In conversation with Alastair Laurence
Peggy Seeger recorded for the first time at the age of eighteen and has been making albums and playing in front of audiences every decade since the nineteen fifties. Now into her eighties she is still performing, often with her sons Calum and Neill. On any night Peggy will sing about drugs, war, hormones, politicians, unions, women, love or climate change.
Peggy was born into a musical family – her half-brother is Pete Seeger, the folk singer and social activist. As a young woman she left the United States and came to the UK where she met the legendary figure of Ewan MacColl. Peggy became his partner and muse, and for her Ewan wrote The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. They were key figures in the UK folk revival, also working together on an astonishing range of projects demanding social and political change. With the BBC Producer Charles Parker, Peggy and Ewan devised the Radio Ballads that invented the format of modern radio documentary.
Following the death of MacColl in 1989, Peggy formed a personal and professional partnership with Irish traditional singer Irene Pyper-Scott, with whom she is in a civil partnership. Her memoir First Time Ever was published in 2017.
Alastair Laurence, who is curating this series, is a freelance documentary film maker who lives near Abergavenny. In recent years Alastair has made films about The Battle of the Somme, a history of British Photography and the poets John Betjeman, Philip Larkin and TS Eliot.
Contemporary photograph by VICKI SHARP