Where Has the Singing Gone?
Pete Seeger was a musician with a dream.
On his way back from serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II, his eyes gleamed brightly and his mind raced with an uplifting idea. A stronger and more mature singer and leader than he was before the war, Seeger planned on making history through what he knew best: music. He yearned for unity and peace in the world and believed those ideals could be achieved by singing any chance he could get.
In Seeger’s ideal world, any person, no matter their background, should not be afraid to speak freely. Though the United States Constitution assures a “freedom of speech”, Seeger did not feel as if the United States, at the time, promised that essential freedom. To achieve his dream, Seeger, with the help of other folk artists like Alan Lomax and Lee Hays (who was also in the band The Almanacs with Seeger), started a folk singing organization with the aforementioned goal in mind: People’s Songs.
Like any successful grassroots movement, the power behind spreading the news by word of mouth was essential. Seeger quickly told folk peers about his idea of starting a movement through singing and sharing songs. Almost immediately, Seeger began planning meetings with folk singers, labor representatives, and others in hopes to raise money and awareness for shows and performances.
Seeger’s friends and fellow musicians were excited with his dream; they were in. People’s Songs officially began on New Year’s Eve 1945, with Pete Seeger as president and co-founder Lee Hays as vice-president. They soon realized the organization needed something more concrete to show people. Seeger and the rest of People’s Songs needed an outlet to provide its members — People’s Songs Bulletin was created to be that outlet. Although its lifespan was short, its impact on the folk scene and music — along with the social change coming to the United States — is monumental.