About TOMORROW'S CHILDREN:
On Pete Seeger's "Tomorrow’s Children," winner of the 2010 "Best Musical Recording for Children" Grammy and his first studio album since 2008's Grammy-winning "At 89," the indomitable musician and activist continues his life’s work of communication and inspiration to action. This CD is like a joyful town picnic featuring Pete as a (global) village elder, assembling his neighbors to appreciate their past and present, to celebrate their triumphs against environmental threats, to swap old and new stories, to appreciate the natural glories surrounding them and to make sure that the following generations “carry it on” – the unifying spirit and power of music, the “folk process” of adapting or writing songs to respond to current situations.
The 19 newly recorded songs on "Tomorrow’s Children" testify to Seeger’s long-held credo, “Think globally, act locally.” Once considered a controversial outsider by some of the residents of his adopted hometown of Beacon, NY, the international icon of sociopolitical activism has since involved himself in local activities and issues and became accepted as a neighbor. His concern about the heavily polluted Hudson River that runs alongside Beacon inspired the construction of the 107- foot Sloop Clearwater, “America’s Environmental Flagship,” which sails the Hudson spreading environmental education and awareness.
When Beacon fourth-grade teacher Tery Udell invited Clearwater educator and singer Dan Einbender to teach her students about the Hudson, class sessions became songfests, and where there are songs, there’s Pete. He became a regular visitor to the kids’ classroom in 2007.
The classroom gatherings and performances inevitably led to a series of recordings by Pete, Dan, musician and CD co-producer (with Dan) David Bernz, the children (known as “The Rivertown Kids”), as well as adult musicians, high schoolers and even 14 grammar school percussion students. The result of such a disparate musical cast is a delight to the ears as presented on "Tomorrow’s Children. " Pete is on every track of the CD, singing, storytelling, playing banjo and 12-string guitar, but he shares the studio spotlight with all of his guests. Their voices, instruments and the songs they have adopted or adapted are woven into a colorful quilt depicting our nation’s history (“Take It from Dr. King,” the tribute to Pete’s fellow civil rights warrior performed on the “Late Night with David Letterman” show; “I See Freedom,” the true story of a runaway slave who settled in Beacon); the possibilities of an ecologically clean world (the newly co-written Seeger song “Solartopia” featuring guest vocalist Dar Williams), and the natural beauty worth preserving (“Down by the River,” “The River that Flows Both Ways,” and others). Perhaps most importantly, "Tomorrow’s Children" contains songs of empowerment and cooperation adapted or written by the kids themselves such as “We Sing Out” (“…so our voices can be heard,” with a melody borrowed from Tom Paxton), an updated version of the old gospel and union song, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and a set of new verses to Seeger’s Biblically-inspired standard, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” added for the children by Pete’s wife of more than 60 years, Toshi.
No matter who’s singing the songs, the spirit of "Tomorrow’s Children" is pure Pete. The reflective title track extols “the dream of changing the world into something new . . . Our greatest joy was opening the way for you.” And as Pete sings in “It’s a Long Haul,” “It’s a job for the many/Not just for the few . . .haulin’ together and makin’ up a rhyme.” That sounds like Paradise to Pete – a common goal approached with unity of purpose and effort, and sneaking in some fun, too. You needn’t be one of tomorrow’s children to take these reminders to heart.
About PETE SEEGER:
In a time when new celebrities and the latest technology are worshipped for a nanosecond before obsolescence, Pete Seeger just turned 91, received yet another prestigious award for his ongoing international good works (from WhyHunger, also known as the nonprofit World Hunger Year organization), and has released "Tomorrow's Children," the latest album in a discography stretching back more than a half century. He’s lovingly besieged by people of all ages who simply want to shake his hand and say, “Thanks.” He’s influenced musicians from Bruce Springsteen to Tom Morello to Rufus Wainwright. They don’t make ’em like Pete anymore – built to last.
For nearly 70 years as a performer, Pete Seeger has embodied the ideals of folk music – communication, entertainment, social comment, historical continuity, inclusiveness. The songs he has written, and those he has discovered and shared, have helped preserve our cultural heritage, imprinting adults and children with the sounds, traditions and values of our global past and present. A fearless warrior for social justice and the environment, Pete’s political activism – from the Civil Rights movement and anti-McCarthyism to resistance to fascism and the wars in Vietnam and the Middle East – has become the template for subsequent generations of musicians and ordinary citizens with something to say about the world.
Born in 1919 to musicologist Dr. Charles Seeger and concert violinist Constance Edson Seeger, Pete, while in his teens, developed an interest in music and journalism, crafts he would intertwine throughout his career. A Harvard University dropout (he was in the same class as John F. Kennedy), Seeger met, traveled and performed with the great topical folksong writer Woody Guthrie in 1940, inspiring Pete to start writing his own songs. Dedicating himself to “the music of the people,” Seeger formed the politically oriented Almanac Singers in 1941 with Guthrie and other musicians before being drafted in 1942 and sent to the Pacific.
After the war, Seeger resumed his career as performer and song collector, helping to found the still-existent Sing Out! magazine. In 1948, Seeger formed The Weavers with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and within three years the group had sold four million records. It embedded Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” in American culture, and its version of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene” topped the charts for six months. Blacklisted during the McCarthy era, the group disbanded in 1953 (although they reunited from 1955 to 1963). Pete left The Weavers in 1958 but continued to record and perform, despite being informally banned from most TV and radio shows and many concert stages for the next 17 years. When the “folk boom” of the early 1960s exploded, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary and the Limelighters all had hits with Seeger-written songs “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” As folk turned to rock in the mid-’60s, The Byrds brought Seeger to a young, electrified audience with their versions of his “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Bells of Rhymney.”
Meanwhile, Seeger continued to travel the campus and international circuit. From the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama, and Washington, DC, with Dr. Martin Luther King to anti-war demonstrations around the country, Pete and his banjo have been at the forefront of many social justice causes here and abroad. He has written songs for and participated in the labor and environmental movements and founded the Clearwater organization to call attention to the pollution of New York’s Hudson River and other American waterways.
“Pete, or his music, has been there through almost every major social movement in the last 50 years,” says Jim Musselman, founder and president of Appleseed Recordings, the independent label that has helped keep Seeger’s music alive and fresh for new generations through a trilogy of CD celebrations featuring close to 100 recordings of songs Pete wrote or adapted, as performed by politically outspoken musicians and public figures, from Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Steve Earle to actor/vocalist Tim Robbins and journalist Studs Terkel.
Springsteen’s 2006 "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" CD, subsequent tours, DVD and live album were originally sparked by a 1998 request from Appleseed for a Bruce rendition of a Seeger-related song. Bruce recorded “We Shall Overcome” for Appleseed’s first Seeger tribute, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger "(1998). Almost a decade later, Seeger and Springsteen collaborated for the first time, recording several songs for the label’s "Sowing the Seeds – The 10th Anniversary" sampler and its fund-raising charity CD to benefit the homeless, "Give US Your Poor, " their only recordings together. Pete’s Grammy-winning 2008 CD as “Best Traditional Folk Recording,” "At 89," followed 2003’s Grammy-nominated "Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3" 2-CD set, which included a disc of new Seeger recordings.
In addition to Seeger’s careers as musician and activist, he’s an author as well. Pete has written close to three dozen songbooks, instructional instrumental handbooks, children’s stories and other delightful works of fact and fiction.
Seeger and his wife of 60 years, Toshi Ohta Seeger, still live on a wooded hillside overlooking their beloved Hudson River in New York State where they long ago built a cabin using instructions from library books.