Happy Birthday to Pete Seeger at 90

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger turned 90 last night and I was fortunate to be there for the celebration at Madison Square Garden in New York City with my wife Lorraine and daughter Manika.  It was a historic event.  President Obama sent a letter congratulating Pete for his tremendous contribution inspiring people to work for change, justice and peace through music.  Many great musicians performed including Arlo Guthrie, Taj Mahal, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Toshi Reagon (Bernice’s daughter, named for Pete’s wife), Richie Havens, Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen and others.  I particularly loved when Bernice and Toshi sang “Oh Freedom,” and “We Shall Overcome.”  Pete himself came out several times.  At one point he led the huge audience (20,000 or so) in the most incredible rendition of Amazing Grace.  He doesn’t have much of a singing a voice now but he can still organize the most incredible energy with his banjo and his will! He got us singing with 4-part harmony, then told us the story of the song which was written by a slave ship Captain who changed his mind about slavery and became a preacher writing songs.  The story deepened the soul in the room little by little–all the while we strengthened our harmony.  It was soul stirring.  I think Pete is the greatest secular spiritualist I’ve ever known  The Garden was filled and there was so much love for Pete in the room.  Springsteen read a beautiful tribute.  It was clear how Pete’s legacy continues to be a huge inspiration to legions and I’m so grateful to be among them.  Thank-you Pete for blazing of the trail!  Music unites, inspires, activates and energizes!  Towards justice, equality, freedom for all!

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