Creators of 'Rise Up Singing' lead sing-along Friday at Next Stage


PUTNEY -- Long before exciting things routinely went viral, Peter Blood and Annie Patterson created something that went viral.

Blood and Patterson put together "Rise Up Singing," which is now North America's best-selling group singing songbook, with more than a million copies out there.

Featuring 1,200 songs in all styles -- folk, traditional, Broadway, rock and roll -- from many artists and cultures, and grouped by topic -- ecology, freedom, faith, love, peace, rich & poor, struggle and travelin' to name a few -- "Rise Up Singing" has become a mainstay of song circles, festivals, family gatherings and elsewhere since it was first published in 1988.

So Blood and Patterson, like their friend Pete Seeger, know a thing or two about the power and possibility kindled when people sing together.

"Peter and I both believe, like Pete Seeger believed, that our world is in trouble. When you get a local group of people together to sing together something incredible happens. ... Singing gives people the capacity to have hope and gives people the endurance or resilience to keep going," said Patterson. "I guess Peter and I feel that we're going to carry this on."

On Friday, their efforts to carry this on and honor the legacy of their friend, the late Pete Seeger, will bring them to Putney. The Putney Friends Meeting invites the public to celebrate the life of Pete Seeger at a sing-along concert with Blood and Patterson at Next Stage, 15 Kimball Hill, at 7:30 p.m.

The evening will include some of Seeger's signature songs, a chance to sing favorites from "Rise Up Singing" and a chance to hear Patterson, an accomplished folk and jazz singer in her own right, perform songs from her recent albums "Meet Me in the Moonlight" and "Mountainside."

Suggested donation is $10-15 for adults, $5 for ages 12 and under, at the door.

Patterson and Blood have long and close ties to Seeger, who supported and advised them when they were putting together "Rise Up Singing," which was published by Sing Out magazine.

"The publication of Rise Up Singing," Seeger stated, "was a landmark in the history of music in this country -- similar to the founding of Folkways Records. I waited a long time for a songbook like this one to come along and catch fire!"

Later, Blood served with Seeger on the Sing Out board and was the editor for Seeger's book, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Musical Autobiography." Throughout, Seeger remained a steadfast friend.

"From the beginning of ‘Rise Up Singing' Pete was constantly writing little postcards. I saved all his postcards over the years. I have tons of them," said Patterson.

Since Seeger's death on Jan. 27, Blood and Patterson, like so many of the millions of people Seeger touched, have been thinking of ways to carry his legacy on. The Amherst, Mass.,-based couple has family and friends in Putney and has led sing-alongs there before. It seemed fitting to come back and do it again.

"In the aftermath of Pete Seeger's death, it's almost like we want to renew our vows to be there for the world," said Patterson. "If we were tired ... now, we're not tired. He stood for so much for all of us, and he was so energetic."

"The funny thing about Pete was he wasn't like most famous people. He connected with people. So many people said ‘He changed my life,'" said Blood. "Pete was their friend just as much as he was our friend."


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