On what would have been his 100th birthday, Smithsonian Folkways is releasing the definitive anthology of Pete Seeger, one of America’s most impactful artists. And today, Billboard is premiering the first never-before-heard song from the collection. Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection is a 6-CD, 200-page set that comes in a 12 by 12 inch hardbound book that will be released May 3.
Listen to “This Land Is Your Land” here: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8500077/pete-seeger-this-land-is-your-land
Often considered America’s second national anthem, the song is an iconic cultural timepiece. This newly unveiled recording by Pete includes verses from Woody Guthrie’s original song that take a more politically pointed look at the nation after the Great Depression and are often left out of recordings and performances . “Woody wrote a lot of verses that did not get into the school song books,” he says before singing one of them. Seeger goes on to say: “I think Woody would be glad to know that people are making up new verses all over,” before singing some biting lines about Native Americans and their land being taken from them.
Pete performed this version solo with his banjo in 1976 at a lecture at the University of Tulsa – and it is one of 20 unreleased/unheard songs included on Seeger.
Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection was produced by Jeff Place and Robert Santelli, the same team who produced the acclaimed box sets Woody at 100 and Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, rounding out a trilogy commemorating three of Folkways’ most iconic recording artists. Featuring photos and stories from all eras of Seeger’s life, from his first recording sessions with Folkways founder Moses Asch to performing at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, the set contextualizes the songs and provides valuable insight into the personality that created this classic music.
Smithsonian Folkways will be presenting a Pete Seeger Sing-A-Long Children’s Concert at the Brooklyn Folk Festival on April 7th featuring Emily Eagen and Chris Q. Murhpy. The label will be presenting several other Pete Seeger centennial events throughout May, June, and July, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Smithsonian Folkways is also partnering with Smithsonian Year of Music on an initiative to bring the music of Pete Seeger to communities the weekend of his birthday. On May 3th to May 5th, they are inviting musicians and music lovers around the world to congregate at a community gathering place near them (a school, university campus, a labor center, hospital, detention center, public square, park, playground, etc.) and perform your favorite Pete Seeger songs. Participants should upload photos and videos of their events to their social media pages, using the hashtag #spiritofseeger. Smithsonian Folkways will collect these images and videos, and share with the rest of the world.
Pre-Order the collection here: https://folkways.si.edu/pete-seeger/the-smithsonian-folkways-collection