Union Songs

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

The new documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song offers an engrossing portrait of one of the towering figures in the history of both American music and the American protest movement.

In this video, director Jim Brown talks about Seeger's legacy and making the film.


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. 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—he learned from his father that across the country people were making their own music, just as important as the music the Seegers hoped to bring them.

And when Pete 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 not only of a great musician, but 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.

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