Pete Seeger, as beloved for his enduring folk songs as for his principled political activism for six decades, has died.
Seeger began his singing career as part of the Weavers in 1948, performing tunes of peace. Just seven years later, McCarthyism caught up with Seeger. The singer refused to testify. After years of legal wrangling, Seeger was convicted of contempt in 1961. A year later that conviction was overturned on a technicality.
For years, Seeger was blacklisted and banned from performing in schools and concert venues. He refused to be silent, writing and demonstrating whenever he could.
He was the inspiration for many folksinging giants, including Joan Baez who said of Seeger: "We all owe our careers to Pete Seeger." and Peter, Paul, and Mary who made famous Seeger's If I Had a Hammer. Other long-enduring Seeger classics are Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Turn! Turn! Turn!.
In 1994, the National Endowment of the Arts bestowed on Seeger the National Medal of Arts. In 1996, he won his first Grammy and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Twelve years later, he won his second Grammy. And just one year later, in a stunning moment of political validation, he performed at a celebratory concert in Washington, D.C. two days before President Barack Obama's first inauguration.
Seeger stayed politically active until the end of his life. In 2011, he marched in New York City with the Occupy Movement. He performed in last year's FarmAid concert and, as a lifelong environmentalist, this past November he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the Arctic 30 who were granted their freedom the following month.
In 2012, Seeger published Pete Seeger: In His Own Words.
Seeger, who was 94, died of natural causes.
Pete Seeger is no stranger to area music lovers. He made several trips to perform here. His benefit concert for the Ark is fondly remembered. Check out these Old News articles on this beloved muscian.