One of the members of the influential 1950s folk quartet the Weavers died over the weekend. NPR reports that Ronnie Gilbert, the female voice in a group that also included Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman, died Saturday at 88.
Gilbert reportedly died of natural causes in a retirement home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The four, with Gilbert singing contralto, came together in 1948 and are credited with a folk revival that helped spawn such performers as Bob Dylan, the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. But the group’s leftist political views put them on the radar of the McCarthy-era anti-communist movement and the group lost their recording contract in 1951,” NPR reports.
Gilbert is quoted in a 1982 interview for the documentary “The Weavers: Wasn’t That a Time” saying: “We sang songs of hope in that strange time after World War II, when already the world was preparing for Cold War. We still had the feeling that if we could sing loud enough and strong enough and hopefully enough, it would make a difference.”
The Weavers became known for songs such as “The Hammer Song,” often referred to as “If I Had a Hammer,” written by Seeger and Hays. Other trademark numbers included the Woody Guthrie cover “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh” and the folk standard “Goodnight, Irene.”
Here’s a sample of the early Weavers: