Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Family, Friends and Musicians Honor Folk Legend Pete Seeger at Five-Day Fest

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The city is celebrating the late folk music legend Pete Seeger now through Monday in a festival spanning Manhattan and the Bronx. And who better to organize it than his grandson and the daughter of another famous entertainer and activist? NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

Pete Seeger was an folk music legend, and his death touched music lovers and activists around the world. For his own family, the loss was of course much more personal. Still, grandson Kitama Cahill-Jackson felt a public celebration was most fitting.

"When my grandfather, Pete Seeger, died in January, I was like, 'I want to figure out a way to honor him and a way to honor his life.' And I felt that a one kind of a regular three-hour memorial just wasn’t, I couldn’t encompass every part of his life,” said Cahill-Jackson.

So Cahill-Jackson organized a five-day festival which includes performances by the biggest names in folk music, plus tributes, film screenings and photography. To help organize this massive undertaking, Kitama turned to longtime friend Gina Belafonte, daughter of Harry Belafonte. Belafonte and Seeger were close friends and also iconic figures in music and activism. He'll speak at the memorial concert at Lincoln Center on Sunday.

"There aren’t many people in the world that can bring all these different genres together in a common way and it all be about love and peace and harmony and the greater good,” said Belafonte.

While Pete Seeger is of course synonymous with folk music, at Seeger Fest, folk music is not a genre, it's a state of mind.

"When I say ‘folk’, I put it in quotations because to me folk music is almost any music with a moral content attached to it, even if it’s a love song,” said Belafonte.

Gina and Kitama are co-hosting the finale event Monday night in Central park. It's called "New Songs of Justice."

"Traditional folk music, indie rock and punk bands, world music and hip hop genres of the new voices of 'folk,' as we call it,” Belafonte said.

For the complete schedule, go to www.seegerfest.org.

For information on Gina Belafonte's organization, go to http://www.sankofa.org.

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