On his latest studio album, ‘Tomorrow’s Children’ out July 27 on Appleseed Recordings, the indomitable Pete Seeger continues his life’s work of communication and inspiration to action. The new album is the first new studio recordings by the iconic folksinger and political activist since his 2008 Grammy-winning album ‘At 89,’ and it’s like a joyful town picnic. It features 91-year-old Pete as a (global) village elder, assembling his neighbors to appreciate their past and present, to celebrate their triumphs against environmental threats, to swap old and new stories, to appreciate the natural glories surrounding them and to make sure that the following generations “carry it on.”
When Beacon, NY, fourth-grade teacher Tery Udell began teaching her students about the Hudson River, class sessions became songfests, and where there are songs, there’s Pete Seeger. He became a regular visitor to the kids’ classroom in 2007. The classroom gatherings and performances inevitably led to a series of recordings by Pete, Clearwater educator and singer Dan Einbender, musician and CD co-producer (with Dan) David Bernz, the children (known as “The Rivertown Kids”), as well as adult musicians, high schoolers and even 14 grammar school percussion students. The 19 newly recorded songs on ‘Tomorrow’s Children,’ testify to Seeger’s long-held credo, “Think globally, act locally.”
Pete is on every track of the CD, singing, storytelling, playing banjo and 12-string guitar, but he shares the studio spotlight with all of his guests. Their voices, instruments and the songs they have adopted or adapted are woven into a colorful quilt depicting our nation’s history (“Take It from Dr. King,” the tribute to Pete’s fellow civil rights warrior performed on the “Late Night with David Letterman” show; “I See Freedom,” the true story of a runaway slave who settled in Beacon); the possibilities of an ecologically clean world (the newly co-written Seeger song “Solartopia” featuring guest vocalist Dar Williams), and the natural beauty worth preserving (“Down by the River,” “The River that Flows Both Ways,” and others).
Perhaps most importantly, ‘Tomorrow’s Children’ contains songs of empowerment and cooperation adapted or written by the kids themselves such as “We Sing Out” (“…so our voices can be heard,” with a melody borrowed from Tom Paxton), an updated version of the old gospel and union song, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and a set of new verses to Seeger’s Biblically-inspired standard, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” added for the children by Pete’s wife of more than 60 years, Toshi.