Who is MUSE?
M.U.S.E. Association is a non-profit conservation organization, as well as a group of musicians and enthusiasts helping the environment through music. Specifically, we create recordings and host concerts raising money for North American wilderness conservation efforts.
M.U.S.E. is an abbreviation for Musicians United to Sustain the Environment. The name also means "the Spirit that Inspires". Music and the Wild places provide the Inspiring Spirit for the people of the MUSE Association. Starting from humble beginnings through a partnership between Walkin' Jim Stoltz and Craig Wagner, the seed concept has quickly taken root and grown to include musicians and supporters from all over the country, and now globally.
Our focus is to support grass-roots conservation efforts and environmental education for all ages, to be better stewards of our natural heritage.
The MUSE Community.
MUSE represents a growing community of people and activism. Many of the MUSE musicians are regularly criss-crossing the country meeting people at schools, community centers, and concert halls, singing songs or performing music inspired by the urge to preserve our natural heritage. Numerous individuals, groups, and businesses help us through donations of expertise, advice, and funding. Perhaps we're a bit partial, but the enthusiasm and "giving" nature of these people has made it a tremendously exciting process!
The MUSE Conservation Projects
Listening carefully to the input from our supporters and musicians, the MUSE Board of Directors selects only the most pragmatic conservation efforts for our funding. We evaluate many existing conservation projects and donate to just a handful where we believe our pinpoint funding can yield tangible results. We are particularly interested in efforts to protect endangered or threatened species, preserve existing wilderness habitats, and support sustainable ecosystems. We value your input on the conservation efforts that are most important to you.
How can I help?
We welcome the contribution of your time, talents, ideas and resources to help us advance our conservation efforts. Please contact us at www.musemusic.org and give us ideas on worthy conservation programs to fund, or to suggest other ways in which you can help. Would you like to sponsor a MUSE benefit concert in your home town? We look forward to hearing from you.
Keep the MUSE Flowing!
We invite you to join with us in music and environmental conservation. Working creatively with musicians, environmental groups, and with you, we hope to keep the MUSE "the "Inspiring Spirit" alive, well, and making a continuous positive impact on our natural environment.
Please visit our web site at: http://www.musemusic.org
One Land, One Heart
From Talking Leaves (Winter '99 edition)
By Chris Roth
This is probably the best various artists compilation of specifically ecologically-oriented music I've encountered.
Eighteen talented songwriters/artists contributed to this album, with proceeds supporting wilderness education and conservation programs. A migratory herd by nature, these musicians roam the backwaters of North America foraging for ways to sustain the environment, leaving tracks of music on the souls of those they meet.
Environmental music can fall prey to two apparently opposite self-defeating tendencies. Some music of this type becomes so stridently anti-eco-destruction that it takes on the conflictual spirit of what it is fighting, becoming just as violent and unpleasant as what it rails against, while conveying none of the beauty it seeks to preserve. It can seem to be angry, self-righteous, propagandistic (in the worst sense), and hypocritical. The other danger is that of becoming too mainstream, of simply inserting green lyrics into music whose non-lyrical aspects don't convey any kind of ecological sensibility.
The effect of either of these pitfalls is to take the heart out of the message. Most listeners experience either fatigue at being preached at, or alienation, or apathy. The music is ineffectual in catalyzing real change because, like the environmental destruction it deplores, it is inherently unholistic. So it is a real accomplishment when an album of music all about environmental themes can produce a sense of holism and hope.
The aptly titled One Land, One Heart accomplishes just that, evoking the beauty of the American land, sadness at environmental destruction, but also true hope for the future, a celebration of the spirit that sings or lies latent within all of us. This music recognizes that ultimately it is not an us vs. them struggle, but a collective human journey toward wholeness that we need to undertake: We all live on the same Earth / We fish and swim in the same oceans / We breathe the same air and gaze at the very same moon / We feel the warmth of the same sun, we are one (from a song by Joyce Johnson Rouse). Both lyrically and musically, these selections are intelligent, genuine, rooted in real connections with the earth.
Skillfully woven together by Craig Wagner (whose piano solo Genesis opens the album) and Jim Stoltz, they form a seamless whole in which, despite the diversity of styles, nothing seems jarring or out of place. Contributors include musicians both well-known and lesser-known, but equally talented; the accompanying booklet features not only lyrics to every song but also biographical and contact information for each artist.
Many are activists and environmental advocates as well as musicians. John McCutcheon and Paul Winter, probably the best-known of the M.U.S.E. members, contribute instrumentals, while nationally recognized singer-songwriters like Magpie, Dakota Sid Clifford, Alice Di Micele, Joanne Rand, Dana Lyons, Walkin Jim Stoltz, and Libby Roderick share their original songs. Lesser-known (to me) artists whose songs are just as worthwhile, include Susan Grace, Karen Goldberg, David Elias, Lydia Adams Davis, Peter and Lou Berryman, and Joyce Rouse. These are people who, individually and collectively, are making a difference, providing education and inspiration for a future in which One Land, One Heart is our collective, consciously experienced reality. (Today, its more often an unconscious reality, leading to broken lands and broken hearts.)
M.U.S.E. is a growing, grassroots organization which invites participation at all levels. Most of these songs are eminently singable, especially with the aid of the lyric booklet, so purchase of this album will not only support worthy causes but also add to your song repertoire.