Pete Seeger

One of the godfathers of modern folk music, Pete Seeger has wielded massive influence over several generations of singers and writers, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and either wrote or popularised familiar songs like We Shall Overcome, Where Have All The Flowers Gone, If I Had A Hammer and Turn Turn Turn. The son of teacher, folklorist and classical musician Charles Seeger, he took up ukulele and banjo as a child and quickly discovered a gift for communicating with and holding the attention of audiences. Planning a career in journalism he studied at Harvard, but the course of his life changed after meeting the great folk song collector Alan Lomax, assisting with his studies at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Encouraged by Lomax, Seeger started performing alongside the likes of Burl Ives, Josh White and Woody Guthrie and went on to found two hugely influential groups in the re-emergence of American folk music, The Almanac Singers and The Weavers; who had major hits with sanitised versions of Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene and On Top Of Old Smokey, Woody Guthrie's So Long It's Been Good To Know You, the African song Wimoweh and their own Kisses Sweeter Than Wine. However, their career was cut short by Senator McCarthy's purge of suspected communists and Seeger was blacklisted and briefly jailed for refusing to give evidence to a government investigation into communist activities. He remained a hero of the folk movement, however, and continued to campaign for unions and political causes, including civil rights marches with Dr Martin Luther King - his adaptation of We Shall Overcome became an anthem of the protest movement. He played many concerts with Arlo Guthrie - son of his old friend Woody Guthrie - and continued to campaign and perform into his 90s, including singing This Land Is Your Land with Bruce Springsteen at the inauguration of President Obama in 2009.

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Stations Featuring Pete Seeger

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