Mary Travers, of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, is dead. She was 72 and suffering from leukaemia. Here are tributes from the New York Times, Rolling Stone, BBC, Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here are Peter, Paul and Mary singing two of my favourite songs, Blowin' In The Wind, in their younger days, and Where Have All The Flowers Gone, long afterwards.
Peter, Paul and Mary topped the charts with John Denver's Leaving On A Jet Plane, reminds the Rolling Stone.
The Associated Press says:
The trio mingled their music with liberal politics, both onstage and off. Their version of "If I Had a Hammer" became an anthem for racial equality. Other hits included "Lemon Tree," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and "Puff (The Magic Dragon.)"
They were early champions of Bob Dylan and performed his "Blowin' in the Wind" at the August 1963 March on Washington.
And they were vehement in their opposition to the Vietnam War, managing to stay true to their liberal beliefs while creating music that resonated in the American mainstream.
The group collected five Grammy Awards for their three-part harmony on enduring songs like "Leaving on a Jet Plane," "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" and "Blowin' in the Wind."
The Rolling Stone says:
Travers was born in Kentucky but attended high school in New York’s West Village, where her family lived in the same building as folk icon Pete Seeger. She became a disciple of the Weavers and performed with Seeger before Yarrow and his manager Albert Grossman (who later steered Bob Dylan’s career) recruited her for the trio.
The New York Times says:
Ms. Travers brought a powerful voice and an unfeigned urgency to music that resonated with mainstream listeners. With her straight blond hair and willowy figure and two bearded guitar players by her side, she looked exactly like what she was, a Greenwich Villager directly from the clubs and the coffeehouses that nourished the folk-music revival.
“She was obviously the sex appeal of that group, and that group was the sex appeal of the movement,” said Elijah Wald, a folk-blues musician and a historian of popular music.
Ms. Travers’s voice blended seamlessly with those of her colleagues, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, to create a rich three-part harmony that propelled the group to the top of the pop charts. Their first album, “Peter, Paul and Mary,” which featured the hit singles “Lemon Tree” and “If I Had a Hammer,” reached No. 1 shortly after its release in March 1962 and stayed there for seven weeks, eventually selling more than two million copies.
The group’s interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” translated his raw vocal style into a smooth, more commercially acceptable sound. The singers also scored big hits with pleasing songs like the whimsical “Puff the Magic Dragon” and John Denver’s plaintive “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Their sound may have been commercial and safe, but early on their politics were somewhat risky for a group courting a mass audience. Like Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey, Ms. Travers was outspoken in her support for the civil-rights and antiwar movements, in sharp contrast to clean-cut folk groups like the Kingston Trio, which avoided making political statements.