Pete Seeger, the man who taught several generations how to sing together, was the great-grandfather of folk music and of community singing. And he was an influence in my very earliest days as a songleader. The first folk songs I learned as a songleader in Girl Scouts were songs Pete Seeger had taught us all to sing: "If I Had a Hammer", "God Bless the Grass", and one of my all-time favorites, "Hard Times Come Again No More".
This tall, lanky man with the wingspan of an albatross and an impish grin, got entire stadiums of people who didn't know each other to stand and sing together, out loud and with full-throated joy. I am sorry I never experienced one of his song sessions in person, but got a lot of inspiration and instruction from watching him in film clips and on TV.
I learned about his activism later on, in adulthood. But it's the Pete Seeger I learned about as a kid that I love best and will miss the most. It's that Pete who will continue to remind me and inspire me to get out of the way and get everyone else in the room to sing along when the occasion calls for it -- and to help make those occasions happen whenever I can.