You're listening to Pete Seeger, one of America's authentic minstrels, whose birthday it is today. He was born in Manhattan in 1919, into a family of musicians and musicologists. But intially Pete thought he'd break the mold and be a journalist instead. And then, according to one report, he heard a banjo player at a folk music concert in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1935, and it changed his life. Several years later, he had left Harvard University, where he was a student, and he began to travel around the country, eventually becoming an assistant to Alan Lomax, the curator of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, where he taught himself to play banjo from the recordings in the Library's collection.
After a stint in the Army during World War II, where he was assigned to entertain his fellow soldiers, Seeger has spent the rest of his long life in the service of American folk music. He was central to the folk revival of the 1940s and 50s; a founding member of the Weavers; and an outspoken, tireless activist for the labor, civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements.
Seeger has believed, throughout his life, that folk music held the key to people understanding their past and one another, and to leading fuller lives in the present and future, and he has put this faith into play in all of his music, and, in particular on his many recordings for children, where his nimble picking style, his clear, friendly voice, and his gentle energy have kept the old songs fresh and new and ever green:
Copyright © 2001 by John Cech
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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:24:03 EDT