The Kennedy Center page says,
Pete Seeger is arguably the most influential folk artist in the United States. He was instrumental in popularizing the indigenous songs of this country, and his own songs, among them "If I Had a Hammer," "We Shall Overcome," "Turn, Turn, Turn," and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," have served as anthems for an entire generation of Americans. Born into a family of Juilliard music professors, Seeger spent his early years in private schools and studied sociology at Harvard College. His first exposure to folk music came at age 16--at a folk festival he attended with his father in Asheville, North Carolina. But it was in 1938, when he dropped out of Harvard after two years to ride the rails and hitchhike all over the United States, that he immersed himself in that music."

At the Pete Seeger Appreciation Page Jim Capaldi says,
"In addition to being America's best-loved folksinger and an untiring environmentalist, Pete Seeger is a national treasure. He has been at the forefront of the labor movement, the struggle for Civil Rights, the peace and anti-war movements, and the fight for a clean world. He has been a beacon for hope for millions of people all over the world."

  • 1919 - Born into a family of Juilliard music professors in Manhattan, New York
  • 1935 - Exposed to folk music at age 16 - at a folk festival he attended with his father in Asheville, NC.
  • 1936 - Graduated from Avon Old Farms prep school in Avon, Connecticut
  • 1936 - At the age of 17, Pete Seeger joined the Young Communist League (YCL)
  • 1938 - Dropped out of Harvard after two years to ride the rails and hitchhike all over the United States, immersing himself in that music.
  • 1940 - Becomes an assistant in the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress.
  • 194? - Seeger served in the US Army in the Pacific. He was trained as an airplane mechanic, but was reassigned to entertain the American troops with music.
  • 1950's - Had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene"
  • 1950-mid-60's - Members of The Weavers were blacklisted from national television during the McCarthy Era.
  • 1955 - Seeger was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He refused to plead the Fifth Amendment and refused to name personal and political associations on the grounds that this would violate his First Amendment rights.
  • 1961 - He was convicted in a jury trial of contempt of Congress, 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.
  • 1960's - Prolific song writer, writing songs like "If I Had a Hammer," "We Shall Overcome," "Turn, Turn, Turn," and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," popularized by groups and singers such as The Kingston Trio, Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Rivers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Trini Lopez, The Byrds and Judy Collins.
    Seeger was one of the folksingers most responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome" during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • 1966 - Pete Seeger and a small group of river-lovers built a boat to dramatize the Hudson River's plight.He held concerts to collect money to build the elegant tall ship that would become a symbol of environmental advocacy, the flagship of the American Environmental Movement, the sloop Clearwater.
  • 1967 - Appears on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, but CBS would not let him sing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy", which includes the line "We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on." It was actually about a captain in WWII, but people thought it referred to Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam war.
  • 1982 - Seeger performed at a benefit concert for Poland's Solidarity resistance movement. the first public manifestation of Seeger's decades-long personal dislike of communism in its Soviet form. 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."
  • 1993 - Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1994 - 24th Kennedy Center Honors, the Millennium Stage pays tribute to 1994 Honoree Pete Seeger.
  • 1996 - Awarded the Harvard Arts Medal, presented annually to a Harvard graduate who has made an important contribution to the arts.
  • 1996 - Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Quotes:

"Some may find them merely diverting melodies. Others may find them incitements to Red revolution. And who will say if either or both is wrong? Not I."
Rolling Stone, April 13, 1972
Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That's what Seeds is all about. And this wonderful parable in the New Testament: the sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don't grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don't grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousand fold. Who knows where some good little thing that you've done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of?
Interview, Democracy Now, May 4, 2009

Links:
Pete Seeger Biography | The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Pete Seeger Music
Pete Seeger Appreciation Page (PeteSeeger.net)
Pete Seeger: Singer of Social Change - The Planet - Sierra Club
Pete Seeger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hudson River


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last updated 30 Jan 2014