Sunday, January 26, 2014

Music to Inspire Your Faith: Pete Seeger RIP

Peter "Pete" Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was an American folk singer. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of The Weavers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the 1960s, he re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights, counterculture and environmental causes.

Toshi Aline Ohta Seeger (July 1, 1922 – July 9, 2013) was an American filmmaker, producer, environmental activist and wife of folk singer Pete Seeger, whom she married in 1943. She has been credited as the foundation of Seeger's personal and professional success. A filmmaker who specialized in the subject of folk music, Toshi's credits included the 1966 film, Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison, and the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, released through PBS in 2007.

Pete Seeger RIP. On this day a man who inspired me to learn guitar and sing of justice has left us his legacy. I was just 10 years old when my parents gave me an album of The Weavers at Carnegie Hall. The songs and banjo of Pete Seeger captured my imagination. 

Long before I bought any Beatles music I owned an EP of Seeger singing a live recording of We Shall Overcome. If conversion is a life changing  experience then hearing this song was my epiphany. Rest in peace my mentor and hero. May I sing your songs till the end of my days and share your passion for humanity and justice. The tears that well in my eyes are for a great loss and an act of thanksgiving.

This post is included on this blog because Pete Seeger was a significant influence on my spirituality and faith. He lived a life of personal commitment and walked the difficult road in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth, challenging the powers of empire. I sang his music in Churches as a teenager and young adult because they spoke the words of the Gospel in song. May he rest in peace and we never rest from the cause of justice and the power of song to nurture a sacred heart.

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