Final Notes, Hedy West

Singer and banjo player Hedy West passed away on July 3, at the age of 67. Born in Cartersville, Georgia, her father, Don West, was a well-known poet and trade union organizer. Although her repertoire included everything from ballads, broadsides, industrial songs, and dance tunes to original compositions, Hedy’s emphasis was always on traditional music, learned primarily from her maternal grandmother in North Georgia. In 1959 she went to New York to study music and drama and quickly became involved in the folk movement there. Pete Seeger, a friend of her father’s, had invited her to participate in several performances, including a Sing Out! hootenanny at Carnegie Hall. By the mid-’60s Hedy had performed at all the major folk festivals, given concerts all over the country, and made several recordings on labels such as Vanguard and Folk-Legacy. In recent years, cancer had affected her voice, and, not wishing to play the banjo without being able to sing, Hedy had retired from performing. Though none of her original albums are currently available on CD, there are three tracks of her music on The Original New Folks Anthology, available at Amazon.com.

 

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