Weekender

Folk’s Pete Seeger: Gone but not forgotten: Sing-along’s ‘collective participation’ to reflect legend’s style

Pete Seeger performs at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh in September 1986. The famed folk singer and activist died in January of natural causes.
Pete Seeger performs at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh in September 1986. The famed folk singer and activist died in January of natural causes. MCT

From the time he arrived on the folk music scene in the 1940s, Pete Seeger has been known not only for his music but for his activism. Seeger passed away in January, leaving behind a decades-long career that included dozens of albums, hundreds of songs and a legion of fans. One of those fans, singer and guitarist Doug Morris, has organized a local event to celebrate Seeger’s music and legacy.

“The Pete Seeger Celebration and Sing-Along” will honor the collective style of music Seeger was known for. Morris plans to perform a variety of songs from Seeger’s anthology while projecting the lyrics on a screen so everyone can participate, and he said he encourages everyone to bring an instrument.

Weekender spoke to Morris about his connection to Seeger, the reasons he created this event and why this event should be of interest to people who have never listened to Seeger’s music.

Q: How would you describe Seeger’s musical style?

A: Pete was always interested in creating opportunities for people to sing together. The act of collective participation is crucial to Pete’s style. It is a style grounded in generating hope among people so they will feel inspired to act in the world for more justice and peace.

Q: Is there anything specific about Seeger that influenced you to create this event?

A: There seems to be a pressing need for protest music of multiple sorts, and Pete is a central figure in the history of world protest music.

Pete strikes me as someone who was always working to link knowledge and understanding to actions and interventions in the world, so in the best sense of the term, Pete was a revolutionary. We have to keep the fires that Pete lit burning, fueled and expanding.

Q: What about this event do you think is appealing to Seeger fans and newcomers?

A: The music Pete shared continues to be relevant because the world is wracked by injustices, iniquities and inequalities that need to be addressed and overcome. Relevance is appealing. It feels appealing to recognize and appreciate the contributions of our inspired and inspiring elders and mentors. The songs offer a meaningful historical overview of a good deal of protest music from the past 150 years or so. Those familiar with Pete’s music and those unfamiliar will both be happy we hope to hear and sing the songs.

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