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RONNIE GILBERT, R.I.P.

Folk Singer and Activist Was a Major Influence on Both Musical and Political Movements

Ronnie Gilbert, the lone female member of groundbreaking folk group The Weavers and a hugely influential singer/activist in her own right, died on Sunday; she was 88.

A pro singer by her early teens, she formed The Weavers with Pete Seeger, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays in 1947. The group became known for such beloved songs as "Goodnight, Irene" and "Wimoweh." Their vocal style, global orientation and leftist politics paved the way for most of the key acts that followed them in the folk tradition.

Naturally, they were blacklisted in the McCarthy era.

After the group disbanded in 1964, Gilbert carried on with her own music, performed on Broadway and went to school to become a therapist. She reunited with The Weavers in 1980 and recorded with acolytes such as Holly Near.

She married her partner and manager, Donna Korones, in San Francisco in2004.

An autobiography, Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song, is forthcoming.

A statement from NARAS chief Neil Portnow reads:

"A 2006 recipient of The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award with legendary folk group the Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert had a spectacular voice that was as haunting as it was beautiful. Known for performing timeless versions of American folk standards such as "On Top Of Old Smoky" and "Goodnight, Irene," the Weavers helped propel the folk music revival in the 1950s and, through it all, Ronnie’s gifts as both a musician and social activist soared. We have lost a brilliant talent and our heartfelt condolences go out to her family, friends and all those who benefited from her tremendous talents."

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