PETE SEEGER R.I.P.


PETE SEEGER R.I.P.

 
After some turmoil about a hoax on the Internet, it was confirmed by the New York Times that America's best known living folk singer had passed away in New York City at the Presbyterian Hospital late Monday, January 27 at the age of 94.  For Pete Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were one and the same, and when he saw a community, he saw political action.  Seeger, a close friend of Woody Guthrie, was himself a songwriting mover and shaker in the folk revival with songs he wrote like "If I Had A Hammer," "Where Have All The Flowers Gone," and "Turn Turn Turn."  Although he recorded more than 100 albums, Pete distrusted commercialism and was never comfortable with the idea of stardom.  We both recorded for Smithsonian-Folkways, though my records never sold as much as his did.  He invariably used his celebrity to bring attention the causes he supported.  I asked him in the early years of our Old-Time Music Festival, if he would be a judge of the Folk Singers Contest.  He refused, telling me he could never be the kind of person who would tell one artist he/she was better than another artist.  He was born May 3, 1919 into a wealthy family.  He attended Harvard University where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League.  He later quit the Communist Party, but he bravely refused to tell Congress what his personal, religious, or political beliefs were.  He contended those were private and part of his constitutional right to freedom of speech AND thought.  It resulted in a 'contempt of congress' citation with a threat of prison, but it was withdrawn.  Without a doubt, Pete Seeger was one of America's true 'folk' artists, the voice, the music, the essence of him will be missed in many many ways for many many years.  President Obama said... "Once called 'America's tuning fork' Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song, but more importantly he believed in the power of community.  To stand up for what's right, speak out against what's wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.  Over the years, Pete Seeger used his voice, and his hammer to strike blows for workers rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation.  And, he always invited us to sing along.  For reminding us where we came from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger."  In closing, I'd like to say, do not honor Pete Seeger with a moment of silence, but rather honor his memory by refusing to be silenced.  Not sure where that came from, but it's what I feel.
 
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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