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Appreciating the Influence of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger - Photo by Anthony PepitoneToday, a life the likes of which we might all aspire to live has ended. Still vital to the end, still singing to the end, at the age of 94, Pete Seeger has passed the torch to all those who would put songs in the hearts of kids and grown-ups, who would seize every opportunity to bend the arc of history toward social justice, undeterred even by very advanced age or the difficulty of the task at hand. His love story with his wife Toshi, who passed away only last summer, might well remind us to always want what we have.

Pete’s influence trickled into my life through the generations between himself and me, starting with my parents and teachers and most recently through my Jersey rock hero Bruce Springsteen (inspiration for my TV alter ego’s name Cool Rockin’ Daddy) and my esteemed colleagues at Children’s Music Network, as well as the larger kindie and folk communities. When I was assigned to interview Steve Pullara about his “Absolutely Positively Getting Along” album, which contained strong, unmistakable anti-bullying messages and benefits the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, I was delighted to hear a new track featuring Pete and to get Steve’s take on having worked with artists of his stature.

Fellow kindie artists from Alastair Moock to Brady Rymer have elegantly stated their recollections of Pete and given us quite a reminder that his monumental task of planting songs in the hearts of children and championing social justice falls to those of us who feel some form of his passion. Stefan Shepherd, a just-as-passionate writer about children’s music for his own Zooglobble.com blog, describes the enormity of this loss and shares in the desire to keep Pete’s beat going for new generations whether you call it kindie, kids’ music, folk or any other name.

I, for one, wish to thank Pete Seeger for the many precious gifts he left to America and the World: his songs, his relentless pursuit of causes he cared for, and the very example of his life and vitality. I join among the ranks who aspire to these gifts.