Traditional folk music, singer/songwriters
There were comparable artists who preceded the Weavers, like The Almanac Singers
, and those who succeeded them, such as Bob Dylan
, The Kingston Trio, and Peter Paul & Mary. Woody Guthrie
and the work Pete Seeger
has done since the Weavers is also in the same vein.
The Weavers originally had a fifth member named Jackie Gibson, who quit the group soon after their first performance.
Seeger was an original member of the early 1940s supergroup, The Almanac Singers. Along with bandmate Lee Hays, he formed the Weavers later that same decade. When he refused to testify regarding his political affiliation, his popularity waned. He managed to help inspire a generation of Folk troubadours, including protegee Bob Dylan. Seeger is now affiliated with the Clearwater Festival
, which raises money for environmental preservation.
Vocalist Ronnie Gilbert was born in 1926, and added her incredible vocals to the Weavers' music. Other female folk vocalists like Holly Near have hailed Gilbert's contributions as one of the chief influences for women in Folk music. Near and Gilbert released two albums together, along with a quartet album they made with Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
Born in 1914, acoustic guitarist Hays was one of the original members of The Almanac Singers in the 1940s. The formation of the Weavers was his idea, after The Almanac Singers began losing popularity as the result of a de-popularization of left-wing politics during World War II. After The Weavers disbanded, Hays joined a group called The Baby Sitters, which focused on bringing traditional Folk music to children. Hays died in 1981.
Born in 1927, guitarist Hellerman met Hays and Seeger during a song circle Seeger was holding in his Greenwich Village apartment. Hellerman's contribution to the group was in his composition of several of the group's original hits, as well as vocals and guitar.
The Weavers Biography:
This quartet managed to have a career that spanned four years and over four million in record sales. Their four members were brought before the House Commitee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy era of the 1950s, and disbanded soon after.
Seeger and Hays had started playing together in 1940 as two of the Almanac Singers (which also included American folk pioneer Woody Guthrie). This band had enjoyed some popularity on the radio until their leftist "subversive" tunes resulted in the questioning of their popularity.
Throughout World War II, Seeger and Hays worked on peace campaigns and demonstrations for human rights, civil rights, and workers' rights.
By 1948, Hays had suggested that he and Seeger try to start their own outfit separate from that of the Almanac Singers. Seeger had been hosting a song circle in his Greenwich Village apartment, known as People's Songs. It was there, in 1946, that he met Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman.
On Thanksgiving, 1948, the Weavers (who were going by "The No-Name Group" at the time) made their inaugural appearance. The name The Weavers was taken from a play by Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann.
During the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, the Weavers were brought in to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Once their affiliation with the Communist party was brought into question, the group's popularity became questionable, and they disbanded in 1953. Nonetheless, their short run managed to influence and pave the way for the folk music revival of the 50s, and artist like Joan Baez and the Kingston Trio.
Listen/Download The Weavers