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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”