Folk icon and civil rights activist Pete Seeger – who popularized songs like “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song),” “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “We Shall Overcome” – died at age 94 in January, less than a year after his wife Toshi passed away. As a tribute to the couple, New York’s Lincoln Center has assembled a star-studded Memorial Concert for Pete and Toshi Seeger, streaming live here at 4 p.m. EST, as part of Seeger Fest and the festival Lincoln Center Out of Doors. The concert will feature commentary and behind-the-scenes footage between performances, as well as a global sing-along of “If I Had a Hammer” led by singer-songwriter Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary at 6 p.m. EST.
The couple’s grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson, organized a lineup that includes singer-songwriters Judy Collins and Holly Near and collaborations between Dar Williams and Dan Zanes, Tom Chapin and the Chapin Sisters, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and more. Speakers at the event include Harry Belafonte, Seeger’s Weavers bandmate Fred Hellerman and jazz producer George Wein.
As the diverse lineup for the concert shows, Seeger’s influence stretched far beyond the folk world, influencing musicians ranging from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen. The latter artist recorded an album of Seeger songs, We Shall Overcome, in 2006, and in January, Springsteen paid tribute by dedicating “We Shall Overcome” to the folk legend at a concert in South Africa.
“I looked at Pete, the first black President of the United States was seated to his right and I thought of the incredible journey that Pete had taken,” Springsteen said at Seeger’s 90th birthday concert in 2009. “My own growing up in the Sixties in a town scarred by race rioting, made that moment nearly unbelievable and Pete had 30 extra years of struggle and real activism on his belt, he was so happy that day, it was like ‘Pete, you outlasted the bastards.'”