Pete Seeger grew up believing that song has the power to change the world, and every phase of his life since has been proof of that principle. Seeger was the child of a musical family-his parents took him on the road in the late '20s and early '30s to bring music to the people. What Seeger's father learned, and taught his son, is that across the country people were making their own music, just as important as the music he hoped to bring them. And when Seeger heard the five-string banjo for the first time while on these trips, the high priest of folk music was born. In meeting Woody Guthrie, Seeger learned to sing folksongs to the unions and workers of the world. Before World War II, Seeger became a card-carrying member of the communist party, setting the stage for his inevitable blacklisting. Tracing his life through the success of The Weavers, through the blacklist years during which he was not allowed to play for anyone except children-thus creating a whole new generation of activists-on to his current-day environmental activism, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song forms a revolutionary tour de force, and a vital document of social history. Eloquently documenting this legendary artist's life and work through interviews with musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Yarrow and many more, home movies and rich archival footage, director Jim Brown tells the story of the American 20th century. Brown creates a moving portrait of this admirable, charming and astounding man with a message of hope that perfectly represents its subject.
Director's Statement Collapse
For me, Pete Seeger has been one of the most important voices and influential musicians in America. He got a whole generation interested in playing guitar and banjo, got them singing together, and helped introduce America to its own folk heritage, while using music as an instrument for social change.
For a brief period, Pete was a member of the American Communist Party and used music to organize labor unions. Subsequently, he was blacklisted. While Pete sang about unions, civil rights, the environment and peace, the government tried to censor him. He was kept off commercial television for 17 years. In addition, his concerts were often picketed. He never backed down and always stood by his beliefs.
Pete Seeger's ethics are pure. He believes that everyone is equal. He is an American patriot who built his own log cabin and lives simply in the woods. Pete has a complete distrust of commercial forces, pop culture, technology, greed, fame and the corporate and military influences on democracy. He hates the word career, and has no interest in personal gain, shuns publicity and works tirelessly with his wife, Toshi, because he believes we are blindly destroying the world. He might be right. There are lessons to be learned by exploring his life and music.
About the Director(s)Collapse
Three-time Emmy Award-winning producer/director JIM BROWN is responsible for some of the most popular and critically acclaimed television documentary programs in the last two decades. He heads Jim Brown Productions, LLC and Ginger Group Productions, Inc., film and television production companies that specialize in cultural and social documentaries, concerts, home videos, CDs, and electronic press kits, and have produced award-winning television programs for ABC, Fox, the Disney Channel, Showtime, PBS, Nickelodeon, and Bravo, among others. Currently, Brown is producing and directing a biographical documentary for theatrical release on world-renowned actor/musician/ political activist Harry Belafonte.