News / Arts & Entertainment

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Honors Pete Seeger

FILE - Folk singer Pete Seeger plays his banjo in Beacon, New York, May 5, 2006.
FILE - Folk singer Pete Seeger plays his banjo in Beacon, New York, May 5, 2006.
Katherine Cole

Each year during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, there’s a concert to honor the legacy of Ralph Rinzler, one of the event’s founders.  This year, it was also a tribute to Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer and activist who died in January, just a few months before his 95th birthday.

Pete Seeger and Ralph Rinzler both played major roles in the revival of folk music in America, not just by playing it, but also by producing festivals and discovering performers. They also understood that music could be used as a tool for social change.

“There was a lot of conversation about do we get the biggest stars on the planet or do we get the most fiery activists,” said Sabrina Lynn Motley, director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. “We finally settled on, again going back to this idea of legacy and values, and who were people who really spoke to both of their legacies about engaging community, about honoring traditional arts, about this idea of a ‘citizen' artist. And names started to emerge. Some local, some who are international, from our artists who are here from China and Kenya.”

Performers included Pete’s nephew, Tony Seeger, who took time to remember Ralph Rinzler and his contributions to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

“Ralph’s job was to go around the back country, the small cities and towns and find great performers of vernacular [regional] music,” he said.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Honors Pete Seeger
Smithsonian Folklife Festival Honors Pete Seegeri
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival strives to combine different musical traditions from around the world. As part of the concert honoring Pete Seeger, American banjo player Abigail Washburn was joined by the Dimen Dong Folk Chorus, a group of Chinese folk singers in traditional dress.

“We’re going to go to Guizhou, China, to the mountains, for this next song that Pete Seeger often sang," she said. "I was sitting, watching these guys do their show the other day and they had a song called ‘The Cuckoo.’  So I went and sang my song ‘The Cuckoo’ for them while they were weaving, the Appalachian song ‘The Cuckoo.'   And they said ‘oh, that’s cool…’ And then we started singing it together and came up with this arrangement.”

Also performing was Tony Trischka who stopped by VOA before the concert to talk about Pete Seeger and play a few songs, including Seeger’s arrangement of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.”

Trischka said the word that comes to mind when he thinks of his friend is “optimism.”

“He just always felt like we can stop war, we can clean up the environment, he just had this energy about him that I’ve never seen in another person," he said. "He just always had this positive energy coming out. He would stand out on the street corner in Beacon, New York on Saturday mornings for an hour, holding a peace sign. Just Pete. Just standing there with a peace sign. And he would always say: do the smallest, little thing.”

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."