RIP: Mary Travers, 1936-2009

The flaxen-haired folksinger Mary Travers died on Wednesday at the age of 72, after a long battle with leukemia. She was the queen of ’60s folk music scene, one-third of the most successful folk group of the day: Peter, Paul & Mary.

Here’s a clip of PP&M singing the classic “If I Had a Hammer” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963:

Travers had strong ties to the Capital Region. Her parents met while working as journalists for two competing Albany newspapers – her father Robert at the Times Union and her mother Virginia at the Knickerbocker Press (before becoming the Knickerbocker News).

The two were married and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Mary Travers was born. But shortly thereafter, the family returned to the Capital Region, where Virginia took a job at the Schenectady Gazette and Robert worked at the Schenectady Union-Star.

Champions of the peace and civil rights movements, as well as other social and political causes, Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers sang from the heart with great passion.

“Sometimes a song is too relevant,” Travers sadly observed by way of introduction to Pete Seeger’s classic anti-war anthem, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” during one of PP&M’s final Capital Region concerts at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady in 2004.

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