My parents gave me an LP when I was about 12 years old, The Weavers at Carnegie Hall.The songs and spirit of this album formed my social conscience and inspired my commitment to singing and music.
It was the defining experience of t my life as the voices of Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, Erik Darling ,Frank Hamilton, Bernie Krause and Ronnie Gilbert touched my heart from the family radiogram.
Last year I grieved the passing of Pete Seeger who will always be one of my life mentors and heroes. Today the very first item on my Facebook feed was from Pete’s grandson announcing the passing of Ronnie Gilbert.
The tears I weep are for the loss of an inspirational and talented woman as well as a voice that sang of life, passion, justice and human rights.Rest in the songs of life Ronnie Gilbert. Your voice for justice will live on in the recordings you made and in those who will carry your passion for justice and music to a new generation. Farewell great lady,may the angels sing you home to paradise.
I heard of Ronnie’s death via a Facebook message:
Kitama here, Pete & Toshi Seeger’s grandson.
If there is a heaven – Grandpa (Pete) and Lee Hays were there last night welcoming Ronnie Gilbert in with open arms. They probably sang all through the night together. Of all the people my Grandpa knew and worked with I always felt that Ronnie Gilbert shared my Grandpa’s vision of unwavering activism and took on new issues as she got older as times called for them in a way that very few others did.
Just as Grandpa took on the environmental movement, she became a champion in the women’s rights movement. They saw how all movements are connected and how you cannot be a champion of one without being a supporter of another.
The NYT wrote a great obit on Ronnie. But, before reading that, I’d like you to take a look at this concert from 1980 where the Weavers had a reunion concert at Carnegie Hall. FYI, Ronnie was a founding member of The Weavers with Grandpa, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays.
Ronnie Gilbert will be missed and my heart goes out to her family.