Sep 17, 2009 12:50 PM GMT
.Mary Travers, a striking figure of power and glamour in the early-1960s folk music movement, died Wednesday at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut after suffering from leukemia for several years. She was 72.
She was best known as the blond with the bangs who commanded the middle microphone with Peter, Paul and Mary, a trio that brought folk music from coffeehouses to top-40 radio.
They also gave much of America its first taste of the young Bob Dylan by helping to turn his "Blowin' in the Wind" into a national anthem.
The group reunited several years ago to begin touring, and Travers performed with them until a few months ago, even when she needed assistance on stage.
Travers, like Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, saw folk music both as an art and as an instrument for change. They sang a number of sociopolitical songs, which Travers later defended.
"I'm not sure I want to be singing 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' when I'm 75," she said in one interview. "But I know I'll still be singing 'Blowin' in the Wind.' "
She was born in Louisville, Ky., but grew up in Greenwich Village and came up through the New York coffeehouse circuit, singing on her own before she was put together with Stookey and Yarrow by famed manager Albert Grossman, who also managed Dylan.
The trio took considerable criticism from fellow folk singers for developing a sound that some considered too "commercial" and not "authentic" enough.
Travers always strongly defended the trio's sound, saying that they were in the folk tradition by making music accessible to everyone, not just academic collectors.
Peter, Paul and Mary were inducted into the Sammy Cahn Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. Travers is survived by two daughters.
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