thomas Richard Paxton is an American folk singer and singer-songwriter who has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years...

, Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Ramblin' Jack Elliott is an American folk singer and performer.-Life and career:Elliot Charles Adnopoz was born in Brooklyn, New York to Jewish parents in 1931. Elliott grew up inspired by the rodeos at Madison Square Garden, and wanted to be a cowboy...

 and Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Davy Guthrie is an American folk singer. Like his father, Woody Guthrie, Arlo often sings songs of protest against social injustice...

. Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez
Silvio Rodríguez
Silvio Rodríguez Domínguez is a Cuban musician, and a leader of the nueva trova movement.He is considered Cuba's best known folk singer and known for his highly eloquent and symbolic lyrics. Many of his songs have become classics in Latin American music, such as Ojalá, Playa Girón, Unicornio and...

 was also invited to appear but his visa was not approved in time by the US government. Consistent with Seeger's long-time advocacy for environmental concerns, the proceeds from the event benefited the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. is an organization based in Beacon, New York that seeks to protect the Hudson River and surrounding wetlands and waterways through advocacy and public education...

, a non-profit organization created to defend and restore the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

. Seeger's 90th Birthday was also celebrated at The College of Staten Island on May 4.

Other recent appearances


On March 16, 2007, Pete Seeger, his sister Peggy
Peggy Seeger
Margaret "Peggy" Seeger is an American folksinger. She is also well known in Britain, where she lived for more than 30 years with her husband, singer and songwriter Ewan MacColl.- The first American period :...

, his brothers Mike
Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger was an American folk musician and folklorist. He was a distinctive singer and an accomplished musician who played autoharp, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mouth harp, mandolin, dobro, jaw harp, and pan pipes. Seeger, a half-brother of Pete Seeger, produced more than 30 documentary...

 and John, his wife Toshi, and other family members spoke and performed at a symposium and concert sponsored by the American Folklife Center
American Folklife Center
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC was created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife" . The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American folk music...

 in honor of the Seeger family, held at the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 in Washington, D.C., where Pete Seeger had been employed by the Archive of American Folk Song 67 years earlier.

On September 29, 2008, the 89-year-old singer-activist, once banned from commercial TV, made a rare national TV appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

, singing "Take It From Dr. King". In September 2008, Appleseed Recordings
Appleseed Recordings
Founded in 1997 by activist attorney Jim Musselman, Appleseed Recordings is an idealistic, internationally distributed and independent music label devoted to releasing socially conscious contemporary and traditional folk and roots music by a wide array of established and lesser-known musicians...

 released At 89, Seeger's first studio album in 12 years.

On September 19, Pete Seeger made his first appearance at the 52nd Monterey Jazz Festival, particularly notable because the Festival does not normally feature folk artists.

On April 18, 2009, Pete Seeger performed in front of a small group of Earth Day celebrants at Teachers College in New York City. Among the songs he performed were "This Land is Your Land", "Take it From Dr. King", and "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain".

A number of Pete Seeger celebrations are being organized in Australia including a revival of the musical play about his life One Word ... WE!, a DVD of his 1963 concert in Melbourne Town Hall, and concerts in folk clubs and folk festivals. One Word ... WE! was performed at the Tom Mann Theatre in Surry Hills, Sydney, on 12, 13 and 14 June 2009. It was written by Maurie Mulheron, who is also musical director and a performer. Frank Barnes directed.

In 2010, still active at the age of 91, Seeger co-wrote and performed a song "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You" with Lorre Wyatt, commenting on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed unabated for three months in 2010, and continues to leak fresh oil. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry...

.

On October 21, 2011, at age 92, Pete Seeger was part of a solidarity march with Occupy Wall Street to Columbus Circle in New York City. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/pete-seeger-leads-protesters-on-foot-and-in-song/ The march began with Seeger and fellow musicians exiting Symphony Space (95th and Broadway), where they had performed as part of a benefit for Seeger's Clearwater organization. Thousands of people crowded Pete Seeger by the time they reached Columbus Circle. Pete Seeger performed with his grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, David Amram, and other celebrated musicians. The event, promoted under the name #OccupyTheCircle, was LiveStreamed, and dubbed by some as "The Pete Seeger March". http://www.livestream.com/occupywallstnyc/video?clipId=pla_fd66aee4-aeb5-484d-b024-a115be577628

1930s and 1940s


In 1936, at the age of 17, Pete Seeger joined the Young Communist League
Young Communist League, USA
The Young Communist League USA is the fraternal youth organization of the Communist Party USA. Although the name of the group has changed a number of times over the years, it dates its lineage back to 1920, shortly after the establishment of the first communist parties in America.-Early years:The...

 (YCL), then at the height of its popularity and influence. In 1942 he became a member of the Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 (CPUSA) itself. He eventually "drifted away" (his words) from the Party in the late 1940s and 1950s.

In the spring of 1941, the twenty-one-year-old Seeger performed as a member of the Almanac Singers
Almanac Singers
The Almanac Singers were a group of folk musicians who, as their name indicates, specialized in topical songs, especially songs connected with the labor movement...

 along with Millard Lampell, Cisco Houston, Woody Guthrie, Butch and Bess Lomax Hawes
Bess Lomax Hawes
Bess Lomax Hawes was an American folk musician, folklorist, and researcher. She was the daughter of John Avery Lomax and Bess Bauman-Brown Lomax, and the sister of Alan Lomax.-Early life and education:...

, and Lee Hays. Seeger and the Almanacs cut several albums of 78s on Keynote and other labels, Songs for John Doe
Songs for John Doe
Songs for John Doe was the 1941 debut album and first released product of the Almanac Singers, an influential early folk music group.The album was released in May 1941, at a time when World War II was raging but the United States remained neutral. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were still at...

(recorded in late February or March and released in May 1941), the Talking Union, and an album each of sea chanteys and pioneer songs. Written by Millard Lampell, Songs for John Doe
Songs for John Doe
Songs for John Doe was the 1941 debut album and first released product of the Almanac Singers, an influential early folk music group.The album was released in May 1941, at a time when World War II was raging but the United States remained neutral. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were still at...

was performed by Lampell, Seeger, and Hays, joined by Josh White and Sam Gary. It contained lines such as, "It wouldn't be much thrill to die for Du Pont in Brazil," that were sharply critical of Roosevelt's unprecedented peacetime draft (enacted in September 1940). This anti-war/anti-draft tone reflected the Communist Party line after the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

, which maintained the war was "phony" and a mere pretext for big American corporations to get Hitler to attack Soviet Russia. Seeger has said he believed this line of argument at the time—as did many fellow members of the Young Communist League (YCL). Though nominally members of the Popular Front
Popular front
A popular front is a broad coalition of different political groupings, often made up of leftists and centrists. Being very broad, they can sometimes include centrist and liberal forces as well as socialist and communist groups...

, which was allied with Roosevelt and more moderate liberals, the YCL's members still smarted from Roosevelt and Churchill's arms embargo to Loyalist Spain (which Roosevelt later called a mistake) and the alliance frayed in the confusing welter of events.

A June 16, 1941, review in Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine, which under its owner, Henry Luce
Henry Luce
Henry Robinson Luce was an influential American publisher. He launched and closely supervised a stable of magazines that transformed journalism and the reading habits of upscale Americans...

, had become very interventionist, denounced the Almanacs' John Doe, accusing it of scrupulously echoing what it called "the mendacious Moscow tune" that "Franklin Roosevelt is leading an unwilling people into a J. P. Morgan war." Eleanor Roosevelt, a fan of folk music, reportedly found the album "in bad taste," though President Roosevelt, when the album was shown to him, merely observed, correctly as it turned out, that few people would ever hear it. More alarmist was the reaction of eminent German-born Harvard Professor of Government, Carl Joachim Friedrich
Carl Joachim Friedrich
Carl Joachim Friedrich was a German-American professor and political theorist....

, an adviser on domestic propaganda to the US military. In a review in the June 1941 Atlantic Monthly, entitled "The Poison in Our System," he pronounced Songs for John Doe "...strictly subversive and illegal," "...whether Communist or Nazi financed," and "a matter for the attorney general," observing further that "mere" legal "suppression" would not be sufficient to counteract this type of populist poison, the poison being folk music, and the ease with which it could be spread.

At that point, the U.S. had not yet entered the war but was energetically re-arming. African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

s were barred from working in defense plants, a situation that greatly angered both African Americans and white progressives. Black union leaders A. Philip Randolph
A. Philip Randolph
Asa Philip Randolph was a leader in the African American civil-rights movement and the American labor movement. He organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly Negro labor union. In the early civil-rights movement, Randolph led the March on Washington...

, Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights.In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation , Rustin practiced nonviolence...

, and A. J. Muste
A. J. Muste
The Reverend Abraham Johannes "A.J." Muste was a Dutch-born American clergyman and political activist. Muste is best remembered for his work in the labor movement, pacifist movement, and the US civil rights movement.-Early years:...

 began planning a huge march on Washington to protest racial discrimination in war industries and to urge desegregation of the armed forces. The march, which many regard as the first manifestation of the Civil Rights Movement, was canceled after President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802
Executive Order 8802
Executive Order 8802 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry...

 (The Fair Employment Act) of June 25, 1941, barring discrimination in hiring by companies holding federal contracts for defense work. This Presidential act defused black anger considerably, although the US army still refused to desegregate, declining to participate in what it called "social engineering
Social engineering (political science)
Social engineering is a discipline in political science that refers to efforts to influence popular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by governments or private groups. In the political arena, the counterpart of social engineering is political engineering.For various reasons,...

."

Roosevelt's order came three days after Hitler broke the non-aggression pact and invaded the Soviet Union. The Communist Party now immediately directed its members to get behind the draft, and it also forbade participation in strikes for the duration of the war (angering some leftists). Copies of Songs for John Doe were removed from sale, and the remaining inventory destroyed, though a few copies may exist in the hands of private collectors. The Almanac Singers' Talking Union album, on the other hand, was reissued as an LP by Folkways
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

 (FH 5285A) in 1955 and is still available. The following year the Almanacs issued Dear Mr. President
Dear Mr. President (Almanac Singers album)
Dear Mr. President is a 1942 album by the Almanac Singers: Agnes Cunningham, Baldwin Hawes, Woody Guthrie, Millard Lampell, Lee Hays and Pete Seeger. After the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, in February 1942 the Almanacs went into the studio to record a set of songs supporting the American war...

, an album in support of Roosevelt and the war effort. The title song, "Dear Mr. President," was a solo by Pete Seeger, and its lines expressed his life-long credo:


Now, Mr. President, / We haven't always agreed in the past, I know, / But that ain't at all important now. / What is important is what we got to do, / We got to lick Mr. Hitler, and until we do, / Other things can wait.//


Now, as I think of our great land . . . / I know it ain't perfect, but it will be someday, / Just give us a little time. // This is the reason that I want to fight, / Not 'cause everything's perfect, or everything's right. / No, it's just the opposite: I'm fightin' because / I want a better America, and better laws, / And better homes, and jobs, and schools, / And no more Jim Crow, and no more rules like / "You can't ride on this train 'cause you're a Negro," / "You can't live here 'cause you're a Jew,"/ "You can't work here 'cause you're a union man."//


So, Mr. President, / We got this one big job to do / That's lick Mr. Hitler and when we're through, / Let no one else ever take his place / To trample down the human race. / So what I want is you to give me a gun / So we can hurry up and get the job done.


Seeger's critics, however, have continued to bring up the Almanacs' repudiated Songs for John Doe. In 1942, a year after the John Doe album's brief appearance (and disappearance), the FBI decided that the now-pro-war Almanacs were still endangering the war effort by subverting recruitment. According to the New York World Telegram (Feb. 14, 1942), Carl Friedrich's 1941 article "The Poison in Our System" was printed up as a pamphlet and distributed by the Council for Democracy (an organization that Friedrich and Henry Luce
Henry Luce
Henry Robinson Luce was an influential American publisher. He launched and closely supervised a stable of magazines that transformed journalism and the reading habits of upscale Americans...

's right hand man, C. D. Jackson, Vice President of Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine, had founded "...to combat all the nazi, fascist, communist, pacifist..." antiwar groups in the United States). and was shown to the Almanac's employers in order to keep them off the air. Coincidentally, defamatory reviews and gossip items appeared in New York newspapers whenever they performed in public, and ultimately the Almanacs had to disband.

Seeger served in the US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 in the Pacific
Pacific Ocean theater of World War II
The Pacific Ocean theatre was one of four major naval theatres of war of World War II, which pitted the forces of Japan against those of the United States, the British Commonwealth, the Netherlands and France....

. He was trained as an airplane mechanic, but was reassigned to entertain the American troops with music. Later, when people asked him what he did in the war, he always answered "I strummed my banjo." After returning from service, Seeger and others established People's Songs, conceived as a nationwide organization with branches on both coasts that was designed to "Create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American People" With Pete Seeger as its director, People's Songs worked for the 1948 presidential campaign of Roosevelt's former Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President, Henry A. Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
Henry Agard Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States , the Secretary of Agriculture , and the Secretary of Commerce . In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.-Early life:Henry A...

, who ran as a third party candidate on the Progressive Party
Progressive Party (United States, 1948)
The United States Progressive Party of 1948 was a left-wing political party that ran former Vice President Henry A. Wallace of Iowa for president and U.S. Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho for vice president in 1948.-Foundation:...

 ticket. Despite having attracted enormous crowds nationwide, however, Wallace only won in New York City, and, in the red-baiting frenzy that followed, he was excoriated (as Roosevelt had not been) for accepting the help in his campaign of Communists and fellow travelers such as Seeger and singer Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
Paul Leroy Robeson was an American concert singer , recording artist, actor, athlete, scholar who was an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in the first half of the twentieth century...

.

Spanish Civil War songs


Seeger had been a fervent supporter of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. In 1943, with Tom Glazer
Tom Glazer
Thomas Zachariah "Tom" Glazer was an American folk singer and songwriter known primarily as a composer of ballads, including: "Because All Men Are Brothers", recorded by The Weavers and Peter, Paul and Mary, "Talking Inflation Blues", recorded by Bob Dylan, and "A Dollar Ain't A Dollar Anymore"...

 and Bess and Baldwin Hawes, he recorded an album of 78s called Songs of the Lincoln Battalion
Songs Of The Lincoln Battalion
Songs of the Lincoln Battalion is a 1944 Asch album by three former members of the Almanac Singers: Baldwin 'Butch' Hawes, Bess Lomax Hawes and Pete Seeger, along with Tom Glazer.-Track listing:...

on Moe Asch's Stinson label. This included such songs as "There's a Valley in Spain called Jarama," and "Viva la Quinta Brigada
Ay Carmela
The lyrics to this Republican song, which is also known as El Paso del Ebro and Viva la XV Brigada, date from the Spanish Civil War. The melody, however, is a folk tune of far greater antiquity, dating back to the early 19th century. For comparative purposes, the links are: , , and -Lyrics:...

." In 1960, this collection was re-issued by Moe Asch as one side of a Folkways LP called Songs of the Lincoln and International Brigades. On the other side was a reissue of the legendary Six Songs for Democracy (originally recorded in Barcelona in 1938 while bombs were falling), performed by Ernst Busch
Ernst Busch (actor)
Ernst Busch was a German singer and actor.Busch first rose to prominence as an interpreter of political songs, particularly those of Kurt Tucholsky, in the Berlin Kabarett scene of the 1920s...

 and a chorus of members of the Thälmann Battalion
Thälmann Battalion
The Thälmann Battalion was a battalion of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. It was named after the imprisoned German communist leader Ernst Thälmann and included approximately 1,500 people, mainly Germans, Austrians, Swiss and Scandinavians. The battalion fought in the defence...

, made up of refugees from Nazi Germany. The songs were: "Moorsoldaten" ("Peat Bog Soldiers"
Peat Bog Soldiers (song)
Peat Bog Soldiers is one of Europe's best-known protest songs. It exists in countless European languages and became a Republican anthem during the Spanish Civil War. It was a symbol of resistance during the Second World War and is popular with the Peace movement today...

, composed by political prisoners of German concentration camps), "Die Thaelmann-Kolonne," "Hans Beimler," "Das Lied Von Der Einheitsfront" ("Song of The United Front" by Hanns Eisler
Hanns Eisler
Hanns Eisler was an Austrian composer.-Family background:Eisler was born in Leipzig where his Jewish father, Rudolf Eisler, was a professor of philosophy...

 and Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

), "Der Internationalen Brigaden" ("Song Of The International Brigades"), and "Los cuatro generales" ("The Four Generals," known in English as "The Four Insurgent Generals").

1950s and early 1960s


In the 1950s and, indeed, consistently throughout his life, Seeger continued his support of civil and labor rights, racial equality, international understanding, and anti-militarism (all of which had characterized the Wallace campaign) and he continued to believe that songs could help people achieve these goals. With the ever-growing revelations of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's atrocities and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, however, he became increasingly disillusioned with Soviet Communism. In his PBS biography, Seeger said he "drifted away" from the CPUSA beginning in 1949 but remained friends with some who did not leave it, though he argued with them about it.

On August 18, 1955, Seeger was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

 (HUAC). Alone among the many witnesses after the 1950 conviction and imprisonment of the Hollywood Ten for contempt of court, Seeger refused to plead the Fifth Amendment
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

 (which asserted that his testimony might be self incriminating) and instead (as the Hollywood Ten had done) refused to name personal and political associations on the grounds that this would violate his First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 rights: "I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this." Seeger's refusal to testify led to a March 26, 1957 indictment for contempt of Congress
Contempt of Congress
Contempt of Congress is the act of obstructing the work of the United States Congress or one of its committees. Historically the bribery of a senator or representative was considered contempt of Congress...

; for some years, he had to keep the federal government apprised of where he was going any time he left the Southern District of New York. He was convicted in a jury trial of contempt of court in March 1961, and sentenced to 10 years in jail (to be served simultaneously), but in May 1962 an appeals court ruled the indictment to be flawed and overturned his conviction.

In 1960, the San Diego school board told him that he could not play a scheduled concert at a high school unless he signed an oath pledging that the concert would not be used to promote a communist agenda or an overthrow of the government. Seeger refused, and the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 obtained an injunction
Injunction
An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that requires a party to do or refrain from doing certain acts. A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions...

 against the school district, allowing the concert to go on as scheduled. In February 2009, the San Diego School District officially extended an apology to Seeger for the actions of their predecessors.

Vietnam War era


A longstanding opponent of the arms race and of the Vietnam War, Seeger satirically
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 attacked then-President Lyndon Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 with his 1966 recording, on the album Dangerous Songs!?
Dangerous Songs!?
Dangerous Songs!? is a 1966 album by Pete Seeger and was released on the Columbia Records label.-Track listing:# "Medley: Robin The Bobbin/ Mary, Mary Quite Contrary/ Little Jack Horner"# Die Gedanken sind frei 1:52# Jackaro 3:53...

, of Len Chandler
Len Chandler
Len Hunt Chandler, Jr. , better known as Len Chandler, is a folk musician from Akron, Ohio.-Biography:He showed an early interest in music and began playing piano at age 8. Studying classical music in his early teens, he learned to play the oboe so he could join the high school band, and during...

's children's song, "Beans in My Ears
Beans in My Ears
Beans in My Ears is a song created and sung by protest singer, Len Chandler. It became a hit single when covered by The Serendipity Singers, reaching #30 in June, 1964. Doctors protested that many children were actually putting beans in their ears and so it was banned in some places such as Boston...

"
. Beyond Chandler's lyrics, Seeger said that "Mrs. Jay's little son Alby" had "beans in his ears," which, as the lyrics imply, ensures that a person does not hear what is said to them. To those opposed to continuing the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 the phrase implied that "Alby Jay" was a loose pronunciation of Johnson's nickname "LBJ," and sarcastically suggested "that must explain why he doesn't respond to the protests against his war policies."

Seeger attracted wider attention starting in 1967 with his song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
"Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" is a song written by Pete Seeger in 1967 and made famous because of its censorship from a popular television program of that era.-Story:...

", about a captain—referred to in the lyrics as "the big fool"—who drowned while leading a platoon on maneuvers in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 during World War II. In the face of arguments with the management of CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 about whether the song's political weight was in keeping with the usually light-hearted entertainment of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the final lines were "Every time I read the paper/those old feelings come on/We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on." The lyrics could be interpreted as an allegory of Johnson as the "big fool" and the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 as the foreseeable danger. Although the performance was cut from the September 1967 show, after wide publicity it was broadcast when Seeger appeared again on the Smothers' Brothers show in the following January.

Inspired by Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

, whose guitar was labeled "This machine kills fascists",photo Seeger's banjo was emblazoned with the motto "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender."photo

In the documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 The Power of Song, Seeger mentions that he and his family visited North Vietnam in 1972.

Environmentalism


Seeger is involved in the environmental organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. is an organization based in Beacon, New York that seeks to protect the Hudson River and surrounding wetlands and waterways through advocacy and public education...

, which he co-founded in 1966. This organization has worked since then to highlight pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 in the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 and worked to clean it. As part of that effort, the sloop
Sloop
A sloop is a sail boat with a fore-and-aft rig and a single mast farther forward than the mast of a cutter....

 Clearwater was launched in 1969 with its inaugural sail down from Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 to South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, and thence to the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

. Amongst the inaugural crew was Don McLean
Don McLean
Donald "Don" McLean is an American singer-songwriter. He is most famous for the 1971 album American Pie, containing the renowned songs "American Pie" and "Vincent".-Musical roots:...

, who co-edited the book Songs and Sketches of the First Clearwater Crew, with sketches by Thomas B. Allen
Thomas B. Allen
Thomas B. Allen was an American painter and illustrator known for a moody and expressionist style that pushed the boundaries of commercial art in the 1950s and 60s...

 for which Seeger wrote the foreword. Seeger and McLean sang "Shenandoah" on the 1974 Clearwater album. The sloop regularly sails the river with volunteer and professional crew members, primarily conducting environmental education programs for school groups. The Great Hudson River Revival (aka Clearwater Festival) is an annual two-day music festival held on the banks of the Hudson at Croton Point Park. This festival grew out of early fundraising concerts arranged by Seeger and friends to raise money to pay for Clearwater's construction.
Seeger wrote and performed "That Lonesome Valley" about the then-polluted Hudson River in 1969, and his band members also wrote and performed songs commemorating the Clearwater.

Seeger was inspired to clean the Hudson because he believed the river is a beautiful part of nature, and that if it were taken care of, it could be a place to bring people together. The Hudson was filled with oil pollution, sewage, and toxic chemicals that were killing off any life in the Hudson. Pete Seeger had a goal to change this, and took action to accomplish that goal.

The 106-foot long sailboat, Clearwater, was built to conduct science-based environmental education aboard the sailing ship. Not only has this project allowed for the clean-up of the river, but also for many people to experience a first-hand look into water chemistry, and the river's ecosystem. Clearwater has education programs with many colleges and institutions, including SUNY New Paltz, and Pace University. The sail ship has become widely recognized for its key role in the environmental movement. Every summer, the Clearwater Festival brings Hudson Valley residents together to enjoy music, their cultural heritage, and support a good cause.

http://www.clearwater.org/about/

Solo career and the folk song revival


To earn money during the blacklist period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Seeger had gigs as a music teacher in schools and summer camps and traveled the college campus circuit. He also recorded as many as five albums a year for Moe Asch's Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

 label. As the nuclear disarmament movement picked up steam in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Seeger's anti-war songs, such as, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" is a folk song. The first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955, and published in Sing Out! magazine...

" (co-written with Joe Hickerson
Joe Hickerson
Joe Hickerson is a noted folk singer and songleader. For 35 years he was Librarian and Director of the Archive of Folk Song at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress...

), "Turn, Turn, Turn
Turn! Turn! Turn! (song)
"Turn! Turn! Turn! ", often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!", is a song adapted entirely from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and put to music by Pete Seeger in 1959...

", adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes, and "The Bells of Rhymney
The Bells of Rhymney
"The Bells of Rhymney" is a song first recorded by folk singer Pete Seeger, using words written by Welsh poet Idris Davies. The lyrics to the song were drawn from part of Davies' poetic work Gwalia Deserta, which was first published in 1938...

" by the Welsh poet Idris Davies
Idris Davies
Idris Davies was a Welsh poet. He was born in Rhymney, near Caerphilly in South Wales, the Welsh-speaking son of colliery chief winderman Evan Davies and his wife Elizabeth Ann. Davies became a poet, originally writing in Welsh, but later writing exclusively in English...

 (1957), gained wide currency. Seeger also was closely associated with the 1960s Civil Rights movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

 and in 1963 helped organize a landmark Carnegie Hall Concert, featuring the youthful Freedom Singers, as a benefit for the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. This event and Martin Luther King's March on Washington in August of that year, in which Seeger and other folk singers participated, brought the Civil Rights anthem "We Shall Overcome
We Shall Overcome
"We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became a key anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement . The title and structure of the song are derived from an early gospel song by African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley...

" to wide audiences. A version of this song, submitted by Zilphia Horton of Highlander, had been published in Seeger's People's Songs Bulletin as early as in 1947.

By this time Seeger was a senior figure in the 1960s folk revival centered in Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, , , , .in New York often simply called "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families...

, as a longtime columnist in Sing Out!
Sing Out!
Sing Out! is a quarterly journal of folk music and folk songs that has been published since May 1950.-Background:Sing Out! is the primary publication of the tax exempt, not-for-profit, educational corporation of the same name...

, the successor to the People's Songs Bulletin, and as a founder of the topical Broadside
Broadside Magazine
Broadside Magazine was a small mimeographed publication founded in 1962 by Agnes "Sis" Cunningham and her husband, Gordon Friesen. Hugely influential in the folk-revival, it was often controversial. Issues of what is folk music, what is folk rock, and who is folk were roundly discussed and debated...

 magazine. To describe the new crop of politically committed folk singers, he coined the phrase "Woody's children", alluding to his associate and traveling companion, Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

, who by this time had become a legendary figure. This urban folk revival movement, a continuation of the activist tradition of the thirties and forties and of People's Songs, used adaptations of traditional tunes and lyrics to effect social change, a practice that goes back to the Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

 or Wobblies' Little Red Song Book, compiled by Swedish-born union organizer Joe Hill
Joe Hill
Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle , and also known as Joseph Hillström was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World...

 (1879–1915). (The Little Red Song Book had been a favorite of Woody Guthrie's, who was known to carry it around.)

Pete Seeger made two tours of Australia, the first in 1963. At the time of this tour, his single "Little Boxes
Little Boxes
"Little Boxes" is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963.The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes...

" (written by Malvina Reynolds
Malvina Reynolds
Malvina Reynolds was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for her song-writing, particularly the songs "Little Boxes" and "Morningtown Ride".-Early life:...

) was number one in the nation's Top 40s. In 1993 the Australian singer/playwright Maurie Mulheron assembled a musical biography of Seeger's, and friends', work in a stage production One Word ... WE!. It enjoyed a long and sold-out season at the New Theatre in the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown
Newtown, New South Wales
Newtown, a suburb of Sydney's inner west is located approximately four kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, straddling the local government areas of the City of Sydney and Marrickville Council in the state of New South Wales, Australia....

. It was reprised in 2000 and 2009, and the company has also taken the show on tour to folk festivals at Maleny and Woodford in Queensland, and Port Fairy in Victoria.

The long television blacklist of Seeger began to end in the mid-1960s when he hosted a regionally broadcast, educational folk-music television show, Rainbow Quest
Rainbow Quest
Rainbow Quest was a U.S. television series devoted to folk music and hosted by Pete Seeger. It was videotaped in black-and-white and featured musicians playing in traditional American music genres such as traditional folk music, old-time music, bluegrass and blues...

. Among his guests were Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

, June Carter, Reverend Gary Davis
Reverend Gary Davis
Reverend Gary Davis, also Blind Gary Davis, was an American blues and gospel singer and guitarist, who was also proficient on the banjo and harmonica...

, Mississippi John Hurt
Mississippi John Hurt
John Smith Hurt, better known as Mississippi John Hurt was an American country blues singer and guitarist.Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, Hurt taught himself how to play the guitar around age nine...

, Doc Watson
Doc Watson
Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson is an American guitar player, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music. He has won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson's flatpicking skills and knowledge of traditional American music are highly regarded...

, The Stanley Brothers
The Stanley Brothers
The Stanley Brothers were an American bluegrass duo made up of brothers Carter and Ralph Stanley.-Biography:Carter and Ralph Stanley hailed originally from Dickenson County, Virginia. The family soon moved to McClure, Virginia where their parents worked a small farm in the Clinch Mountains...

, Elizabeth Cotten
Elizabeth Cotten
Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten was an American blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter.A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed her own original style. Her approach involved using a right-handed guitar , not re-strung for left-handed playing, essentially, holding a right-handed...

, Patrick Sky
Patrick Sky
Patrick Sky is a musician, singer and songwriter of Irish and Native American ancestry...

, Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie, OC is a Canadian Cree singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire includes...

, Tom Paxton
Tom Paxton
Thomas Richard Paxton is an American folk singer and singer-songwriter who has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years...

, Judy Collins
Judy Collins
Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records ; and for her social activism. She is an alumna of the University of Colorado.-Musical career:Collins was born and raised in Seattle, Washington...

, Donovan
Donovan
Donovan Donovan Donovan (born Donovan Philips Leitch (born 10 May 1946) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist. Emerging from the British folk scene, he developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music...

, Richard Fariña
Richard Fariña
Richard George Fariña was an American writer and folksinger.-Early years and education:Richard Fariña was born in Brooklyn, New York, of Cuban and Irish descent. He grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn Technical High School...

 and Mimi Fariña
Mimi Fariña
Mimi Baez Fariña was a singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez .- Early years:Fariña's father, a physicist affiliated with Stanford University and MIT, moved his family...

, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Mamou Cajun Band, Bernice Johnson Reagon
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Bernice Johnson Reagon is a singer, composer, scholar, and social activist, who founded the a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973.-Early life and education:...

, The Beers Family, Roscoe Holcomb
Roscoe Holcomb
Roscoe Holcomb, was an American singer, banjo player, and guitarist from Daisy, Kentucky. A prominent figure in Appalachian folk music, Holcomb was the inspiration for the term "high, lonesome sound," coined by folklorist and friend John Cohen...

, Malvina Reynolds
Malvina Reynolds
Malvina Reynolds was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for her song-writing, particularly the songs "Little Boxes" and "Morningtown Ride".-Early life:...

, and Shawn Phillips
Shawn Phillips
Shawn Phillips is a folk-rock musician, primarily influential in the 1960s and 1970s.Phillips has recorded twenty albums and worked with musicians including Donovan, Paul Buckmaster, J. Peter Robinson, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bernie Taupin, and many others...

. Thirty-nine hour-long programs were recorded at WNJU
WNJU
WNJU, channel 47, is the flagship station of the Spanish-language Telemundo television network, licensed to Linden, New Jersey and serving the Tri-State area television market. WNJU is owned by NBCUniversal, and is one-half of a duopoly with NBC network flagship WNBC-TV...

's Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

 studios in 1965 and 1966, produced by Seeger and his wife Toshi, with Sholom Rubinstein. The Smothers Brothers
Smothers Brothers
The Smothers Brothers are Thomas and Richard , American singers, musicians, comedians and folk heroes. The brothers' trademark act was performing folk songs , which usually led to arguments between the siblings...

 ended Seeger's national blacklisting by broadcasting him singing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
"Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" is a song written by Pete Seeger in 1967 and made famous because of its censorship from a popular television program of that era.-Story:...

" on their CBS variety show on February 25, 1968, after his similar performance in September 1967 was censored by CBS.
An early booster of Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, Seeger, who was on the board of directors of the Newport Folk Festival
Newport Folk Festival
The Newport Folk Festival is an American annual folk-oriented music festival in Newport, Rhode Island, which began in 1959 as a counterpart to the previously established Newport Jazz Festival...

, became upset over the extremely loud and distorted electric sound that Dylan, instigated by his manager Albert Grossman
Albert Grossman
Albert Bernard Grossman was an American entrepreneur and manager in the American folk music scene and rock and roll. He was most famous as the manager of Bob Dylan between 1962 and 1970.-Biography:...

, also a Folk Festival board member, brought into the 1965 Festival during his performance of "Maggie's Farm
Maggie's Farm
"Maggie's Farm" is a song written by Bob Dylan, recorded on January 15, 1965, and released on the album Bringing It All Back Home on March 22 of that year...

". Tensions between Grossman and the other board members were running very high (at one point reportedly there was a scuffle and blows were briefly exchanged between Grossman and board member Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax was an American folklorist and ethnomusicologist. He was one of the great field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, recording thousands of songs in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain.In his later career, Lomax advanced his theories of...

). There are several versions of what happened during Dylan's performance and some claimed that Pete Seeger tried to disconnect the equipment. Seeger has been portrayed by Dylan's publicists as a folk "purist" who was one of the main opponents to Dylan's "going electric", but when asked in 2001 about how he recalled his "objections" to the electric style, he said:
I couldn't understand the words. I wanted to hear the words. It was a great song, "Maggie's Farm
Maggie's Farm
"Maggie's Farm" is a song written by Bob Dylan, recorded on January 15, 1965, and released on the album Bringing It All Back Home on March 22 of that year...

," and the sound was distorted. I ran over to the guy at the controls and shouted, "Fix the sound so you can hear the words." He hollered back, "This is the way they want it." I said "Damn it, if I had an axe, I'd cut the cable right now." But I was at fault. I was the MC, and I could have said to the part of the crowd that booed Bob, "you didn't boo Howlin' Wolf
Howlin' Wolf
Chester Arthur Burnett , known as Howlin' Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player....

 yesterday. He was electric!" Though I still prefer to hear Dylan acoustic, some of his electric songs are absolutely great. Electric music is the vernacular of the second half of the twentieth century, to use my father's old term.


In November 1976 Seeger wrote and recorded the anti-death penalty song "Delbert Tibbs" about then death row inmate Delbert Tibbs
Delbert Tibbs
Delbert Tibbs is an American man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and rape in 1974 and sentenced to death, and was later exonerated. He later became a writer and anti-death penalty activist.-Early life and trial:...

, who was later exonerated. Seeger wrote the music and selected the words from poems written by Tibbs. http://www.peteseeger.net/songwriter_magazine.htm

Repudiation of Stalin


In 1982 Seeger performed at a benefit concert for Poland's Solidarity resistance movement
August 31, 1982 demonstrations in Poland
August 31, 1982 demonstrations in Poland refers to anti-government street demonstrations organized by underground Solidarity to commemorate the second anniversary of the Gdańsk Agreement. The bloodiest protest occurred in southwestern Poland, in the town of Lubin, on August 31, 1982...

. His biographer David Dunaway considers this the first public manifestation of Seeger's decades-long personal dislike of communism in its Soviet form. In the late 1980s Seeger also expressed disapproval of violent revolutions, remarking to an interviewer that he was really in favor of incremental change and that "the most lasting revolutions are those that take place over a period of time." In his autobiography Where Have All the Flowers Gone (1993 and 1997 reissued in 2009), Seeger wrote, "Should I apologize for all this? I think so." He went on to put his thinking in context:

How could Hitler have been stopped? Litvinov
Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Maximovich Litvinov was a Russian revolutionary and prominent Soviet diplomat.- Early life and first exile :...

, the Soviet delegate to the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 in '36, proposed a worldwide quarantine but got no takers. For more on those times check out pacifist Dave Dellinger's book, From Yale to Jail.... At any rate, today I'll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was merely a "hard driver" and not a "supremely cruel misleader." I guess anyone who calls himself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Muslims by Crusaders
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

. White people in the U.S.A ought to apologize for stealing land from Native Americans
Indian Removal
Indian removal was a nineteenth century policy of the government of the United States to relocate Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to lands west of the river...

 and enslaving blacks. Europeans could apologize for worldwide conquests, Mongolians for Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. And supporters of Roosevelt could apologize for his support of Somoza, of Southern White Democrats
Dixiecrat
The States' Rights Democratic Party was a short-lived segregationist political party in the United States in 1948...

, of Franco Spain, for putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps
Japanese American internment
Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on...

. Who should my granddaughter Moraya apologize to? She's part African, part European, part Chinese, part Japanese, part Native American. Let's look ahead.


In a 1995 interview, however, he insisted that "I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it."
In recent years, as the aging Seeger began to garner awards and recognition for his life-long activism, he also found himself attacked once again for his opinions and associations of the 1930s and 1940s. In 2006, David Boaz
David Boaz
David Boaz is the executive vice president of the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank. He played a key role in the Institute's development and the American libertarian movement....

Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

 and NPR
NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

 commentator and president of the libertarian
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 Cato Institute
Cato Institute
The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, who remains president and CEO, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries, Inc., the largest privately held...

—wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, entitled "Stalin's Songbird" in which he excoriated The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

and The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

for lauding Seeger. He characterized Seeger as "someone with a longtime habit of following the party line" who had only "eventually" parted ways with the CPUSA. In support of this view, he quoted lines from the Almanac Singers
Almanac Singers
The Almanac Singers were a group of folk musicians who, as their name indicates, specialized in topical songs, especially songs connected with the labor movement...

' May 1941 Songs for John Doe, contrasting them darkly with lines supporting the war from Dear Mr. President, issued in 1942, after the USA and the USSR had entered the war.

In 2007, in response to criticism from a former banjo student—historian Ron Radosh
Ronald Radosh
Ronald Radosh is an American writer, professor, historian, former Marxist, and neoconservative. He is known for his work on the Cold War espionage case of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and his advocacy of the state of Israel....

, who was once a Trotskyite and now writes for the conservative National Review
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

—Seeger wrote a song condemning Stalin, "Big Joe Blues": "I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe. / He ruled with an iron hand. /He put an end to the dreams / Of so many in every land. / He had a chance to make / A brand new start for the human race. / Instead he set it back / Right in the same nasty place. / I got the Big Joe Blues. / Keep your mouth shut or you will die fast. / I got the Big Joe Blues. / Do this job, no questions asked. / I got the Big Joe Blues." The song was accompanied by a letter to Radosh, in which Seeger stated, "I think you’re right, I should have asked to see the gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

s when I was in U.S.S.R [in 1965]."

Selected discography

Release Date Album Title Record Label
2009 American Favorite Ballads, The Complete Collection Vol.1-5 Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

2008 At 89
At 89
At 89 is an album by Pete Seeger, released on September 30, 2008 through Appleseed Records. In 2008, the album earned Seeger the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.-Track listing:# "Nameless Banjo Riff" – 0:39# "False from True" – 2:49...

Appleseed Recordings
Appleseed Recordings
Founded in 1997 by activist attorney Jim Musselman, Appleseed Recordings is an idealistic, internationally distributed and independent music label devoted to releasing socially conscious contemporary and traditional folk and roots music by a wide array of established and lesser-known musicians...

2007 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5 Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

2006 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 4 Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

2004 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 3 Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

2003 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 2 Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

2002 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1 Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

2000 American Folk, Game and Activity Songs Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1998 Headlines and Footnotes: A Collection of Topical Songs Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1998 If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope and Struggle Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1998 Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes (Little and Big) Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1996 Pete Living Music Records
1993 Darling Corey/Goofing-Off Suite Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1992 American Industrial Ballads (Reissue of 1956 album) Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1991 Abiyoyo and Other Story Songs for Children Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1990 Folk Songs for Young People Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1990 American Folk Songs for Children Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1989 Traditional Christmas Carols Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways...

1980 God Bless the Grass Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1979 Circles & Seasons Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

1974 Banks of Marble and Other Songs Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1968 Wimoweh and Other Songs of Freedom and Protest Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1967 "Waist Deep In The Big Muddy And Other Love Songs" Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

1966 Dangerous Songs!?
Dangerous Songs!?
Dangerous Songs!? is a 1966 album by Pete Seeger and was released on the Columbia Records label.-Track listing:# "Medley: Robin The Bobbin/ Mary, Mary Quite Contrary/ Little Jack Horner"# Die Gedanken sind frei 1:52# Jackaro 3:53...

Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

1966 God Bless The Grass
God Bless The Grass
God Bless The Grass is a 1966 album by Pete Seeger and was released on Columbia Records as CL 2432 and CS 9232 .-Track listing:# The Power And The Glory 2:28# Pretty Saro 3:03...

Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

1964 Songs of Struggle and Protest, 1930-50 Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1964 Broadsides - Songs and Ballads Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1962 12-String Guitar as Played by Lead Belly Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1961 "Story Songs" Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

1960 At The Village Gate Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1960 Champlain Valley Songs Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1959 American Play Parties Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1958 Gazette, Vol. 1 Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1957 American Ballads Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1956 With Voices Together We Sing Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1956 Love Songs for Friends and Foes Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1955 "The Folksinger's Guitar Guide (Instruction) Folkways Records
1955 Bantu Choral Folk Songs Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1954 How to Play a 5-String Banjo (instruction) Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...

1954 The Pete Seeger Sampler Folkways Records
Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987, and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.-History:...


Tribute albums


In 1998 Appleseed Records issued a double-CD tribute album: Where Have All the Flowers Gone: the Songs of Pete Seeger, which included readings by Studs Terkel
Studs Terkel
Louis "Studs" Terkel was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for The Good War, and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.-Early...

 and songs by Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg
Stephen William Bragg , better known as Billy Bragg, is an English alternative rock musician and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, and his lyrics mostly deal with political or romantic themes...

, Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 17 million albums in the United States alone....

, Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy is an English folk musician known for both singing and playing fiddle. She is the daughter of English folk musicians singer/guitarist Martin Carthy and singer Norma Waterson.-Life and career:...

, Judy Collins
Judy Collins
Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records ; and for her social activism. She is an alumna of the University of Colorado.-Musical career:Collins was born and raised in Seattle, Washington...

, Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC is a Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. His most recent album was released in March 2011. He has written songs in styles ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock to rock and roll.-Biography:...

, Donovan
Donovan
Donovan Donovan Donovan (born Donovan Philips Leitch (born 10 May 1946) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist. Emerging from the British folk scene, he developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music...

, Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist, poet, and songwriter. She has released more than 20 albums, and is widely considered a feminist icon.-Biography:...

, Dick Gaughan
Dick Gaughan
Richard Peter Gaughan usually known as Dick Gaughan is a Scottish musician, singer, and songwriter, particularly of folk and social protest songs.-Early years:...

, Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith, is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter from Austin, Texas.-Biography:...

, Richie Havens
Richie Havens
Richard P. "Richie" Havens is an African American folk singer and guitarist. He is best known for his intense, rhythmic guitar style , soulful covers of pop and folk songs, and his opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.-Career:Born in Brooklyn, Havens was the eldest of nine children...

, Indigo Girls
Indigo Girls
The Indigo Girls are an American folk rock music duo, consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. They met in elementary school and began performing together as high school students in Decatur, Georgia, part of the Atlanta metropolitan area...

, Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

, Holly Near
Holly Near
Holly Near is an American singer-songwriter, actress, teacher, and activist for social change.-Early years:...

, Odetta
Odetta
Odetta Holmes, known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a human rights activist, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement". Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals...

, Tom Paxton
Tom Paxton
Thomas Richard Paxton is an American folk singer and singer-songwriter who has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years...

, Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Lynn Raitt is an American blues singer-songwriter and a renowned slide guitar player. During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of acclaimed roots-influenced albums which incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country, but she is perhaps best known for her more commercially...

, Martin Simpson
Martin Simpson
Martin Simpson is an English folk singer, guitarist and songwriter. His music reflects a wide variety of influences and styles, rooted in the British Isles, America and beyond.-Biography:...

, and Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

, among others.

In 2001, Appleseed release "If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 2." In 2003, it issued the double-CD Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Volume 3, the final set in its trilogy of releases celebrating Seeger's music.

In April 2006 Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

 released a collection of folk songs associated with Seeger's repertoire, titled, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
-Personnel:* Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, B-3 organ, and percussion* Sam Bardfeld – violin* Art Baron – tuba* Frank Bruno – guitar* Jeremy Chatzky – upright bass* Mark Clifford – banjo...

(which some reviewers noted that, oddly, contained no songs actually composed by Seeger). Springsteen and his band also toured to sellout crowds in a series of concerts based on those sessions. He had previously performed the Seeger staple, "We Shall Overcome", on Where Have All the Flowers Gone.

In the 1970s Harry Chapin
Harry Chapin
Harry Forster Chapin was an American singer-songwriter best known in particular for his folk rock songs including "Taxi", "W*O*L*D", and the number-one hit "Cat's in the Cradle". Chapin was also a dedicated humanitarian who fought to end world hunger; he was a key player in the creation of the...

 released a song dedicated to Seeger called "Old Folkie".

Awards


Seeger has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions throughout his career, including :
  • The Mid Hudson Civic Center Hall of Fame (2008)
    • Seeger and Arlo Guthrie performed the first public concert at the Poughkeepsie, New York not-for-profit family entertainment venue, close to Seeger's home, in 1976. Grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
      Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
      Tao Rodríguez-Seeger is an American contemporary folk musician. He plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and sings in Spanish and in English. He is known as a founder of The Mammals and is the grandson of folk musician Pete Seeger....

       accepted the Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of his grandfather.
  • The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
    Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
    The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...

     (1993)
  • The National Medal of Arts
    National Medal of Arts
    The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the...

     from the National Endowment for the Arts
    National Endowment for the Arts
    The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. Its current...

     (1994)
  • Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Honor (1994)
  • The Harvard Arts Medal (1996)
  • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

     (1996)
  • Grammy Award
    Grammy Award
    A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

     for Best Traditional Folk Album of 1996 for his record "Pete" (1997)
  • The Felix Varela Medal, Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

    's highest honor for "his humanistic and artistic work in defense of the environment and against racism" (1999)
  • The Schneider Family Book Award for his children's picture book "The Deaf Musicians." (2007)
  • The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award
    Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award
    The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award is awarded annually by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies. It is awarded to those advancing the cause of human rights in the Americas. The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award commemorates Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, who in 1976...

     (1986)
  • The Eugene V. Debs
    Eugene V. Debs
    Eugene Victor Debs was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World , and several times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States...

     Award (1979)
  • Grammy Award
    Grammy Award
    A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

     for best traditional album of 2008 for his record "At 89" (2008)
  • A proposal to name the Walkway Over the Hudson in his honor.
  • The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for his commitment to peace and social justice as a musician, songwriter, activist, and environmentalist that spans over sixty years. (2008)
  • The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
    The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
    The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize or Gish Prize is given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” It is one of the richest prizes in the American arts, for example the 2010 winner received...

     (2009)

From Seeger


  • "Some may find them [songs] merely diverting melodies. Others may find them incitements to Red revolution. And who will say if either or both is wrong? Not I."
  • "I like to say I'm more conservative
    Conservatism
    Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

     than Goldwater
    Barry Goldwater
    Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

    . He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other."
  • "Technology will save us if it doesn't wipe us out first."
  • "I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity
    Christianity
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

     is what the churches make of it. But if by some freak of history communism had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail."
  • "I certainly should apologize for saying that Stalin was a hard driver rather than a very cruel leader. I don't speak out about a lot of things. I don't talk about slavery. A lot of white people in America could apologize for stealing land from the Indians and enslaving Africans. Europe could apologize for worldwide conquest. Mongolia could apologize for Genghis Khan. But I think the thing to do is look ahead."
  • "There is hope for the world." – in Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.
  • "We sang about Alabama 1955, / But since 9-11, we wonder, will this world survive? / The world learned a lesson from Dr. King: / We can survive, we can, we will, and so we sing – // Don’t say it can’t be done, / The battle's just begun. / Take it from Dr. King, / You too can learn to sing, / So drop the gun."
  • "I believe God is everywhere."
  • "Singing with children in the schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life." – Seeger, October 17, 2009, at community concert in Beacon, New York
  • "I usually quote Plato, who said: It is very dangerous to allow the wrong kind of music in the republic." 0:45 @

From others


Jim Musselman (founder of Appleseed Recordings
Appleseed Recordings
Founded in 1997 by activist attorney Jim Musselman, Appleseed Recordings is an idealistic, internationally distributed and independent music label devoted to releasing socially conscious contemporary and traditional folk and roots music by a wide array of established and lesser-known musicians...

), longtime friend and record producer for Pete Seeger:
He was one of the few people who invoked the First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA). Everyone else had said the Fifth Amendment
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

, the right against self-incrimination, and then they were dismissed. What Pete did, and what some other very powerful people who had the guts and the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the committee and say, "I'm gonna invoke the First Amendment, the right of freedom of association...."

...I was actually in law school when I read the case of Seeger v. United States, and it really changed my life, because I saw the courage of what he had done and what some other people had done by invoking the First Amendment, saying, "We're all Americans. We can associate with whoever we want to, and it doesn't matter who we associate with." That's what the founding fathers set up democracy to be. So I just really feel it's an important part of history that people need to remember."


Raffi
Raffi (musician)
Raffi Cavoukian, CM, OBC , better known by his stage name Raffi, is a Canadian-Armenian singer-songwriter, author, essayist and lecturer...

 on his concert video "Raffi on Broadway" during the introduction of May There Always Be Sunshine
May There Always Be Sunshine
May There Always Be Sunshine is a Soviet Russian song, written for children. It was created in 1962. The music was composed by Arkady Ostrovsky, and the lyrics written by Lev Oshanin...

:

"And this song is the one that I first heard Pete Seeger singing. And he tells me that it was written by a four-year-old boy in Russia. And it's just got four lines and it's been translated into a number of languages."

See also

  • Seeger family
  • Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
    Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
    Tao Rodríguez-Seeger is an American contemporary folk musician. He plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and sings in Spanish and in English. He is known as a founder of The Mammals and is the grandson of folk musician Pete Seeger....

     – grandson
  • Tom Winslow
    Tom Winslow
    Thomas Griffin "Tom" Winslow was a prominent American folk singer and writer, best known as a "disciple" of Reverend Gary Davis and a former member of Pete Seeger's band. He performed with his family as The Winslows and recorded with Al Polito. His career as a performing artist lasted over forty...

     – Clearwater singer and songwriter

Further reading

  • Seeger, Pete, (Edited by Jo Metcalf Schwartz), The Incompleat Folksinger, New York : Simon and Schuster, 1972. ISBN 067120954X (excerpts) Also, reprinted in a Bison Book edition, Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1992. ISBN 0803292163

External links