Emmylou Harris on Pete Seeger: ‘He Was the Godfather of This Music’
The music community is still mourning the loss of folk music legend Pete Seeger, who passed away on Jan. 27 at the age of 94. But perhaps no one is feeling the loss as profoundly as Emmylou Harris, who credits Seeger with helping to shape her own legendary career.
“He was exactly like you thought he’d be from his music,” she tells Nashville's Tennessean. “He was the godfather of this music, and he oversaw all of it benevolently. Music to him was a means to connect us all, through the joy of singing.”
The 66-year-old first contacted Seeger 50 years ago, when she was only 16 years old, and aspiring to follow his musical path. Harris wrote him a six page letter, worrying that she hadn't experienced enough personal angst to pour enough emotion into her own songs.
“He wrote me back and told me in a very gentle way not to worry about life experience and suffering, that it would come my way,” she recalls.
Clearly, Seeger was correct. The two formed a long-lasting friendship that continued until his death.
Harris isn't the only artist who credits Seeger with being influential in their career. Kris Kristofferson, Nanci Griffith, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Steve Earle all say the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member left an indelible mark on their music, which is exactly what Seeger hoped to achieve.
“There’s not dozens of people now doing what I try to do, not hundreds, but literally thousands,” he said. “The idea of using music to try to get the world together is now all over the place.”