The Almanac Singers Biography

This influential folk group was formed in 1940 by Pete Seeger (3 May 1919, New York City, New York, USA), Lee Hays (b. 14 March 1914 Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, d. 26 August 1981, Tarrytown, New York, USA) and Millard Lampell. Taking their name from ‘The Farmer’s Almanac’, the trio recorded a debut album prior to the arrival of a fourth member, Woody Guthrie (b. Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, 14 July 1912, Okemah, Oklahoma, USA, d. 3 October 1967, New York City, New York, USA), in June 1941. Two further collections financed a trip across the USA, during which the new line-up performed in factories and union halls. Hays and Lampell temporarily dropped out of the group on reaching Los Angeles but Seeger and Guthrie worked their way back to New York. Here they established the first of several Almanac Houses which served as co-operatives for committed local singers. Among those drawn into the circle were Cisco Houston, Peter Hawes and Sis Cunningham. The Almanac Singers officially broke up in 1942 when several members joined the armed forces.

Other notable members of the Almanacs featured on their recordings were Bess Hawes (née Lomax) and Arthur Stern. Guthrie worked in the short-lived Headline Singers with Lead Belly, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry before forging a prolific solo career, while Seeger and Hays later formed the highly successful Weavers. Lampell has been involved in writing illustrated books on American culture.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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