NEWPORT, RI — Pete Seeger, the banjo-playing folksinger whose music was intertwined with his social activism, was honored Thursday as the latest American musician to appear on a U.S. postage stamp.
The forever stamp, which features a color-tinted black-and-white photograph taken in the early 1960s showing Seeger in profile singing and playing his five-string banjo, went on sale at post offices nationwide, according to a spokesperson for the US Postal Service. .
A special ceremony was planned for the evening in Newport, Rhode Island, the site of the Newport Folk Festival, where Seeger was a performer and for a time a board member. This year’s three-day festival begins on Friday.
“It is an honor to see a photo of my father that I took 60 years ago become this wonderful stamp forever,” his son, Dan Seeger, said in a statement. “My father did most of his correspondence by hand – written letters – and I can imagine him smiling and of course enjoying this great honor as he relied on the American mail with his simplicity and honesty, knowing that thoughts and ideas can travel from the sender over an enormous expanse to a single receiver and be delivered.
Seeger, a Harvard dropout who died in 2014 at age 94, wrote or co-wrote “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He is also credited with popularizing “We Shall Overcome”, an anthem of the civil rights movement.
“He was not only a champion of traditional American music, he was also celebrated as a unifying power by promoting various causes, such as civil rights, workers’ rights, social justice, the peace movement and the environmental protection,” said Tom. Foti, Vice President of Postal Service Product Solutions.
While Seeger, a lifelong activist, was exiled from commercial aerial games in the 1950s and 1960s after appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his communist affiliations, his career never slowed and he continued to record and turn.
He has won multiple Grammy Awards, been inducted into the Songwriter and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, and won the National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honors.
He remained an activist well into his life – marching through the streets of Manhattan leading an Occupy protest in 2011.
Seeger joins a long list of musical artists to appear on a US postage stamp, including Elvis Presley, Thelonious Monk, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra.
Seeger stamps are sold in flaps of 16 resembling a vintage 45 rpm record cover, depending on the Postal Service. The stamp and flap were designed by Antonio Alcalá and the photography was tinted by Kristen Monthei.
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