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Gigi Love spent her 20s working her way through the labors of love by taking her experiences to the guitar. Now in her 40s and in a place of blissful contentment the Utah singer-songwriter seeks to focus her musical talents on inspiring a universal appreciation for the Earth through her national parks project.
"Now my inspiration comes from wanting something bigger for everyone, not just myself," she said.
With her guitar, mandolin and ukulele in tow, Love has driven from east to west and places in between to write a song for each national park she visits. In July, for example, she camped in six parks over the course of 28 days; so far she's been to 12 parks with a few more to go before ending her journey. The songs will ultimately end up on a full-length album.
"No one has ever written a traditional folk Americana song for our national parks," said Love. "I reached a point in my career where I am able to channel the spirit in each park and give it a voice and a song."
Since beginning the project in May 2015, Love has released five tracks, including a three-song EP, that have been played on folk radio stations across the globe. As the nation celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service this month, she hopes her songs will remind listeners to appreciate the beauty of the parks and encourage preservation of these public lands and Mother Earth in general.
Love is gearing up to head to Nashville to record the full-length album, with a release set in December. (Utah parks will make up three songs on the album.) After the album release, she will be performing in national parks from Maine to the California Redwoods. Love, who plays an acoustic show at The Garage on Beck on Sunday, Aug. 14, recently talked with The Tribune about the project and how the parks rejuvenated her music and her soul.
Music in the parks
A lot of the national parks have an artist in residence. They always have poets, writers and painters, but they never have musicians. Sometimes there's classical music written in the parks that's online and people go into the parks to get inspired, but no one has specifically made an album dedicated to each park that they visit with a special song. Last year, when I visited Acadia National Park, I had the idea in my mind: "I am going to visit this national park and I am going to write a song for it." After camping, backpacking and riding my bike with my husband, one night by the campfire the whole song came to me about everything we had been doing in the park and naming the special places we had visited and the historical people that helped influence the creation of each park. I heard it come together. It was like [its] spirit validated to me that this was something that we needed. People like John Muir and Steven Mather all those who fought for our national parks I could kind of feel their energy rallying behind me. This is something that the world needs right now.
Water for the soul
There is usually some great swimming hole or river or some body of water that you're allowed to swim in at the parks. Every park that I have gone to so far, I jump in the water. I figure since our bodies are made up of mostly water, the cells in my body resonate with the water in the park when I jump in. I truly feel like it's the reset button. When I go to a new park I jump in the river and I forget about the last park I was in. I connect with that park specifically because the water molecules carry all the energy from that area. I feel like I am being given my songs from the water.
I am hoping that people will get out and connect with the beauty that the Earth has to share with us. If we keep on living a life that is disconnected from nature, we will eventually consume all of our resources. We are a species capable of killing the planet because we are so driven by materialism and consumption. I hope people will get out there and feel the love for the Earth, and the parks will ignite a passion of wanting to protect and preserve this Earth not just the parks, but in our everyday communities to start making those changes.
Singing the parks
We released the three-song EP to over 300 radio stations mostly folk DJs that play folk and Americana around the world. In June, my song "Yosemite Gold" was No. 9 on the folk DJ charts. It looks like the songs are getting played every day on radio stations from Canada, Australia, Israel, Germany and all across the U.S. It's so exciting and this is probably the biggest response I have ever had on any of my albums. I think it's because it's the right time for people to care about this issue. We are all thinking of land issues right now. We are all watching the planet as it changes: as the glaciers melt and as the sea level rises. People are thinking, "What's next?" I want to focus on the beauty. That's one of the things about focusing on the parks is let's focus on the beauty, not the fear. Let's try to imagine the world as we want it to be in 20 years, not as we fear it will be.
Loving the national parks
Gigi Love joins local singer-songwriters for an acoustic performance.
When • Sunday, Aug. 14, 7 p.m.
Where • The Garage on Beck, 1199 Beck St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5; http://www.garageonbeck.com
More online • Gigi Love has three songs from her EP, "National Parks Centennial Songs," available for free download at reverbnation.com/gigilove. For more on Love and her music, visit http://www.gigilove.com .