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Ronnie Gilbert, Voice Of Folk Band The Weavers, Dies At 88

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

One of the great voices in American folk music fell silent over the weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SO LONG IT'S, BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YUH")

THE WEAVERS: (Singing) The sweethearts, they sat in the dark, and they sparked. They hugged and they kissed in that dusty, old dark.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

That's Ronnie Gilbert, a founding member of The Weavers, the quartet led by the late Pete Seeger. Gilbert's voice soared on the group's recordings of fold standards like "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," "On Top Of Old Smokey" and "Goodnight Irene" - songs which helped propel the folk music revival. Here's Gilbert speaking in a 1982 documentary about The Weavers.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "THE WEAVERS: WASN'T THAT A TIME!")

RONNIE GILBERT: We sang union songs. We sang songs of hope in that strange time at the end of World War II, when already the world was preparing for Cold War. We still had the feeling that if we could sing loud enough and strong enough and hopefully enough, it would make a difference.

SHAPIRO: Their social activism got them blacklisted during the communist hunts of the McCarthy era. The Weavers made a comeback with a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall in 1955 and went on to influence a generation of musicians like Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOODNIGHT, IRENE")

GILBERT: (Singing) Sometimes, I live in the country. Sometimes, I live in town.

MONTAGNE: Gilbert continued singing and acting in the theater for many years. Plus, she became a psychologist. Ronnie Gilbert was 88 when she died on Saturday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.