Before dying of natural causes at age 94 on January 27th, Pete Seeger “helped millions understand the world better and stress peaceful resolution,” says Dan Efram (Tractor Beama president, the producer of Call It Democracy and an upcoming Elephant 6 documentary, and the Apples in Stereo’s manager). Efram has started a petition for a Pete Seeger memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C to help ensure future generations know his importance.
“Pete Seeger’s life had a profound impact on millions,” Efram writes. “He had a deep belief in being able to change the world through song. His idealism, fierce independence and courage should be honored, treasured and used as an inspiration for generations to come…His efforts through his music and through the Clearwater Foundation brought people together and helped to educate over 20,000 New York City kids each year about the Hudson River, the environment and treating each other with respect.” Join Jim James and Andrew Bird in signing the petition to remember Seeger with a memorial in Washington.
The petition is one of many ways “Seeger’s children” are remembering him. Greenburgh, New York Town Supervisor Paul Feiner is proposing the NY State Legislature rename the currently-under-construction replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge after Seeger, many followers remembered the singing activist on social media (below) and the Grammy Museum and Woody Guthrie Center have redesigned a fundraiser Seeger was set to perform at into a tribute to him. The February 22 ceremony at New York’s Symphony Space, retitled “How Can I Keep from Singing,” will still recognize Pete Seeger with the inaugural Woody Guthrie Prize, as planned before Pete’s passing. Nora Guthrie explains, “The only thing I know for certain is that Pete would want us to gather together and make some music. The power of song, as he constantly reminded us, can take us through everything that life, and death, throws at us. On Feb. 22, we won’t take a moment of silence to remember him. We will take all the moments to sing — as loudly and with as many harmonies as we can muster.” Arlo Guthrie, Tony Trischka and special guests to be announced will pay tribute to Pete at the event with all proceeds benefitting the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
President Obama released the following statement regarding Pete’s passing:
“Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, 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. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.”
Pete’s final performance was a surprise appearance at Farm Aid last September and “he was chopping wood 10 days [before his death], according to his grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson. Even more remarkably, a fan who wrote Seeger received a reply in the mail from Pete the day after his passing (Pete wrote in the margin of the original letter, shown below):