“For decades, Seeger has been one of the most authoritative voices in
American and English folk... An esteemed interpreter of traditional
material and a gifted instrumentalist” – Billboard
As acclaimed for her socio-political compositions – early feminist signposts like “Gonna Be an Engineer” – as for her bottomless repertoire of North American and English folk music, Peggy Seeger revisits her traditional roots on Heading for Home, her 20th solo album.
When she and her two sons, producers/musicians Calum and Neill MacColl, rented an 18th century British cottage in September 2002 to use as a recording studio, their intent was to create “an album of traditional and new songs that sounded like traditional ones,” according to Peggy. They emerged with 40 finished songs, enough for a trilogy of “Home” CDs, of which Heading for Home is the first.
Aside from the opening track, an original meditation on her own mortality that features Peggy’s rippling 5-string banjo backdrop, the remaining twelve songs on the CD are revived from America’s past, mixing folk, bluegrass and mountain music. “I have sung these songs for 68 years, and I cannot imagine living without them, yet decades have passed since I last recorded any of them,” writes Peggy in her tart, witty liner notes. Five of the songs receive their first Seeger versions on this CD; some are familiar (“John Riley,” “Soldier’s Farewell,” “Girl of Constant Sorrow”), while others are more obscure delights.
Among those accompanying Peggy’s vocals, banjo, guitar, dulcimer and autoharp are her three children by the late British singer-songwriter-dramatist Ewan MacColl (who wrote the Grammy-winning “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in Peggy’s honor) – multi-instrumentalists and songwriters Calum (one of whose compositions has been covered by the Backstreet Boys!) and Neill (formerly of the defunct British band The Bible, a past sideman for Nanci Griffith and David Gray, and more recently featured on a CD by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour), and daughter Kitty (backing vocals). Peggy’s brother Mike, a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers and a musician/scholar of “old-time music,” guests on banjo on one track. The family that plays together . . . Peggy appears on Appleseed’s September 2003 release of the 2-CD Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3, which couples her half-brother Pete Seeger’s first new CD since 1996 with a second disc of new versions of songs from his repertoire by Tom Paxton, Natalie Merchant, Janis Ian and other folk luminaries.
“I am old, I am young, I am all that I have been,” sings Peggy on the song “Heading for Home.” She is ageless, she is wise, she is a deeply moving singer, songwriter and performer, honoring and expanding the boundaries of traditional and contemporary folk music.