Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Died

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter died at Presbyterian Hospital in New York on 27 January 2014.

Jan 29, 2014 10:48 IST
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Pete SeegerPete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter died at Presbyterian Hospital in New York on 27 January 2014.  He was 94.

He spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change.

He rose from singing at labour rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festival. He deified the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

Pete Seeger was born on May 3, 1919, to Charles Seeger, a musicologist, and Constance de Clyver Edson Seeger, a concert violinist. He joined Young Communist League and founded a radical newspaper while studying at Harvard in 1936.


His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and anti-war causes in the 1970s and beyond. We Shall Overcome which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals became a civil rights anthem.

1n 1949, Seeger formed the band known as Weavers and released his first solo record, named Darling Corey.

His songs among many included Lead Belly’s Goodnight, Irene, which reached No. 1, and If I Had a Hammer, which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. He also sang Where Have All the Flowers Gone? which became an anti-war standard. And in 1965, his passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes Turn! Turn! Turn! sung by the Byrds became No. 1 hit.


He founded People’s Songs Inc., which published political songs and presented concerts for several years before going bankrupt.

Other Achievements of Pete Seeger

  • Seeger was a mentor to the younger folk and topical singers in the 1950s and 1960s, among them Bob Dylan.
  • In 1964 hit pop charts with his version of Little Boxes.
  • In 1994, he was awarded Presidential Medal of the Arts.
  • In 1996 Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • He also won the Grammy Awards for best traditional folk album in 1997 for the album Pete and in 2009 for the album At 89.
  • In 2011, he won the Grammy in the children’s music category for Tomorrow’s Children.

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