Ronnie Gilbert’s voice could be heard throughout the 1950s as she sang with folk group The Weavers. She, and the band, helped folk music gain in popularity throughout the nation and the world. Ronnie Gilbert died on Saturday in Mill Valley, California.
She was 88-years-old. Her death was confirmed by her partner, Donna Korones.
Gilbert was born in New York and by the age of 12, her voice graced the radio waves. In 1947, Gilbert joined The Weavers with other big names such as Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman. Together, the band brought folk music to the forefront. If Pete Seeger was the father of American folk music, than Ronnie Gilbert was the mother.
Throughout the late 40s and into the 50s and 60s, Gilbert and The Weavers produced a variety of music from classic comfort songs to those expressing their progressive political views. The band was blacklisted and unable to tour during the McCarthy era.
Ronnie choose to go out on a solo career, and in the early 60s began a new singing and acting career. She appeared in plays on and off Broadway, earned her M.A. in clinical psychology, and then returned to theater.
In 1983, Holly Near and Gilbert started working together. The two ended up putting out three albums, one of which was a solo album of Gilbert’s. Ronnie toured with Holly and Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie before creating another solo album. This one, titled Love Will Find A Way, came out under her and Donna Korones’, her partner, label.
Before her death, according to her biography, Ronnie Gilbert was hard at work.
“Currently, Ronnie performs an auto-biographical song/talk called ‘Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life with Songs’ for cross-generational communities. She [continues] her commitment to feminism and global peace activism through strong participation in the Women In Black network, challenging U.S. policy in the Middle East and around the world. She is at work writing her memoirs.”
Her memoir, titled Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song, will be published in the fall.
Ronnie leaves behind her daughter, Lisa, her granddaughter, and her partner of 30 years, Donna Korones.
Ronnie and Donna were married in 2004 when same-sex marriages in California first became legal. However, a California Supreme Court ruling later ruled their marriage invalid.
Ronnie Gilbert will forever live on through her music.
[Picture via YouTube Screenshot]