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Sing Out reports:

Toshi-Aline Ohta Seeger, wife of folk music icon Pete Seeger, passed away overnight on Tuesday, July 9th. She was a mother, an organizer, an activist and filmmaker … and an essential part of all of her husband’s work. She was 91.

Condolences to Pete Seeger, to their children and grandchildren, to all Seegers (may their clan increase!), and to all of us who have felt Toshi Seeger's gentle influence, whether close-up or at any remove.

From an interview with Toshi:

Toshi insisted she has no talent, that she doesn’t sing or dance, she only does housework. A friend at the table who worked with her for decades, and Tinya, her daughter, urged her to take credit for Clearwater, both the sloop and, perhaps more importantly, the Festival (officially known as the Great Hudson River Revival) which has been filling the air with folk music since the 60s.

One talent: She was the key programmer for the Festival. Because she was friends with the people who organized the Folk Life Festival in D.C. and was close friends with George and Joyce Wein, organizers of the Newport Folk Festival where she was a member of the board, Toshi often knew about performers long before they were on most people’s radar, even before most of the members of the Festival planning committee had heard of, say, Tracy Chapman. Clearwater may have paid poorly, but performers came because of Toshi; she was the one who pulled it all together.

Another talent: She was the navigator for the Clearwater voyages. Toshi had learned to sail with her family, way before Pete took it up; she taught him how to sail. Pete joined us and warmly underscored this role: “She was the one who steered the boat; she had the chart; she kept us off the rocks.” Without the Clearwater voyages, which called attention to the contaminants that were killing the Hudson, the river might still be poisoned with PCBs.


From an obituary in the Poughkeepsie Journal:
Jeff Rumpf, executive director of Clearwater, said her death is "a huge loss for Clearwater and the world.

"Toshi is a real mother, a mother for social justice, a mother for festivals all over the world and people singing," he said. "She is a mother that embodies all the spirit your own mother does and spreads it out over the community. We're really going to miss Toshi."

Rump said Toshi played a pivotal role in the success of the annual Clearwater festival, which was held last month at Croton-Point Park in Westchester County. More than 15,000 people attended the festival and there were more than 1,000 volunteers. She was heavily involved in logistics and cooked for hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.

"She pushed for the festival being a cause not a concert," he said. "She made the festival happen. She is the mother of the festival.

"The most important thing for her was making sure the music represented as much diversity as possible," Rumpf said. "She was always looking for people to open their minds."

Please add your thoughts, prayers (if you're a believer), memories and songs in the comments.

Toshi-Aline Ohta Seeger, Requiescat in pace.

Originally posted to WarrenS' Blog on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 05:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Rebel Songwriters and Protest Music.

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