Friends Remember Toshi Seeger

Jul 11, 2013

Toshi Seeger
Credit courtesy of Clearwater

Toshi Seeger died Tuesday at the age of 91. The wife of folk music legend Peter Seeger is being remembered as an activist, filmmaker, and a woman with a profound influence on her husband.

Hal Cohen is a founding member of Beacon-based Clearwater, an environmental organization of which Pete Seeger is also a founding member.

Cohen says she was a role model for him, and helped with such challenges like founding Clearwater.

One these examples, says Cohen, came during Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival Festival. Seeger is credited with taking the concert concept and turning it into a cause.

Folk musician Happy Traum also remembers Seeger for her role at the Clearwater Festival, and for picking up litter and urging others to do the same. In general, he says she was the power behind the scenes.

Clearwater’s Hal Cohen shares another memory about Seeger in relation to the annual Great Hudson River Revival Festival.

Banjo icon Eric Weissberg says Pete Seeger needed the influence of such a strong woman, and that Toshi Seeger was and will continue to be Pete’s protector, reining him in from doing too much.

He says his connection is really with Pete Seeger, as he took banjo lessons from him as a young boy, and purchased a house in Woodstock in the 1970s not knowing Pete Seeger had previously lived there. The connection in his family with Toshi Seeger is through his mother. He says his first memory of the Seegers was in Camp Woodland, in Ulster County’s Phoenicia, in the 1940s.

That friendship, says Weissberg, continued, even after decades of not seeing one another. He says the two reunited when he moved to Woodstock, and decades later, at a Pete Seeger concert in Woodstock.

Traum, a Woodstock resident, talks about another Toshi Seeger friendship.

Here’s Pete Seeger in an interview with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

And here he is signing about Toshi Seeger in a song once sung to her by their grandchildren on one of her birthdays. She was known as a very good cook.