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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."