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Pete Seeger, "The Power of Song"

Updated on August 27, 2015

The Power of Song

The documentary, "The Power of Song," tells the story of the long and sometimes rocky road traveled by a remarkable American, Pete Seeger. For the pre-boomer generation it will bring back memories of the anti-communist hysteria that followed World War II, the depredations of Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, the blacklisting of some of our most talented artists, screenwriters and directors, the quagmire of Vietnam and the growth in popularity of American folk music. For younger people, the documentary tells a story which contains important messages about contemporary issues including the Iraq war and global warming.

Pete Seeger never deviated from his beliefs about world peace, social justice, racial equality, labor rights, environmental conservation, and concern for the less fortunate among us. Although he was pilloried for his support of some of these causes and his brief membership in the U.S. Communist Party, harrassed by HUAC, Joe McCarthy and the FBI and banned for a decade from television, Seeger never wavered from his refusal to testify about his political beliefs and was ultimately vindicated when his conviction for refusal to answer questions on his political beliefs and activities put to him by the House Un-American Activities Committee was over-turned in the courts. Later he was honored by President Bill Clinton in the White House for his lifetime of accomplishments and by Republican Governor Pataki of New York for his successful efforts to clean up the Hudson River.

Throughout his life, Seeger used folk songs as a way of promoting the causes in which he believed. He is considered the father of American folk music. His motto was "Think globally. Act locally."

Pete Seeger on the Deck of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Bring 'em Home!

Where Have All the Flowers Gone, written and performed by Pete Seeger

Guantanamera

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    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 9 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Yes - his was one of the great contributions to a more enlightened society. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      dillonroche 8 years ago

      i am looking for copy of take it from dr. king by pete . i believe it was in singout #49/2 featuring pete on cover , but back issues are not available . also would like lyrics and chords for the dove !!!                         thanx .....                                        dillon

    • profile image

      dillon roche 8 years ago

      oooops !!! my email is : dillonroche@netscape.net

    • profile image

      Dr. Joan S. Guilford 7 years ago

      I have been an admirer of Pete Seeger and everything he has stood for since he first arrived on the scene many years ago. (I'm 81 myself) I know that he has been wanting to be an honoree at the John F. Kennedy award show for some time and I believe that he is way overdue for an invitation to become acclaimed--moreso than a number of entertainers who have been asked to participate. I think that you folks should start a campaign for him to receive this award. You might address George Stevens, Jr., co-producer of the Performing Arts award by writing him at 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20566. Unfortunately, I don't have a Web addres to provide, but SOMETHING needs to be done before we lose him. Nobody lives forever and he has done more to promote righteousness than anyone I know.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment and suggestion, Dr. Gifford. I completely agree, and I will write a letter and post it here in the comments on this page.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Here are the previous winners:

      Recipients of Kennedy Center Honors

      The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., created its Honors awards in 1978 to recognize the lifetime achievements of selected American performing artists.

      1978

      Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, Richard Rodgers, Arthur Rubinstein, George Balanchine

      1979

      Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, Martha Graham, Tennessee Williams, Aaron Copland

      1980

      James Cagney, Leonard Bernstein, Agnes de Mille, Lynn Fontanne, Leontyne Price

      1981

      Count Basie, Cary Grant, Helen Hayes, Jerome Robbins, Rudolf Serkin

      1982

      George Abbott, Lillian Gish, Benny Goodman, Gene Kelly, Eugene Ormandy

      1983

      Katherine Dunham, Elia Kazan, James Stewart, Virgil Thomson, Frank Sinatra

      1984

      Lena Horne, Danny Kaye, Gian Carlo Menotti, Arthur Miller, Isaac Stern

      1985

      Merce Cunningham, Irene Dunne, Bob Hope, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Beverly Sills

      1986

      Lucille Ball, Ray Charles, Yehudi Menuhin, Antony Tudor, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy

      1987

      Perry Como, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nathan Milstein, Alwin Nikolais

      1988

      Alvin Ailey, George Burns, Myrna Loy, Alexander Schneider, Roger L. Stevens

      1989

      Harry Belafonte, Claudette Colbert, Alexandra Danilova, Mary Martin, William Schuman

      1990

      Dizzy Gillespie, Katharine Hepburn, Risë Stevens, Jule Styne, Billy Wilder

      1991

      Roy Acuff, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the brothers Fayard and Harold Nicholas, Gregory Peck, Robert Shaw

      1992

      Lionel Hampton, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Ginger Rogers, Mstislav Rostropovich, Paul Taylor

      1993

      Johnny Carson, Arthur Mitchell, Georg Solti, Stephen Sondheim, Marion Williams

      1994

      Kirk Douglas, Aretha Franklin, Morton Gould, Harold Prince, Pete Seeger

      1995

      Jacques d'Amboise, Marilyn Horne, B. B. King, Sidney Poitier, Neil Simon

      1996

      Edward Albee, Benny Carter, Johnny Cash, Jack Lemmon, Maria Tallchief

      1997

      Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, Charlton Heston, Jessye Norman, Edward Villella

      1998

      Bill Cosby, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Willie Nelson, André Previn, Shirley Temple Black

      1999

      Victor Borge, Sean Connery, Judith Jamison, Jason Robards, Stevie Wonder

      2000

      Mikhail Baryshnikov, Plácido Domingo, Angela Lansbury, Chuck Berry, Clint Eastwood

      2001

      Julie Andrews, Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones, Jack Nicholson, Luciano Pavarotti

      2002

      James Earl Jones, James Levine, Chita Rivera, Paul Simon, Elizabeth Taylor

      2003

      James Brown, Carol Burnett, Loretta Lynn, Mike Nichols, Itzhak Perlman

      2004

      Warren Beatty, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Elton John, Joan Sutherland, John Williams

      2005

      Tony Bennett, Suzanne Farrell, Julie Harris, Robert Redford, Tina Turner

      2006

      Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, William “Smokey” Robinson, Steven Spielberg, Andrew Lloyd Webber

      2007

      Steve Martin, Diana Ross, Leon Fleisher, Martin Scorsese, Brian Wilson

      2008

      Morgan Freeman, George Jones, Barbra Streisand, Twyla Tharp, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      October 17, 2009

      Mr. George Stevens, Jr.

      Co-Producer, Performing Arts Awards

      2700 F Street, NW

      Washington, D.C. 20566

      Dear Mr. Stephens:

      The time is overdue for honoring a courageous and talented American performer, Pete Seeger, with a Kennedy Center Performing Arts Award. Pete Seeger has what may be the longest career exemplifying the finest American values—peace, human rights, conservation. He has followed his own maxim for more than 70 years--“Think globally and act locally.”

      Thank you for considering my thoughts on the Performing Arts Awards for this year.

      Sincerely,

      Ralph Deeds

      Enclosure: “The Power of Song: The Pete Seeger Story”

      https://hubpages.com/politics/The-Power-of-Song-Th...

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I received this reply to my letter above from George Stephens, Jr.'s assistant Ms. McCarthy--

      "Mr. Deeds--Thank you for your letter. Pete Seeger was a K.C. Honoree in 1994."

    • profile image

      Monica Gronlund, Sweden 5 years ago

      I just want to say that Pete Seeger is my / and the / greatest performer ever, and has been through out the years. Even if I am only 57 today I hav had lots of time to reflect on his songs.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment, all the way from Sweden. Next to Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger is my favorite.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      All of that old protest music is still wonderful - and probably more relevant these days even, if that's possible.

      Who do we have in the protest folk genre nowadays, Sir??

      I'm coming up with Steve Earl, and having a hard time thinking of who else.

    • profile image

      A BELIEVER in OUR USA! 5 years ago

      what an amazing man! I remember growing up to his music. It always made me feel so good. his beliefs then, and even today, are what our world needs more of. Why are we always sticking our BIG NOSE into the welfare of other countries? Seriously?

      it's time WE, Americans, take back out country. WHY are we allowing these DING-BATS (President, Congress, political office, etc, etc., etc.) to tell us HOW to live? what to do? Just imagine the entire world getting along? Seriously? why the hell not? I sure as hell do NOT see THIS PLAN working? DO YOU?

      just saying…

      WHY NOT? BE AS ONE? WHY NOT!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image
      Author

      Ralph Deeds 5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Pete Seeger Sings to Occupy Wall Street Crowd in impromptu concert.

      http://harvardmagazine.com/2011/10/pete-seeger-occ...

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