Knoxville, TN - Have you ever heard a tree tell its own story? You can now, in two Knoxville City parks.
Mayor Madeline Rogero and Gina Hancock, Tennessee State Director of The Nature Conservancy, announced today the new “If Trees Could Sing” initiative in which signs are dispersed around trees in two City parks with video links to top musical artists—including Reba McIntyre and Ben Folds—speaking out about the importance of trees in cities.
“This initiative is a great fit for Knoxville, as we are coming into our own as an outdoor tourism city, and we have always been a city rich in musical heritage,” said Mayor Rogero.
The greenways at Morningside Park, located at 1600 Dandridge Ave., and Victor Ashe Park, located at 4901 Bradshaw Rd., will be interlaced with signs linked to the artists sharing facts about their favorite trees.
“Who doesn’t have a favorite tree?” asked Gina Hancock, State Director for The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee. “Trees are an important part of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. That is the key message we are delivering. ‘If Trees Could Sing’ is a fresh 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 genres, all speaking on behalf of a variety of trees. The artists and trees include:
- Rodney Atkins and the Eastern redbud
- Big Kenny on the benefit of trees
- Suzy Bogguss and the flowering dogwood
- Jerry Douglas and the red maple
- Farmer Jason and the hackberry
- Mike Farris and the Eastern red cedar
- The Fisk Jubilee Singers and the bald cypress
- Bella Fleck, Abigail Washburn and the sugar maple
- Ben Folds and the sweetgum
- Amy Grant and the pecan tree
- Giancarlo Guerrero of the Nashville Symphony and the green ash
- Will Hoge and the willow oak
- Taylor Hicks and the sweetbay magnolia
- Humming House and the Virginia pine
- Jim Lauderdale and the sugarberry
- Bill Lloyd and the yellowwood
- Kathy Mattea and the Southern magnolia
- Reba McEntire and the pin oak
- Tim O’Brien and the chinkapin oak
- David Olney and the white oak
- Deanie Richardson and the shagbark hickory
- Kim Richey and the sycamore
- Jason Ringenberg and the hackberry
- Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show and the osage orange
- Annie Sellick and the tulip poplar
- Webb Wilder and the blue spruce
- Victor Wooten and the black walnut
- 8Ball on the benefits of trees
“I grew up in Alabama, and trees are a big part of what makes that state beautiful. So I’m really glad The Nature Conservancy asked me to do one of these videos,” said Taylor Hicks, winner of the fifth season of “American Idol.” “I also like that a wide diversity of musicians have joined the project to give trees a voice. Because everyone—whoever you are—benefits from trees.”
The videos were produced with the assistance of Music City Roots, Nashville’s weekly Americana music radio stage show. Artists added their own personal touches to the videos, reminding the viewer that people have meaningful connections with trees that are often taken for granted.
“Trees provide countless benefits to us every day,” Mayor Rogero said. “They improve our air quality, cool things off by providing shade, help retain stormwater runoff and more. The City of Knoxville recognizes the value of our trees, which is why we created an Urban Forester position specifically to care for trees within the City.”
Kasey Krouse was hired as the City’s first Urban Forester in 2012, and heads up the Urban Forestry Division within the City’s Public Service Department.
For information on Morningside or Victor Ashe parks, please visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/parks. Videos with the artists can be found at www.nature.org/IfTreesCouldSing.
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