All across the world people are singing, using their voices to recharge the earth. People are singing to create awareness and galvanize action. The Civil Rights Movement is a historical example of the power of song to create change. Singing is part of the joy of being human, of connecting us with ancient traditions and reminding us that we all are part of the chorus of life.
People sing for many reasons. Our ancestors sang for the earth. For the Aborigines of Australia the earth is conceived of as a song map, features in the landscape are part of a song line to be sung. Many western people have forgotten that the earth is a conscious responsive being. We are waking up, remembering that our voices can be used directly to send healing to the earth. The idea of enchanting the land is not a new one. Indigenous people have always sung as a way to honour and thank the land, sending prayers for rain, crops, and the return of animals. In the apple counties of Somerset, Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford, the community sings together to Wassail, toasting the apple trees in thanks for its fruit.
With this in mind I created a world-wide event to honor trees with song. Travelling for a full year in 2007, I noticed that many trees were dying in the places I visited. I woke up one morning with an idea, Earth Day-Sing for the Trees, and created an event on Facebook. Initially I wondered if anyone would resonate with the idea. But soon thousands of people began to sign up. Many wrote that they thought they were the only ones who went out and sang to trees.
Earth Day-Sing for the Trees is now an annual global event which is going into its tenth year. The idea is simple. On April 22 sing at noon wherever you are on the planet to your favourite trees, creating a global perpetual song wave circling the earth. Since its creation in 2010, over 10,000 people in 45 countries have been involved in singing to trees they love. A group of Kindergarten children in Switzerland sang for the trees in their local forest. Children sang at a Native American Prayer tree in the woods near Atlanta, Georgia. Peace marchers sang at the Nevada Test site where the first nuclear bomb was exploded. They sang for the Joshua trees while walking through the parched land. The image of the wasteland that Western Industrialized Society has created is being countered by thousands of people who are singing for the earth.
Singing for trees is at the heart of my juvenile fiction book Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation. Throughout the year I travelled I had impressions about what was happening to trees and ideas wherever I went. A group of elderly women with large hats waiting outside a hair parlor became tree spirits. A white haired woman by the Rio Grande River turned into a bird and back into an old woman with a hat full of feathers. Dying trees pleaded with me in dreams.
I ended the year living for three months in a place I had never heard of before, someplace I never imaged existed: Peachtree City, Georgia. The peach orchards in northern Georgia had disappeared; everyone had a golf cart which was the preferred way to get around town. I imagined the tree devas in my story driving golf carts because, well, they can’t get around very well. My ideas began to take form and I wrote the first few pages of what was to become my juvenile fiction novel Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation, the story of an eleven year old girl who must sing to the dying Great Mother Tree.
Now, I have taken this story a step further in collaborating with a composer to create Emma Oliver and Her Songs of Creation: A Musical Journey to Empower Girls and Save Trees. We are still in process of finishing the songs, compiling a booklet and envisioning the next steps.
In the meantime won’t you add your voice to the love song for our trees by joining with others on Earth Day-Sing for the Trees. See our Facebook Event Page for more information.
To receive a free PDF on finding your voice through learning vocal toning please join me on my website.
Susan Elizabeth Hale is a music therapist, singer and author of the juvenile fiction book Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation. She is also author of Sacred Space Sacred Sound-The Acoustic Mysteries of Holy Places (Quest Books, 2007). She lives in Malvern, England where she sings to ancient trees and holy wells.
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