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Seeger, Pete (03 May 1919–27 January 2014), folk singer and activist, was born Peter Seeger in New York City, the son of Charles Seeger, a musicologist and composer born in Mexico and trained at Harvard, and Constance de Clyver Edson, a concert violinist, born in Tunisia and trained at the Paris Conservatory of Music. Charles, hired to establish the music department at the University of California, Berkeley, lost his job as a result of his pacifism during World War I, and that led the family to return to New York. Pete endured a lonely childhood, complicated by his parents’ divorce when he was eight. By that time he was already at boarding school, so he only really spent time with his parents, who lived on opposite sides of Central Park, when he was home on vacation. While a student at Avon Old Farms, an exclusive private high school in Connecticut, he began playing a four-string banjo, and later, when his father took him to the Ninth Annual Folk Song and Dance Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, he discovered the more versatile five-string banjo. He also loved the folk music he heard, and on his return to Washington, D.C., where his father now lived with his second wife, the musicologist and composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, he began to listen to recordings he found at the Library of Congress....

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Simone, Nina (21 February 1933–21 April 2003), African American jazz singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist, was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, the sixth of eight children of John Divine Waymon, a barber and owner of a dry-cleaning business, and Mary Kate Irvin, a housekeeper and minister. Eunice was an accomplished musician at a young age who began playing piano for St. Luke's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church when she was six years old. Mary Kate encouraged Eunice's musical pursuits but discouraged her taking part in nonreligious music, including blues, jazz, and Tin Pan Alley....

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Nina Simone. Photograph, 1982.