Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Pete Seeger, Well-Known American Peace Activist, Died in the 95th Year of His Life

00 Pete & Toshi Seeger. 28.01.14





On Monday, according to the New York Times, Pete Seeger, a resident of Beacon NY, one of the most influential American folk-singers, died in the 95th year of his life. It cited filmmaker Kitama Cahill-Jackson, a grandson of the singer, who said that Seeger died of natural causes at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. Seeger was a key figure in the folk music revival in the USA in the mid-20th century and in the emergence of protest music. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was a member of a popular group, The Weavers. McCarthyism stymied Seeger’s career, as he was a leftist. In the mid-1950s, a court convicted him of Contempt of Congress because he refused to answer questions about his political views before the House Un-American Activities Committee. After the late 1950s, and more so in the 1960s, Seeger began to appear on stage again, singing protest songs, including anti-war items.

He wrote the anti-war anthem, Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Seeger wrote this song on an airplane, after reading his favourite lullaby, an English translation of three lines in the novel Quietly Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov. The song became famous in the USA, sung almost simultaneously by Seeger, Joan Baez, and Roy Orbison. In Europe, Marlene Dietrich made it famous, singing it in English, French, and German. In Russian translation, Zhanna Bichevskaya sang the song in Найди свою песню (Find Your Song) in 1976. Another Russian version featured the group Megapolis (with singer Masha Makarova). In 2004, Seeger discussed with Valery Pisigin, a Russian expert on American folk music, the possibility of donating monies received in royalties for the song to Russian causes, because this song was “partly borrowed from the Russian people”.

28 January 2014




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