LifeNotes: Folk Singer Pete Seeger Dies at 94

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

Folk singer/songwriter Pete Seeger died Jan. 27 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He was 94.

Born in 1919 in New York City to musicologist Dr. Charles Seeger and concert violinist Constance Edson Seeger, Pete Seeger developed interests in music and journalism.

After dropping out of Harvard University (he was in the same class as John F. Kennedy), Pete Seeger met and traveled with folksong writer Woody Guthrie in 1940, which inspired Seeger to pen his own songs. In 1942, Seeger was drafted into the Army and sent to the Pacific.

After a stint in the military, Seeger became a member of The Weavers in the early 1950s; the band’s recording of Lead Belly‘s “Goodnight, Irene” topped the charts in 1950. In the 1960s, Seeger became a musician on the forefront of protest music; he supported civil rights and various environmental causes.

Seeger adapted a Bible passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes into a No. 1 hit, “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” for The Byrds in the 1960s; the song was also recorded by Judy Collins as well as The Seekers. Other popular Seeger-penned songs include “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?,” which was a Top 40 hit for the Kingston Trio and a popular anthem during anti-Vietnam War rallies. He also adapted a gospel song to sing for union workers, creating the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” “If I Had a Hammer” was a hit record for Peter, Paul & Mary in 1962 and for Trini Lopez in 1963.

Seeger won three Grammy awards, including a trophy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 1996 for Pete, the Best Traditional Album honor in 2008 for At 89, and a trophy for his 2010 project Tomorrow’s Children: Pete Seeger and the Rivertown Kids and Friends. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Most recently, Seeger performed as part of Farm Aid 2013.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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