It was with deep sadness that I read of Pete Seeger’s death this morning. As the folks in MUSC 199 will learn later in the semester, Seeger had a profound impact on our conceptions of folk music, on the role of music in shaping lives, and, in many ways, on our sense of who were are as Americans. He lived 94 incredible years, staying true to his belief in the ability of music to affect social change. Maybe most of all, he believed in and fought for the basic humanity in all of us. He collected, wrote and sang songs that still live with us today.
In standing firm in his principles, he defied Congress and was held in contempt during the notorious Red Scare in our history. He was banned from different stages at times. Rocks were thrown at him at one concert. He marched, he organized, he rallied people, but mostly he got them singing. He even marched two years ago during the Occupy Wall Street protest.
Seeger had a few popular music hits and several musicians had hits with songs he had written. He won numerous awards and accolades in the course of his life, including induction in to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He was to have received the lifetime achievement award at this year’s annual meeting of the Society of American Music (to which I belong).
There are many wonderful tributes out there. I encourage to check out one or two and learn about this man.