Now entering her 80th year, Peggy's family connections are well-known in folk and classical music circles.
She is Pete Seeger's half-sister, Ruth Crawford Seeger's daughter; partner to Ewan MacColl, who wrote First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for her and with whom she had three children. She is known for her evocative renditions of Anglo-American folksongs and for her activist song-writing, especially in the field of feminism. Her best-known songs are ‘Gonna Be an Engineer’ and ‘The Ballad of Springhill’(the latter rapidly becoming regarded as a traditional song).
The MacColl-Seeger work was seminal. From 1959 onward, they encouraged and set standards for the burgeoning UK folk revival; they trawled the USA & UK field recordings and anthologies for little-known traditional songs; they trained other singers and involved them in political-musical documentary theatre; they instigated the revolutionary Radio Ballad form. Their work was halted by Ewan's death in 1989.
“This sparky woman has done so much, lived so much, crammed so much into her life. Most of all, she has informed our appreciation of British and North American folk music, like very, very few people have. Then factor in her multiple roles in illuminating the folk, political song and feminist scenes and how her songs have enriched the folk idiom, and you have somebody worth getting amazed about.” Ken Hunt, FRoots Magazine
Following Ewan’s death she formed a personal and professional partnership with Irish traditional singer Irene Pyper-Scott, with whom she is now in a civil partnership. After 35 years in England, Peggy returned to the USA in 1994 and settled in Asheville, North Carolina, later moving to Boston in 2006 to take up a teaching job at North Eastern University. She moved back to England (Oxford) in 2010 and she and Irene now divide their time between the UK and New Zealand. Peggy still tours in the UK and the USA as a solo concert artist, singing and giving workshops.
A singer and multi-instrumentalist, she is considered to be one of North America's finest female folksingers.
".... It was great to see you live, for the wonderful range of music, but also for the pleasure of seeing a woman who is so clearly at ease in her own skin. You were funny, smart, feisty, warm and wise, and managed to be very assertive without getting anyone offside, and very intelligent without making anyone feel stupid." Siobhan McHugh, Sidney, Australia
Some Peggy Seeger facts:
- She made her first record at the age of 18, releasing records in every decade since the 50s
- She was one of the first touring musicians to work in China and the Soviet Union
- She plays 7 instruments professionally but she can’t play the fiddle
- The 7 part radio series about her life, made by BBC producer Jim Lloyd, won a Sony Silver award in 1995
- She has made 22 of her own albums and contributed to well over 100 recordings by other musicians
- She is the ‘face’ of First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
- With Ewan MacColl, she ran the controversial London Critics Group
- She was step-mother to the late lamented Kirsty MacColl
- In 2005 she performed & recorded a sold-out concert with distinguished musical guests, including her brothers Pete and Mike, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London to celebrate her 70th birthday
- In 2011 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Salford University
- In 2012 she collaborated with experimental producer Broadcaster on ‘Folksploitation’, an remarkable album of her songs set to dub, funk & techno beats that brought her to the attention of a whole new genre of music fans.
“Excellent! I love this!” Janice Long, BBC Radio 2
“It's got under my skin and I think it's utterly beautiful” Dave Gorman, Absolute Radio
“Thrilling contemporary takes on old folk themes” Daily Mirror
“There’s a burgeoning Scottish tradition of roots remixing … but it’s rarely done as smoothly as Folksploitation” 4 stars, i Newspaper (The Independent)
“Every track is awesome and for once I don’t hesitate to use that word. Folksploitation is a masterpiece.” Indie Showcase
“This is sublime….. Seeger seems to be singing to us from the end of time itself.” Spiral Earth
“A triumph for this redoubtable singer’s capacity to push the boundaries and make her listeners think again.” Cry Me A Torch Song
Peggy Seeger’s new album, ‘Everything Changes’ will be released in September 2014.