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Written by Si Kahn

I think it’s very important that Toshi Seeger and her critical role in Pete’s life and work not be forgotten. Here is the tribute to Toshi I wrote shortly after her death at the request of Folker, the German folk and roots music magazine. They’ve given me permission to have it reprinted and posted as long as they’re properly credited. It appeared in their August 2013 issue.


It is no coincidence that Toshi Seeger loved to garden. Gardening is an act of extreme faith, as well as an extraordinary amount of hard work. There as nothing about a seed that suggests it will some day become a cucumber, a crook necked squash, a sunflower, a strawberry. Stuck carelessly in the ground and neglected, seeds survive only through the hard luck of the draw.

Nurtured, nourished and loved, they flourish and, in the best of worlds, bear rich fruit. Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival was just one of the many seeds Toshi helped plant and nurture. In a sense, it embodied, quite literally, the balance in Toshi’s and Pete’s partnership over many years. Pete made sure that lungs inhaled air and exhaled songs, that hearts were lifted and minds inspired, hopefully to act against injustice.

Toshi, no less political or visionary, made sure that stomachs were filled, that electricity arrived at spotlights and amplifiers, that budding folksingers didn’t injure themselves by tripping over carelessly discarded garbage in the dark.

A sophisticated political activist, she led by example, from the back of the crowd. Legendary for her ability to work long, hard hours, she only asked others to do what she was willing to do herself .

Toshi had extraordinary self-discipline, and expected but never absolutely required a level of hard work and commitment from others. She was strict when she needed to be, critical when tough love was required, funny when only humor could break the ice of political or musical conflict.

If our beloved community of socially conscious musicians and music lovers has flourished and grown tall, it is at least in part because, over the course of a long, good life, Toshi Seeger tended us all.


Copyright 2013 by Joe Hill Music LLC. All rights reserved.

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