"I am devastated to learn of Pete Seeger's passing tonight. I feel blessed and honored that I got to know him and talk to him on a couple of occasions in New York City. He was one of the first names I ever heard associated with the banjo, and once I heard him play, there was no turning back for me. I was hooked! He was a great musician, activist, and all-around human being. I first met Pete in the summer of 2011, when he was at Bryant Park giving a lecture, then singing and playing his banjo. When it was time for him to sing, the sound system abruptly went out, and instead of fussing, he immediately started using the method of communication that the Occupy Wall Street organizers had implemented in their gatherings. He sang a lyric to the first row, and had them sing it back to him, then he sang it again louder, and at last everyone joined in. It was an incredible event to witness, that this elderly man was still as active and vivid as ever, well into his 90s. The second time I met him was at the National Museum of the American Indian, where he sat along with Native American Elders in an open forum discussing how they were going to raise awareness to save and clean up the Hudson River. At the end of the forum, he stood up and began singing songs a cappella and had the audience sing back to him in a call and response mode. It was amazing that he actually knew traditional Native songs! Once he started singing, everyone joined in. Not one person in the room sat quietly. I got to speak with him afterward and I was so excited to hear him discuss his passion for music, civil rights, environmental issues, and so much more. He was always eager to not only share but to get everyone involved in sharing. That was the real joy of Pete Seeger: He didn't want to be the star, he wanted everyone to feel like they mattered and had a voice. Tonight, I was lucky enough to be attending a bluegrass jam session and playing some fine folk tunes on my banjo, unbeknownst of his passing. I think this is what he would have wanted; that music and life continue, regardless of his presence. But the sadness lingers heavily in my heart, and there are no words to describe the sorrow I feel that he is gone. "
January 27, 2014
"Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary." - J.M. Barrie