Pete Seeger Dies at 94

David Amran (left) takes the stage with Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt at the 2013 Clearwater Festival. Photo/Alison Bert
David Amran (left) takes the stage with Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt at the 2013 Clearwater Festival. Photo/Alison Bert
Iconic folk musician Pete Seeger, who loved and lived by the Hudson River, died Jan. 27. He was 94.

Seeger, who was born in Patterson, NY, was active and at home in Beacon until his final illness, going into New York Presbyterian Hospital six days ago, according to the Huffington Post. 

In its obituary, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the organization he founded, mourned the death of its founder.

"Seeger planted the seed that started Hudson River Sloop Clearwater when he and a few friends, decided to “build a boat to save the river” with the belief that a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it.

"Seeger was able to inspire people to make the dream a reality; the keel was laid in October 1968 and christened with Hudson River water. The 106-foot sloop Clearwater was launched on May 17, 1969 at Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, and the inaugural sail was to South Street Seaport in New York City, and then on to her permanent home on the Hudson River. Today, the sloop sails the Hudson River from New York City to Albany as a “Sailing Classroom”, laboratory, musical stage, and forum. Since her launch, over half a million people have been introduced to the Hudson River estuary. Many Hudson Valley residents can share stories of the days when they were in elementary school and their voyage on the sloop Clearwater."

Seeger's career spanned 80 years. A member of The Weavers, one of the seminal folk music groups of the 1940s, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s.

His banjo was a potent weapon in the 1960s and 1970s in the civil rights and anti-war movements, something PBS acknowledged in its American Masters episode "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song."

As a song writer, he was the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (with Joe Hickerson), "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world, according to Wikipedia. 

He sang in great and small venues, from the halls of Congress to the annual Pumpkin Festival in Beacon, where he had lived since 1943 with his wife Toshi Alina Ota, who died in July, 2013.

"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," said the White House in a statement from President Barack Obama on Seeger. 
Tom Murphy January 28, 2014 at 06:42 PM
One of the many things that I always admired about Seeger is that when he was dragged before HUAC he stood up for his principles. He didn't try to save his own career by naming names. His career suffered for decades because of the courage he showed protecting all of our right's to free speech and thought. When darkness and fear threatened to overtake the land Pete lit a candle and didn't go gently into the night.
Linda January 29, 2014 at 09:37 AM
It is a mighty tribute to Pete Seeger that all of us know the words to "This Land is Your Land". Pete gave Woodie Guthrie's song to us. Pete also gave us the Gospel song "We Shall Overcome". Another song we sing with fervor. On his banjo, there is a circle of words, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." May we all think this way. Thank You Pete Seeger.
nanci perruna March 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM


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