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If trees could sing

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In recognition of the many species of trees in Nashville’s Centennial Park and the role they play in our everyday lives, the Nature Conservancy has sponsored a series of short videos featuring some of the country’s top musical performers talking about their favorite tree. Ben Folds is fond of the sweetgum, a tree native to North Carolina, and he recorded a tribute to the species with many interesting factoids about it.

“Native Americans used sweetgum sap to treat their wounds, and when it hardened, they used it for chewing gum,” Folds said of the tree that can grow to over a hundred feet tall and which turns brilliant shades of red and yellow in the fall.

“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.”

Among the artists recording tributes to their favorite trees are Rodney Atkins, Suzy Bogguss, Reba McEntire, Will Hoge and Victor Wooten. The videos were recorded with the assistance of Music City Roots, a weekly radio and stage show featuring music of Americana. Each tree in Centennial Park honored with a tribute is marked with a plaque with a photo of the artist that adopted it and a QR code which, when scanned with a smartphone, will link to the video of the artist talking about the tree.

Ironically, it may be among the last recordings to be made in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A on Music Row. Folds announced previously that he intends to vacate when his lease is up due to sharply rising rents. His announcement was followed recently by the eviction of all other tenants as of December 1st, with a permit filed to demolish the building to its foundation shortly thereafter.

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