One of the most revered musicians and composers of the 20th Century also commands a tremendous amount of respect and admiration in the world of children's music. Here's a little of his history and a few tidbits about his influence on music for kids.
His Early Life:
Seeger was born into an incredibly talented family. His father was a musicologist and an early researcher of non-Western music, and his mother was a prominent classical violinist. His stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was one of the most significant female composers of the 20th century, as well as being an American folk music specialist.
This musical background set the stage for Seeger's career, as he discovered the 5-string banjo at the Folk Song and Dance Festival in Asheville, North Carolina in 1936, and landed a job at the Archives of American Folk Music in New York City in 1938.
His Early Career:
Many historians mark March 3, 1940, as the beginning of modern folk music, when Seeger met Woody Guthrie at a migrant workers benefit concert. Seeger and Guthrie went on to form The Weavers, another musical outlet for both of these prolific and intensely political singers.
In 1950 Seeger formed the highly successful Almanac Singers with Lee Hays, with whom he had co-written the classic "If I Had a Hammer." The group's success was sidetracked by entertainment industry blacklisting for their involvement in pro labor and Communist groups.
Music for Children:
The 1950s, though, saw Seeger's entry into the children's music field with the release of Folkway's Songs to Grow On series in 1951. Seeger, along with artists like Cisco Houston, Charity Bailey, and Leadbelly, contributed various folk songs familiar to children and families.
One of the most important albums in the history of children's music, Seeger's American Folk Songs for Children, was released by Folkways in 1953. The collection contained folk, activity, and story songs that were on the verge of being forgotten by the general public, only to be rescued by Seeger's voice and banjo.