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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withdrawn.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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