- NAME: Pete Seeger
- OCCUPATION: Children's Activist, Civil Rights Activist, Environmental Activist, Anti-War Activist, Songwriter, Guitarist, Singer
- BIRTH DATE: May 03, 1919
- DEATH DATE: January 27, 2014
- EDUCATION: Harvard University, Avon Old Farms
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- AKA: Pete Seeger
- Full Name: Peter Seeger
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Pete Seeger was an iconic singer-songwriter best known for his contributions to the American folk music revival and his political activism.
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Born on May 3, 1919, Pete Seeger was an iconic singer-songwriter best known for his contributions to the American folk music revival and his political activism. He wrote hits like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and "Turn, Turn, Turn," which have since been recorded by several other artists. Seeger was also an engaged activist, supporting such causes as international disarmament, civil rights and environmental awareness. For his established career as a musician and activist,
"Some may find them [songs] merely diverting melodies. Others may find them incitements to Red revolution. And who will say if either or both is wrong? Not I."
"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."
"I look upon myself as a planter of seeds."
"Technology will save us if it doesn't wipe us out first."
"There is hope for the world."
"I usually quote Plato, who said: It is very dangerous to allow the wrong kind of music in the republic."
Seeger received three musical Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among various other honors, during his lifetime. He died at age 94 on January 27, 2014, in New York City.
American folk icon Peter Seeger was born in New York City on May 3, 1919, into a family of musicians. His father, Charles Seeger, taught music for some time at the University of California, Berkeley; and his mother, Constance (de Clyver Edson) Seeger, taught violin at the Juilliard School. Seeger's brother, Mike, would eventually become a member of New Lost City Ramblers; his sister, Peggy, would become a performing folk musician, alongside Ewan McColl.
A precocious child, Seeger was well-read and began developing political and social ideas at an early age. After receiving an early education at Avon Old Farms, a Connecticut boarding school, Seeger enrolled at Harvard University on a scholarship in 1936. After only two years at Harvard, however, he failed an exam and lost his scholarship, so he dropped out. He spent the rest of the 1930s as a vagabond, hitchiking and riding on freight trains around the country.
During this time, Seeger also focused on writing music. By 1940, he had organized a folk quartet called the Almanac Singers, which frequently featured Seeger's friend and fellow folk musician, Woody Guthrie. The Almanac Singers released several albums in the early '40s. In 1942, however, the group's musical progress was stopped short: Seeger was drafted into the Army to aid the country in battle during World War II, and the group disbanded not long after.
In 1943, Seeger married Toshi Aline Ohta, whom he'd met at a dance in the late 1930s.
After the war ended, in 1945, Pete Seeger went back to his musical career, performing folk songs and helping found the magazine Sing Out! A few years later, in 1948, he formed the Weavers, which included Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. The group produced several albums of standard folk songs in the early 1950s—among them "On Top of Old Smoky," "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and "The Wreck of the John B"—and even appeared in a 1951 film musical, Disc Jockey. The band also wrote and recorded several original songs, including "If I Had a Hammer" (1949) and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (1950).
The Weavers' success was halted, however, when speculation rose regarding Seeger's leftist political ideals, culminating with the band's designation as a Communist group by FBI informant Harvey Matusow (who later retracted his statement). The Weavers took a short break from 1952 to 1955—caused in large part by the negative press—and Seeger broke from the band in 1958. The group officially disbanded in 1962.
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