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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



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    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

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

    • profile image

      A BELIEVER in OUR USA! 6 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…


    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 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.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

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

    • profile image

      Monica Gronlund, Sweden 6 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

      Ralph Deeds 8 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."

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 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.


      Ralph Deeds

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

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 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.

    • profile image

      Dr. Joan S. Guilford 8 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.

    • profile image

      dillon roche 9 years ago

      oooops !!! my email is :

    • profile image

      dillonroche 9 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

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 10 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

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