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Peggy Seeger

The half-sister of Pete Seeger and the widow of Ewan MacColl, singer/songwriter Peggy Seeger continued her family's long history of championing and preserving traditional music, most notably emerging as a seminal figure in the British folk song revival of the 1960s. Born June 17, 1935, in New York City, her mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was herself an influential composer and folklorist, as well as the first woman ever awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship Award for Music, while her father, Charles Louis Seeger, was a pioneering ethnomusicologist and the inventor of the melograph, an electronic musical notation instrument. Raised in the company of brothers Pete (widely hailed as the father of the American folk revival of the postwar era) and Mike (also a noted recording artist and the leader of the New Lost City Ramblers), Peggy began playing the piano at the age of seven, and within a few years began transcribing pieces of music. In the years to follow she also learned to play guitar, five-string banjo, autoharp, Appalachian dulcimer, and English concertina, later majoring in music at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA; there she first began performing professionally.

In 1955, Seeger continued her studies in the Netherlands, later traveling throughout much of Europe and even into Africa; that same year, she issued the Folkways 10" Folksongs of Courting and Complaint. In 1959 she settled in London, where she became involved with MacColl, the famed British musician and playwright. In the decades that followed prior to MacColl's 1989 death, the couple toured the world singing, lecturing, and preaching the importance of the British folk song tradition, typically emphasizing the connections between roots music and sociopolitical activism. Over time, Seeger's own original songs adopted an ardently feminist slant; she and MacColl also headed the controversial London Critics Group, producing an annual political theater production titled The Festival of Fools. They also operated and regularly performed at the folk venue the Singers Club and formed their own record label, Blackthorne; most important, however, was their work with BBC producer Charles Parker in developing the radio ballad, a groundbreaking musical documentary form combining field recordings of speech and sound effects with new songs in the folk idiom and complementary instrumental accompaniment.

From the mid-'50s onward, Seeger recorded regularly, cutting both original material and traditional compositions as a solo artist and in collaboration with MacColl as well as artists including Guy Carawan, Ralph Rinzler, and siblings Mike and Penny; among her key LPs are 1961's Two-Way Trip, 1973's At the Present Moment, 1977's Penelope Isn't Waiting Anymore, and the oft-released American Folk Songs for Children, an assembly of material originally collected by her mother. Seeger's best-known original compositions include "Gonna Be an Engineer," which emerged as an anthem of the women's movement, and "The Ballad of Springhill," penned about the Nova Scotia mining disaster. Seeger also wrote music for a number of films, television programs, and radio plays. After MacColl's death, she began working with the traditional Irish singer Irene Scott under the name No Spring Chickens, and together the duo formed a record label, Golden Egg. In late 1994, Seeger moved back to the United States, some four decades after first relocating to the U.K.; a year later, she completed work on the collections The Peggy Seeger Songbook, Warts and All and The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook. Almost Commercially Viable followed in fall 2000. In 2003 Seeger released Heading for Home, the first of three volumes of recordings made with her two sons, Calum and Neill MacColl, in a cottage in rural England. The other two, Love Call Me Home and Bring Me Home, were released in 2005 and 2008, respectively. A live album in honor of Seeger's 70th birthday, Three Score and Ten, arrived in 2007. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Live

1. Moonlight Sonata (Spoken Word) (Live)

2. I Been A Bad Bad Girl (Live)

3. Make Love Not War (Spoken Word) (Live)

4. Mountaineer's Courtship (Live)

5. Everyone Knows (Live)

6. Country Blues (Live)

7. I'm Gonna Be An Engineer (Live)

8. For A Job (Live)

9. How To Impress A Woman (Spoken Word) (Live)

10. You Don't Know How Lucky You Are (Live)

11. The Deterrence Lullaby (Live)

12. Eagle And Condom (Spoken Word) (Live)

13. Bought Me A Cat (Live)

14. Fatal Flower Garden (Live)

15. About Missing (Spoken Word) (Live)

16. Missing (Live)

17. Sally Goodin/Sourwood Mountain (Live)

18. The Personals (Spoken Word) (Live)

19. Loving Hannah (Live)

20. Give 'Em An Inch (Live)

21. My Mother Is Younger Than Me (Spoken Word) (Live)

22. Everything Changes (Live)

23. Call Me Black (Spoken Word) (Live)

x

Track List: Bring Me Home

1. Peacock Street

2. Hang Me

3. Wagoner's Lead

4. Napoleon

5. Molly Band

6. Roving Gambler

7. Newlyn Town

8. Dink's Song

9. Little Birdie

10. Let Them Wear Their Watches Fine

11. O The Wind And Rain

12. Home, Dearie, Home

13. Bring Me Home

x

Track List: Three Score And Ten

Disc 1

1. Introduction (Live)

2. Hangman (Live)

3. Fiddling Soldier (Live)

4. Logan County Jail (Live)

5. Che Guevara (Live)

6. Lowlands Of Holland (Live)

7. Different Therefore Equal (Live)

8. Caveman (Live)

9. Humours Of Bandon (Live)

10. Home Sweet Home (Live)

11. Darling Annie (Live)

12. If You Want A Better Life (Live)

Disc 2

1. Poem For Ewan (Live)

2. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Live)

3. I Am Ill With Love (Live)

4. So Long Since I Been Home (Live)

5. My Mother Is Younger Than Me (Live)

6. When First Unto This Country (Live)

7. Soldier's Farewell (Live)

8. Quill Ditty (Live)

9. Cindy (Live)

10. English Is Cuh-Ray-Zee (Live)

11. Take It From Dr. King (Live)

12. Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Live)

13. Gonna Be An Engineer (Live)

14. Carless Love (Live)

15. Sing About These Hard Times (Live)

16. Love Call Me Home (Live)

x

Track List: Love Call Me Home

1. Sing About These Hard Times

2. Poor Ellen Smith

3. Hangman

4. Careless Love

5. Love Is Teasing

6. Rynerdine

7. London Bridge

8. Loving Hannah

9. Bad Bad Girl

10. Logan County Jail

11. Who Killed C**k Robin?

12. Love Call Me Home

x

Track List: Heading For Home

1. Heading For Home

2. Country Blues

3. Jackie Rover

4. Dear Companion

5. Oma Wise

6. John Gilbert Is The Boat

7. John Riley

8. Soldier's Farewell

9. Jenny's Gone Away

10. Generous Lover

11. Henry Lee

12. Fatal Flower Garden

13. Girl Of Constant Sorrow

x

Track List: Love Will Linger On

1. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

2. Autumn Wedding

3. Down By The Flowing River

4. Mysterious Lover

5. My Joy To You

6. Fiddling Soldier

7. Swallow And Trout

8. Love Affair

9. Love Will Linger On

10. Primrose Hill

11. The Dog Of Time

12. Call On Your Name

13. Birds Of A Feather

x

Track List: Folkways Years 1955-1992 Songs of Love & Politics

1. Pretty Saro

2. Lady, What Do You All Day? (Live)

3. Broomfield Hill

4. The Squire And The Colic

5. Jellon Graeme

6. Going To The West

7. Jane Jane

8. When I Was Single

9. The Wedding Dress Song

10. Freight Train Blues

11. Song Of Myself

12. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

13. My Son

14. Song For Calum

15. Little Girl Child

16. Gonna Be An Engineer

17. Song Of Choice

18. Talking Wheelchair Blues

19. Nobody Knew She Was There (Live)

20. Thoughts Of Time

21. Garden Of Flowers

x

Track List: From Where I Stand: Topical Songs From America And England

1. Up In Wisconsin

2. Draglines

3. Voices From The Mountains

4. Please Mr. Reagan

5. Grape Pickers Tragedy

6. Take The Children And Run

7. Third Shift

8. Cargo Of Dread

9. Black Lung

10. Taft-Hartley

11. Aragon Mill

12. Agent Orange

13. Enough Is Enough

14. Thoughts Of Time

x

Track List: Different Therefore Equal

1. What Do You Do All Day?

2. Different Therefore Equal

3. Nine Month Blues

4. Little Girl Child

5. Reclaim The Night

6. Winnie And Sam

7. I'm Gonna Be An Engineer

8. Union Woman

9. Talking Matrimony Blues

10. Love For Love

x

Track List: Songs Of Courting And Complaint

1. Whistle, Daughter, Whistle

2. When I Was Single

3. House Carpenter

4. When First Unto This Country A Stranger I Came

5. All Of Her Answers Were No

6. The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn

7. The Wagoner's Lad

8. Long Lonesome Road

9. The Butcher Boy

10. The Old Maid's Song

11. Katy Cruel

12. Leatherwing Bat

Comments

Report as inappropriate
A tribute and inspiration for women (and men) everywhere. Peace and social justice are sorely needed throughout the world. One can only hope to give as long and as much, with so much energy. We don't agree on every topic, but civility is paramount. Blessings always to those who care, are far from bigotry, and live like (fictional) Jayber Crow...a book by Wendell Berry, and good one at that!!! Oh yes, her music thus far is good. Anxious to hear more. Blessings.
Report as inappropriate
I'm in my 20s and love folk/rock/bl u e s music and have never heard of Peggy until today. I like her, she's got a simple, straightforw a r d quality. Paints a picture.
Report as inappropriate
One of the female voices all young and aspiring artists should listen to.
Seeing Peggy live is one of the treats of my life (In Melbourne Australia in 1978 with Ewan MacColl.)


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