Grammy win for Seeger,
Rivertown Kids is ‘a big
John W. Barry • Poughkeepsie Journal • February
“Tomorrow’s Children,” a CD by Pete Seeger with The
Rivertown Kids and Friends, featuring former
students from J.V. Forrestal Elementary School in
Beacon, won the Grammy for Best Musical Album For
Children on Sunday.
“I can’t really believe it really happened,” said Elyse
Fox, 11, of Beacon, a sixth-grader at Rombout
Middle School who sang on the CD and is a current
member of The Rivertown Kids. “I feel like I’m just in
a big dream. I’d like to thank Pete. If it wasn’t for
him, we wouldn’t have been on the CD and we
wouldn’t have gotten this Grammy.”
The award — Seeger’s third gramophone statue —
was handed out Sunday afternoon by comedian
Kathy Griffin during the 53rd Grammy Awards Pre-
Telecast Ceremony in Los Angeles.
The Rivertown Kids evolved from Tery Udell’s
fourth-grade class at J.V. Forrestal Elementary
“I’m proud of what we did,” Udell said Sunday. “I’m
proud of all the hard work we did that got us to the
place where Pete offered us this opportunity.”
Reached by telephone Sunday afternoon at his home
in Dutchess Junction, Seeger, 91, told the Journal,
“You never can tell. … I hope it will lead to more
folks hearing that nice little record with the children
singing songs,” said Seeger, who founded the
Beacon-based environmental organization
Clearwater and was inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame.
Then he said, “So unpredictable” and let out a laugh.
Clearwater received a state Department of
Environmental Conservation grant that allowed
Hudson River educator Dan Einbender in 2007 to
work with children in the Beacon school district.
Einbender taught Udell’s fourth-grade students
about the river. Udell expanded his role in the
classroom by implementing the way he used music
in river education into other areas of study.
“What do you do after that?” Einbender said of the
Grammy win. “I’m not sure. I just feel content,
validated. This is an incredible validation of the
work that we did.”
During the 2008-09 school year, Udell’s students
sang several Seeger songs as part of their studies.
Einbender invited Seeger, whom he has known for
many years, into the classroom, and the folk singer
Seeger asked the children to perform with him in
public and, later, to record an album that was an
outgrowth of his 2008 Grammy-winning CD, “At 89.”
The singing program has evolved into a community
organization called The Rivertown Kids that is not
affiliated with either the school district or Clearwater
but is run by Einbender and Udell.
“Tomorrow’s Children” was recorded in 2009-10
and released in the summer. The CD was co-
produced by David Bernz of Beacon with Einbender,
who lives in Wurtsboro, Sullivan County, and Travis
Jeffrey of Kingston. Bernz also produced “At 89.”
It was recorded by Jeff Haynes of Beacon, a musician
who brought in other Beacon school district
students to play percussion.
Among the 19 tracks on “Tomorrow’s Children” are
renditions of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” a Seeger song that
was a major hit for The Byrds; and “Take It from Dr.
King,” which Seeger wrote after Sept. 11, 2001.