What role can music and art play in tackling the climate crisis? How has folksong been used to help the social movements of the past?
In a unique event Peggy Seeger (folksinger and activist) and George Monbiot (environmentalist and Guardian journalist) will come together to debate these questions. In a conversation interspersed with Peggy’s songs from the environmental and other social movements these two celebrated activists will champion and challenge the role that music and art can play in driving change.
Peggy Seeger is a folk singer, song-maker and activist. Born in 1935, Peggy’s family connections are well-known in both folk and classical music circles. She is Pete Seeger‘s half-sister, Ruth Crawford Seeger‘s daughter and partner to Ewan MacColl, who wrote The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for her and with whom she bore three children. Her best-known compositions are Gonna Be an Engineer and The Ballad of Springhill (the latter rapidly becoming regarded as a traditional song). The MacColl-Seeger work was prodigious in its scope. From 1959 onward, they encouraged and set standards for the burgeoning UK folk revival; they trolled the USA and UK field recordings and anthologies for little-known traditional songs, trained other singers and involved them in political-musical documentary theatre and instigated the revolutionary Radio Ballad form. Their work was stopped by Ewan’s death in 1989. Peggy has made 32 solo recordings and taken part in more than 100 with other performers. A singer and multi-instrumentalist, she is considered to be one of North America’s finest female folksingers.
George Monbiot is a British writer known for his environmental and political activism. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and is the author of a number of books, including Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000), Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding (2013) and Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis (2017). He is the founder of The Land is Ours, a campaign for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the UK. In October 2016, George released his first album, Breaking the Spell of Loneliness written with the musician Ewan McLennan. A remarkable collaboration seeking to use music and word to open up the issue of loneliness and bring people together.