Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Protest Singer

Folk legend Pete Seeger's birhday is Monday, May 3. He and Woody Guthrie travelled America in the 1940s, bolstering labor movements and civil rights protests with song as they blended activism and folk music. In 1942, Seeger joined the Army, where he continued to play and sing, performing for the other soldiers. In 1948, he started a group called The Weavers. In line with Seeger’s political ideals, the group wove a mix of vocals and music with social and political commentary. Unfortunately, by the time the group was becoming popular, the political climate of America had soured. McCarthyism held the country in a firm grasp of fear, and the Weavers were soon banned. Seeger was among the first to write songs questioning the Vietnam war. The Smothers Brothers show shattered the 17-year TV blacklist against Seeger, insisting that he perform "Waist Deep In The Big Muddy," a song inspired by a photo of American soldiers slogging through a river in the Mekong Delta. He stood beside Paul Robeson when he was attacked by the Klan at Peekskill and marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. Five years before Greenpeace was founded, Pete launched his own environmental campaign on the Hudson. To mark the awe-inspiring 91st birthday of Pete, have a sing along, read his biography, listen to a cd, green the world, or join a protest.

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