Fred Hellerman was best known as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with the folk group The Weavers from the late '40s to the mid-'60s. During and after the group's existence, however, he also maintained a varied career behind the scenes in the music industry that included working as an arranger, session musician, and producer. In addition to writing songs for other performers, he also contributed music to motion pictures and the theater.
His musical activities brought him to the attention of People's Songs, an organization devoted to using topical folk music to support union organizing and other liberal causes, and its secretary, Lee Hays, sent him a postcard inviting him to visit the office. He did so and developed a friendship with Hays, which in turn led to his meeting Pete Seeger, another principal in People's Songs. He already knew the fourth future member of the Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert, whom he had met while working as a counselor at a summer camp in 1944.