"Gonna Be an Engineer," sings composer, musician and activist Peggy Seeger--and while visiting MIT this week, she'll meet those with the same aspirations. Seeger is artist-in-residence at MIT from Sept. 23-26, where she'll visit classes, share time with students and perform a public concert on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Wong Auditorium.
Known as the "quintessential very hip grandma," Seeger was born in 1935 in New York City into an extremely musical family. Her half-brother, Pete, has been considered the father of the American folk revival since 1946. Her father, Charles Louis Seeger, was a pioneer of ethnomusicology at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he invented and developed the melograph, an electronic means of notating music. Her mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was the first woman to be awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship Award for Music.
Accomplished on guitar, banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp and concertina, Peggy Seeger started singing folk songs professionally after majoring in music at college. A British subject since 1959, she first went to the United Kingdom in 1956 as an actress in the television film, "Dark Side of The Moon." She also joined the Ramblers, a group that included Ewan MacColl (who became her life partner), Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins.
In 1957, together with MacColl and Charles Parker, she worked on a series of documentaries for the BBC which are now commonly known as "The Radio Ballads." After MacColl died in 1989, Seeger again launched a solo career, touring both the United States and Australia. She returned to the States in 1994 and took up residence in Asheville, N.C.
One of her best-known songs, "Gonna Be an Engineer" has become one of the anthems of the women's movement. Her music has been recorded on numerous records, most of them made with MacColl. She has made 19 solo albums, including the 2000 "Love Will Linger On." Her new album of traditional folk songs, "Heading for Home," is scheduled for release by Appleseed on Oct. 7.
For more information, call 253-8844.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 24, 2003.