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The Spirit of Pete Seeger Returns to Shadyside

Anthony Pepitone

Musician and activist Pete Seeger filled his audiences with enthusiasm and hope. He is best remembered for his dedication to the American spirit with songs that continue to influence musicians today.

Seeger passed away this past January, but the First Unitarian Church in Shadyside will hold a Pete Seeger Tribute concert on Saturday to celebrate what would have been his 95th birthday.

Tribute coordinator Ginny Hildebrand says the church invited Seeger to perform in 1962, during the height of the "red scare," after being rejected from other Pittsburgh venues for being too “radical.”  

Seeger often visited and sang about Pittsburgh. He gave performances at local union headquarters, and outdoors at Point State Park. Musician Mike Stout performed with Seeger and says he was a truly genuine artist.

“He was the real thing. He wasn’t in it for the money, he was in it for the cause. He was in it to enlighten people about the truth and to arouse them, to inspire them, to get them to not only understand the truth about the cause he was singing about, but to stand up and do something about it.”

Seeger’s controversial songs often conflicted with the strict anti-communist zeitgeist of the 1960’s. Yet Stout says Seeger held tight to his first amendment rights and refused to succumb to the red scare tactics that stifled the voices of many activists.

Seeger won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1993 and performed at President Obama’s inaugural celebration in 2008.

The Pete Seeger Tribute concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Shadyside.

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