American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger dies at 94

Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:29pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Diane Bartz

(Reuters) - Pete Seeger, who helped create the modern American folk music movement, co-wrote enduring songs like "If I Had a Hammer" and became a leading voice for social justice, died on Monday at the age of 94.

He was hailed in social and traditional media as a "hero," "America's conscience" and "a man of the people."

Seeger died of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, his record company, Appleseed Recordings, said.

Seeger was well known for his liberal politics. He protested U.S. wars from Vietnam to Iraq, participated in the civil rights movement, supported organized labor and helped found an environmental group that played a key role in cleaning up the polluted Hudson River.

In 1961, he was sentenced to prison for refusing to testify to Congress about his time in the Communist Party.

Nearly a half-century later, Seeger performed at a January 2009 concert marking the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

"He believed in the power of community - to stand up for what's right, speak out against what's wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be," Obama said in a statement. "For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger."

In May 2009, Seeger celebrated his 90th birthday with a concert in New York's Madison Square Garden that drew 15,000 spectators and performers, including Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson. Proceeds went to Seeger's environmental group, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.   Continued...

Musician Pete Seeger (R) performs with Toshi Reagan (L) and Warren Haynes (C) during a concert celebrating Seeger's 90th birthday in New York May 3, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson