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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Eco Tunes

Air Date: Week of

(Photo: Linda Wan)

Singer-songwriter Joe Reilly combines love of music and his role as environmental educator on the new CD "Children of the Earth." Kids sing along with their own ideas to help teach basic science, and spread a message of ecological stewardship for youth.


[MUSIC: “Tree Hugging Song” from Children Of The Earth: Environmental Songs for Kids Of All Ages (Joe Reilly Music 2007)]

CURWOOD: How could we live without trees? That’s the question singer-songwriter Joe Reilly, and the youngsters he works with in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ask in that “Tree Hugging Song.” It’s from a new CD he’s produced, called “Children of the Earth.” Joe Reilly wants to spread the word about good environmental stewardship.

But he wants to entertain as well, with songs about nature, and animals, of all kinds.

[MUSIC: Joe Reilly “If I Could Be Any Tree” from ‘Children Of The Earth: Environmental Songs For Kids Of All Ages’ (Joe Reilly Music—2007)]

REILLY: My parents are both musicians. They’re both singers, and my dad plays the upright bass, as well. And they both play guitar. And so I grew up, really, literally, since I was in the womb with music all around.

REILLY (singing): …. Amphibitti – phibitti-phibitti-an…. Amphibitti – phibitti-phibitti-an …..(fades under) [Joe Reilly: “Amphibians” & Mammals are from a live performance for LOE]

REILLY: On the CD I really wanted to include the kids’ voices as part of the message, and as part of the expression. And so, I invited the kids to sing with me on several of the songs and then, I also interviewed them. I just wanted to give them a voice because I feel like, you know, the small voices are not heard and I wanted to give a little space on my project for those voices to come through.

(Photo: Chris Reilly)

So I just asked them questions like “What’s important to you about the Earth?” “Why do you care about nature?” “Why do you care about the Earth?” “What message do you have for adults and for the world about what we can do to help the Earth, to help heal the Earth?”

CHILD 1: You should ride your bike in the summer or whenever it’s warm enough to ride your bike instead of using a car because it’ll give you exercise and it will help the Earth.
CHILD 2: to use cars that use sunlight and no gas.
CHILD 3: using public transportation is better because it keeps more cars off the road.
CHILD 4: try walking.

REILLY: My hope is that those voices can help remind adults that we need to really take responsibility for our actions and how they’re affecting other people and other plants and living things and the future generations.

REILLY: (singing) Dogs, cats, hedgehogs, camels, these are all animals known as mammals. Horses, rabbits, humans, too, that’s right, I’m a mammal…..(fades under) [“The Animal Song” from Children Of The Earth: Environmental Songs for Kids Of All Ages (Joe Reilly Music 2007)]

REILLY: I guess sometimes I’ll sit down with a group and say “What do you want to write a song about?” and then they may shout out something like “mammals” for instance. So, okay, so we have a topic – mammals – and so, describe to me what a mammal is. You know, tell me, what are different examples of mammals, what are the habitats that mammals live in?

Joe Reilly and children from the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor, MI at the "Children of the Earth" recording session. (Photo: Francie Krawcke)

REILLY (singing): Deer and rabbits are mammals in the forest, so many mammals that we have to sing our chorus. It goes: Dogs, cats, hedgehogs, camels, these are all animals known as mammals

REILLY: I was thinking about, you know, the process of songwriting. It’s kind of a hard process to describe but working with kids and writing songs has been really helpful to me. I’ve learned a lot about how to just be open to possibilities that I might not have thought of when first starting to write the songs.

REILLY (singing): I am a crow, and I sound like CAW, CAW…(KIDS JOIN IN) We are all brothers and sisters…

REILLY: It’s my hope that this album, that this project can be a source of connection for kids. That it can help them build relationships to the Earth that are sustaining for the Earth, but also for the kids, for the kids’ sake.

REILLY (singing): I am a little kid, I live in Michigan….

Joe Reilly. (Photo: Linda Wan)

REILLY: I think I’ll always be a teacher. My mom’s a teacher, my grandma was a teacher, and it’s in my blood (laughs) and so I think, you know, I’ll always be an environmental educator ‘cause that’s something that is so true to me and I’ll always be a songwriter so these are things that I carry with me…whether or not they pay the bills, that’s up to the universe (laughs).

REILLY (singing): We are all brothers and sisters, we are all related.

CURWOOD: Joe Reilly is an environmental educator at the Leslie Nature and Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Check out our website loe.org for more information about Joe.



Joe Reilly's website


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