Bruce Cockburn grew up with a love of nature . As a boy he enjoyed sleigh rides into the woods to tap sugar bushes on his grandfather’s farm and spent idyllic summers camping and canoeing in Algonquin Park.
As an adult he traveled and his appreciation of nature increased: the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains, the quiet beauty of the Arctic and the solitude of the Sahara Dessert. But, Bruce was becoming concerned that amongst all the glories of nature, environmental disasters and species extinctions were increasing.
In 1988 he released the song If a Tree Falls and it became a hit – bringing a great deal of attention to deforestation and other environmental issues. Since then, Bruce has never stopped singing in support of habitat preservation.
“We as a species are killing our habitat. And that’s just plain dumb.”
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Can music affect social change? There is no doubt that music has the ability to effect us emotionally, make us think and see the world differently and that musicians have the power to change the world for the better with the broad platform they possess in their fan-base. This week, we highlight one of the many artists who are melding the world of politics with music.
Ottawa born Bruce Cockburn is the winner of 13 Juno Awards, an Officer of the Order of Canada and has more than 30 albums under his belt. However, he is also a long-time, outspoken advocate for the environment and unafraid to publicly tackle difficult political questions.
He is committed to raising ecological and social awareness; Bruce is the honorary chairperson of Friends of the Earth and a supporter of the Unitarian Service Committee, he performed at a UNICEF concert in Kosovo, and was a spokesperson for the movement to ban land mines. In 2005 he performed his well-known “If A Tree Falls” at the UN Summit for Climate Control in Montreal.
Indeed, Bruce was one of the earlier mainstream voices to speak about the destruction of our natural resources and he did so with the conviction that he was speaking for many others who shared his concern. When asked about why he chose his music as the forum from which to encourage others to think about the human connection to our environment, he explained:
I don't think music can bring about social change by itself. I think it can be a crystallizing agent for waves of feeling that move through all of us.
His music delivers a powerful message in a medium we all enjoy. His upcoming tour to promote his new album, Small Source of Comfort, takes him all over the U.S. and Canada so go check Bruce out live at a location near you!
• Support Canada’s Friends of the Earth, a voice for nature working to protect our natural landscape.
• Join Bruce in his support of the David Suzuki Foundation
• A musical event is a great way to create awareness of an environmental issue close to your heart. Bruce Cockburn himself has performed benefit concerts in support of the Stein River Valley and their fights against logging and the Exxon oil spill off the Alaskan coast. Volunteer with organizations like this!
• Get your friends together for a benefit evening and post a video on GreenHeroes to show the world what you are doing to change the planet!
• See what Bruce is doing on and off the stage on Facebook
• Are you music buff? Perhaps you are going on tour yourself soon. Take a look at Reverb, a company that works with musicians and their fans to offset the eco-impact that cross-country touring can have. You can volunteer, or find out more and let your favourite musicians know that they too can join in.
• Share Bruce’s GreenHeroes webisode using our neat Sharelizer widget. You can post GreenHeroes.tv videos on your blog or website by simply following the directions on our site