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January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger: Singer of Social Change

Pete-SeegerPhoto by Anthony Pepitone, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Legendary folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger, whose career spanned more than 70 years, died this Monday, January 27, at age 94.

A believer that music could be a catalyst for societal change, Seeger championed civil and labor rights, racial equality, and anti-militarism. Although he served in the U.S. Army in World War II, he was a leading voice in opposition to the Vietnam War. Around the same time, after reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, he became an environmental activist, co-founding the organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in 1966 to highlight pollution in the Hudson River and advocate for its cleanup.

Pete-SeegerPhoto by James Kavalinnes, New York World Telegram, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In 2009, Sierra Club deputy communications director Orli Cotel interviewed Seeger for Sierra Club Radio. "It was one of my favorite interviews that I've ever done," Cotel says. "He talked with us for nearly 15 minutes about music and social change, his 40-year fight to clean up the Hudson River, performing at President Obama's inauguration, and loads more. He was truly inspiring."

Listen to the interview.


"A good song reminds us what we're fighting for."
- Pete Seeger

Pete-SeegerPete Seeger at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival. Photo by William Wallace, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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