COLUMBIA — Mid-Missouri musician Lee Ruth does not see the death of the great Pete Seeger as the death of folk music but as the end of an era.
Seeger, a singer-songwriter and activist who championed folk music since the 1940s, died Monday at age 94.
"I'm not going to miss him," Ruth said, "because he is still alive in my mind."
Before Seeger, Ruth said, the idea of being a professional folk singer was all but unheard of. But Seeger's group the Weavers made folk commercially successful with songs such as "Goodnight, Irene" by Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter.
Seeger toured around the world with the Weavers and later in life as a solo act, always bringing news songs back with him, Ruth said.
Seeger's music "opened my ears to lots of musical possibilities," Ruth said. "I think the first folk music I ever heard were Weavers records."
Although he was never able to meet Seeger or see him perform, he greatly admired his work as a musician, particularly for singing uplifting songs. A few of his favorite Seeger songs are "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Turn, Turn, Turn," and "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)."
Ruth also admired Seeger's work as an activist. Seeger was outspoken in opposing the McCarthy era and the questioning of people based on their beliefs.
"Whatever he was doing," Ruth said, "it was heartfelt and had the best intentions in mind for the world and the human family."
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