"The Weavers are out of the grassroots of America. I
salute them for their great work in authentic renditions of ballads, folk songs,
ditties, nice antiques of word and melody. When I hear America singing, The
Weavers are there."
Folk Music Archives interviewed Pete Seeger on September 22, 1999 and July
20, 2000. Freddie Hellerman was interviewed on February, 2, 2000.
In 1949 the
group was ready to break up, but several months later the song "Goodnight
Irene" hit the charts selling two million copies on Decca Records. "Tzena
Tzena" was on the flip side.
The words and music by Huddie Ledbetter and John Lomax - - When FMA asked Pete Seeger about Leadbetter he said, "Leadbelly was King of the Twelve-String Guitar . . . we played with him and learned many songs."
Gilbert was the female vocalist since 1947. At the age of 12 Ronnie began
appearing on radio and according to the Classics Record Library "by
then she knew hundreds of songs." During her teens she sang with
choral groups and various vocal ensembles, and according to Ronnie "that
was my most valuable musical training."
While America was listening to juke box hits, Senator McCarthy was at work in Washington, D.C. The Weavers commercial success was brought down by the McCarthy era "blacklisting." They managed to surpass this misfortune and their work provided the platform and artistic freedom for groups like The Kingston Trio. In Folk Music Archives' interview with Peter, Paul & Mary , Mary Travers said, "we were very much The Weavers' children."
Nick Reynolds, founding member of The Kingston Trio said during two recent interviews [San Antonio, Texas and New York City] with FMA, "we had to be very careful when we began in 1958 - - - we didn't want to get caught up in the McCarthy blacklisting, like The Weavers - - songs like MTA were protest songs!" Archival Note: When Pete Seeger originally recorded the song in the 1950's, radio stations wouldn't play it because George O' Brian was a Socialist Mayor in Boston? Bob Shane of the Trio said, "because of blacklisting , . . . we changed the name to "O' Ryan." Nick Reynolds added, "and it became one of our biggest hits." During The Kingston Trio interview, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane talk frankly about the blacklisting period and how The Weavers paved the way for the threesome in 1958, as well as other folk singers and groups of the late 50's and 60's.
All interviews are recorded and are archived at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.
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