Folksingers Peggy Seeger, Rosalie Sorrels, Ronnie Gilbert to speak/perform at URI

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KINGSTON, R.I. — October 13, 2006 — Folk counterculture legends Peggy Seeger, Rosalie Sorrels, and Ronnie Gilbert will speak and perform at the University of Rhode Island on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium.

Their visit is part of a semester-long series for the URI Honors Colloquium, Songs of Social Justice: The Rhetoric of Music, which explores music as a means of expression, persuasion, and mobilization.

Seeger, Sorrels, and Gilbert have inspired generations of musicians and activists, especially women.

Seeger has performed since the ‘50s and is self-described as a progressive, an advocate, a mover-and-shaker, a left-winger, a feminist, and a singer of songs that try to move humanity a little on down the road. She is probably best known for her feminist song “Gonna Be an Engineer” and for “The Ballad of Springhill,” which is rapidly becoming regarded as a traditional song.

Sorrels is an icon of the folk counterculture and a collector and performer of traditional folksongs, traveling the country with her music for the past 40 years. One critic described her singing voice as “one of the most wonderful voices in American music, an instrument as mellow and finely aged as an antique viola.” Gamble Rodgers referred to her as “the hillbilly Edith Piaf.” Sorrels’ CD, “My Last Go ‘Round” has been nominated for a Grammy.

Gilbert joined forces with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman to form The Weavers in 1947. The politically aware Weavers were blacklisted during the anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era. With The Weavers unable to tour, Gilbert moved toward a solo career as singer and actor in the early ’60s, recording albums and appearing in plays off and on Broadway. She subsequently earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology and worked as a therapist before returning to the theater.

Drawn out of musical retirement by longtime devotee Holly Near for a series of 1983 concerts (captured by Appleseed Records), Gilbert continues to work as a writer, teacher, and activist. She is particularly interested in feminism and global peace.

Visit for the colloquium schedule and directions. For more information, contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2303 or

Major sponsors for the series are The Providence Journal, the URI Division of University Advancement, the URI Honors Program, the URI Office of the President and the URI Office of the Provost.

Photos of Peggy Seeger, Rosalie Sorrels, Ronnie Gilbert