Ohta Seeger was an activist and organizer and has long been credited as a foundational figure in her husband’s success.
“Without Toshi’s counsel and support, and always outspoken and direct opinions, it’s clear to anyone who ever met these two remarkable people that, without Toshi, Pete would never have had the foundation and freedom to do the work that made him so legendary,” said Sing Out, a magazine she and Seeger helped cofound in 1950.
She was born in Munich to an American mother and Japanese father, and the family relocated to the U.S. before her first birthday. She grew up in New York, where she met Seeger, and the couple married in 1943 when she was 21.
Ohta Seeger was a woman of influence who played a key programming role for the Great Hudson River Revival. She was aware of talented artists “long before they were on most people‘s radar, even before most of the members of the Festival planning committee had heard of, say, Tracy Chapman,“ said Persimmon Tree’s Sue Leonard.
She was also involved in film. Her 1966 film “Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison“ is based on prisoners chopping trees and singing their traditional songs; it is in the Library of Congress archives.
Ohta Seeger died on July 9th, nine days short of what would have been hers and Seeger’s 70th wedding anniversary.