SOURCE: The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee

The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee

September 18, 2014 09:00 ET

Musicians Give Voice to Centennial Park Trees With "If Trees Could Sing" Video Project

The Nature Conservancy Launches Interactive Education Program Using Recording Artists to Talk About Their Favorite Trees

NASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwired - Sep 18, 2014) - Some of the country's top recording artists are speaking up for the trees in an interactive video program launched today in Nashville's Centennial Park by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Metro Parks Nashville. Called "If Trees Could Sing," the project features videos of 18 musicians -- ranging from Reba McEntire to the Nashville Symphony's Giancarlo Guerrero -- talking about their favorite tree. Trees included in the project have been outfitted with signs, each with an artist's photo and a QR code that, when scanned with a smart phone, takes park visitors to a video of the artist talking about that specific tree.

"Who doesn't have a favorite tree?" asked Gina Hancock, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. "Trees are an important part of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. That is the key message these generous artists are delivering. 'If Trees Could Sing' is a fresh and innovative way to communicate the vital role trees play in keeping our communities healthy, clean and enjoyable -- and the critical need to protect them."

The artists participating in "If Trees Could Sing" so far represent a diverse range of musical genres, all speaking on behalf of several different trees. The artists and trees include:

  • Rodney Atkins and the Eastern redbud
  • Big Kenny highlights the benefits of trees
  • Suzy Bogguss and the flowering dogwood
  • Jerry Douglas and the red maple
  • Mike Farris and the Eastern red cedar
  • The Fisk Jubilee Singers and the bald cypress
  • Ben Folds and the sweetgum
  • Giancarlo Guerrero of the Nashville Symphony and the green ash
  • Will Hoge and the willow oak
  • Taylor Hicks and the sweetbay magnolia
  • Jim Lauderdale and the sugarberry
  • Reba McEntire and the pin oak
  • Tim O'Brien and the chinkapin oak
  • Kim Richey and the sycamore
  • Jason Ringenberg and the hackberry
  • Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show and the osage orange
  • Webb Wilder and the blue spruce
  • Victor Wooten and the black walnut

The videos were done with the assistance of Music City Roots, Nashville's weekly Americana music radio and stage show. Artists add their own personal touches to the videos, reminding the viewer that people have meaningful connections with trees that are often taken for granted. For example, McEntire tells how her driveway is lined with pin oaks, and the way that tree always reminds her of coming home. Secor shares that where he grew up in Virginia osage orange trees are known as "bodocks." Dr. Paul Kwami with the Fisk Jubilee Singers proudly brags about the iconic bald cypress that stands on Fisk's campus in front of historic Jubilee Hall.

"We tend to take the natural world around us for granted," said Americana and bluegrass artist O'Brien, who features the traditional fiddle tune "Chinkapin Hunting" in his video about the chinkapin oak. "So we're lucky that The Nature Conservancy is there to remind us of the incredible riches right there at our fingertips. They urge us to look out our window and witness the beauty, the logic, and the creative life force embodied in a tree."

While the tree signs in Centennial Park provide a compelling entry point for the public to learn about trees, The Nature Conservancy hopes its website, which includes all the videos, provides a valuable educational resource for teachers, youth, citizen scientists and anyone else curious about tree varieties and their benefits. Aside from the videos, the web pages include information about each species, links to classroom lessons and a map of all tree sign locations in Centennial Park. The website also leads visitors to additional resources about tree care. All of the web pages and videos are equally accessible from home or school computers.

The Nature Conservancy intends to continue adding artist videos in the coming months. Discussions are also underway to expand the program to other parks outside of Nashville.

The full collection of videos can be found at www.nature.org/IfTreesCouldSing

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide and more than 300,000 acres in Tennessee. Visit The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee on the Web at www.nature.org/tennessee.

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