Pete Seeger

Seeger, Pete, 1919–, American folksinger and composer, b. New York City. Seeger, the son of a musicologist and a musician, stepson of a composer, and nephew of Alan Seeger, left Harvard in 1938 and made a journey through the United States, collecting songs and meeting Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. In 1940, Seeger organized the Almanac Singers, and in 1948 he formed the Weavers. A major influence in reviving national interest in folk music, Seeger is intimate and casual as a performer, often inviting the audience to sing along. Among the many songs he has composed are "Where Have All the Flowers Gone,""Turn, Turn, Turn," and "If I Had a Hammer." A leftist activist who was blacklisted and charged with contempt of Congress, he has supported civil-rights, antiwar, environmental (with a late-life emphasis on the Hudson River), and other causes.

See biographies by D. Dunaway (1981, repr. 2008) and A. Wilkinson (2009).

His half-brother, Mike Seeger (Michael Seeger), 1933–2009, was an American singer, instrumentalist, and folklorist, b. New York City. The son of composer Ruth Seeger and musicologist Charles Seeger, he was largely self-taught, playing the guitar, banjo, dulcimer, mandolin, harmonica, and several other instruments. He collected songs from old records and from fellow musicians. In 1958 he founded the New Lost City Ramblers, a three-member string group that specialized in music of the 1920s and 30s. He recorded dozens of albums with this group, with other musicians, and as a soloist. Seeger influenced numerous musicians and was particularly important in the development of Bob Dylan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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