Woody Guthrie comes to mind, but if you Google "founder of folk music in America," you will get Pete Seeger (here with Guthrie) at the top of the list. Last week I posted on "The Tragedy of Tokyo Rose." I could have titled this article "The Tragedy of Pete Seeger," and you can only wonder how much more he could have contributed if provided the opportunity he deserved.
- At the age of 17 joined the Young Communist League, and became a member of the Communist Party USA in 1942, criticizing America's participation in World War II.
- Served in the Pacific during WWII.
- In 1944 he sang for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (right).
- In 1948 he helped third party presidential candidate Henry Wallace with Paul Robeson, where the effort was defamed for being communistic.
- In the 50's he supported civil/labor rights, racial equality and anti-militarism.
- In 1955 he was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was in 1957 indicted for contempt of Congress.
- In 1960 the San Diego school board prevented him from playing a scheduled concert, and the San Diego School District officially extended an apology in 2009 for this action.
- He was indeed found guilty of contempt in 1961, and sentenced to 10 years in jail, but the verdict was overthrown in 1962.
- In the 60's he protested the Vietnam War and became an environmentalist. He and his wife helped "save" the Hudson.
- If I Had a Hammer (Pete Seeger)
- On Top of Old Smoky (unknown composer)
- Goodnight, Irene (written by Leadbelly)
- Tzena, Tzena, Tzena (an Israeli song)
- So Long It's Been Good to Know You (written by Woody Guthrie)
- Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (which he co-wrote with Lead Belly and Lee Hays)
- Wimoweh (a South African Zulu song)
More recently, the Clearwater Concert was held in 2009 at the Madison Square Garden to celebrate his 90th birthday (and later televised on PBS). At the age of 92 he marched with Occupy Wall Street, and followed with a concert with Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family at Carnegie Hall. This past September he was there with Willie Nelson and Neil Young at Farm Aid in New York, here singing This Land is Your Land.