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Legendary Singer Pete Seeger Dies at 94

The folk music legend and social activist lived in Beacon, NY, on the Hudson River.

David Amran (left) takes the stage with Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt at the 2013 Clearwater Festival. Credit: Alison Bert.
David Amran (left) takes the stage with Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt at the 2013 Clearwater Festival. Credit: Alison Bert.
By Lanning Taliaferro

Iconic folk musician Pete Seeger, who loved and lived by the Hudson River, died Jan. 27. He was 94.

Seeger was active and at home in Beacon, NY, until his final illness, going into New York Presbyterian Hospital six days ago, according to the Huffington Post. 

In its obituary, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the organization he founded, mourned the death of its founder.

"Seeger planted the seed that started Hudson River Sloop Clearwater when he and a few friends, decided to “build a boat to save the river” with the belief that a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it.

"Seeger was able to inspire people to make the dream a reality; the keel was laid in October 1968 and christened with Hudson River water. The 106-foot sloop Clearwater was launched on May 17, 1969 at Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, and the inaugural sail was to South Street Seaport in New York City, and then on to her permanent home on the Hudson River. Today, the sloop sails the Hudson River from New York City to Albany as a “Sailing Classroom”, laboratory, musical stage, and forum. Since her launch, over half a million people have been introduced to the Hudson River estuary. Many Hudson Valley residents can share stories of the days when they were in elementary school and their voyage on the sloop Clearwater."

Seeger's career spanned 80 years. A member of The Weavers, one of the seminal folk music groups of the 1940s, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s. 

His banjo was a potent weapon in the 1960s and 1970s in the civil rights and anti-war movements, something PBS acknowledged in its American Masters episode "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song."

As a song writer, he was the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (with Joe Hickerson), "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world, according to Wikipedia. 

He sang in great and small venues, from the halls of Congress to the annual Pumpkin Festival in Beacon, where he had lived since 1943 with his wife Toshi Alina Ota, who died in July, 2013.

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