Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to the late Pete Seegerand Nelson Mandela with a reverent dedication of “We Shall Overcome” during the second night of his three-night stand in Cape Town, South Africa.
“I lost a great friend and a hero last night,” said Springsteen of the folk legend, who passed away at the age of 94.
He reverentially told the crowd that Mandela “made it possible for us to be here,” and Seeger was “a very courageous freedom fighter” as well.
He also spoke of the power of Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome,” saying, “Once you heard this song you were prepared to march into hell’s fire.”
He followed it up with a blistering version of his own protest song, “Born in the USA” before bringing up the house lights for a jubilant “Born to Run,” according to a report by fan Diane Vadino on Twitter.
Springsteen had a long association with Seeger, having covered Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with the singer and recording “We Shall Overcome” for Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger tribute album, released in 1997.
Springsteen later released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, in 2006. The album won the Grammy for best traditional folk album in February 2007.
Springsteen and Seeger shared a microphone at President Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration. Obama released a statement earlier in the day, writing in part, “Once called ‘America’s tuning fork,’ Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community — to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.”
Springsteen also honored Seeger on his website earlier today, posting his touching tribute to Seeger at the folk icon’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in 2009.
“He’s gonna look a lot like your granddad that wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He’s gonna look like your granddad, if your granddad can kick your ass,” he said. “At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself.”
Springsteen kicked off the show with a cover of “Free Nelson Mandela” for Sunday and Tuesday’s shows.
Watch Springsteen at Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration below.
- This article originally appeared in THR.com.