Folk musician Jackie Alper connector of community

Jackie Alper sitting in front of a microphone.

Intrinsic contributions land her in Thomas Edison Capital Region Music Hall of Fame

SARATOGA SPRINGS—The late Jackie Alper embodied the essence of folk music; she was a connector. Throughout her life, with music as her tool, Alper brought people together and brought music to the community.

She was a leading force in the formation of the Weavers, was an active supporter of Caffé Lena in Saratoga and curated her husband’s photographs of folk musicians to share with the world.

Alper-a staple of the local folk music community locally-will be inducted into the Thomas Edison Capital Region Music Hall of Fame as a member of the sixth class March 25 at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs. For tickets, visit

Alper passed away in 2007. Her son George Alper said, “She never said ‘no’ to anybody. She’s never had anything to give. But what she did have, she shared, and that’s pretty amazing.”

Alper was born in Brooklyn and raised on picket lines. Her very early youth protesting workers’ rights with her parents would become the building blocks of her core.

“If the cause was just, she was willing to do whatever she had to for someone, whether it was somebody in her immediate family or whether it was somebody she didn’t know … it didn’t matter,” said George Alper about his mother.

Music was another driving force in Alper’s life. She picked up a guitar and pen as a young adult and the rest is history.

She would go on to perform with the likes of Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry and was an on and off member of the Almanac Singers, an influential NYC-based folk group that was active during World War II.

Later, she helped found the Weavers, introducing a 16-year-old Ronnie Gilbert to Seeger, Lee Hayes and Freddie Hellerman, as they took part in, what the members affectionately called the era, the “Great Folk Music Scare of the 1950s and 60s.”

“It’s a little murky as to exactly how, when, where and why she met Pete and Woody and Cisco. But the fact is that they did play together. She was instrumental,” George Alper said.

Eventually, Jackie would meet husband Joe Alper and settle in Schenectady, where she would go on to make big contributions to the community.

Together they played a key role in supporting Caffè Lena in its early years, often housing musicians including Bob Dylan at their Schenectady home.

“I know that back in those days it wasn’t a music business, it was just music. There was very little business involved, very little pay. Certainly nothing like the music scene is today.

But that’s part of the reason why we met so many musicians and had so much involvement in the caffe. We were one of the families that was intrinsically involved in getting it started and we carried on that involvement,” their son George Alper said.

The Hall of Fame ceremony is open to the public and includes musical performances, a social hour, videos on the musical career of each inductee and acceptance speeches. Tickets are on sale now through the Box Office at Proctors in-person, via phone at (518) 346-6204 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday or online by visiting

Universal Preservation Hall and Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame are a part of Proctors Collaborative. For more information on the Hall of Fame visit