Magazine article Variety

Folk Singer Was a Weaver of the American Story

Magazine article Variety

Folk Singer Was a Weaver of the American Story

Article excerpt

Folk singer Pete Seeger, the pioneering troubadour who made his music an expression of community, conscience and social justice, died of natural causes Jan. 27 in New York. He was 94.

Perhaps more than any performer, Seeger was instrumental in popularizing the traditional American folk repertoire. Many of the country's most loved songs were passed along via Seeger's voluminous recordings of them.

He viewed the sharing of folk songs as a democratic act. Seeger encouraged group sing-alongs that were an inevitable feature of his concerts.

The banjo-plucking tenor's name was synonymous with musical activism from the beginning. He was reared in the leftist folk movement of the 1940s, where he appeared alongside such iconic figures as Woody Guthrie.

Seeger was briefly a major pop star in the early 1950s: His quartet the Weavers recorded a version of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene."

Seeger's career ran aground during the anti-Communist fervor of the era, but he was later an idol of the nascent folk revival of the '60s; his compositions "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" were respectively recorded by the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary and the Byrds.

He was closely identified with the '60s civil rights movement, and had a hand in adapting the 1901 Baptist hymn "I'll Overcome Someday" into the anthem "We Shall Overcome," which he helped popularize on a 1963 live album. …

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