August 26, 2020


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Many know Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change. What may be lesser known is that Seeger wrote a special song titled "I Am The Tree You Planted" for TreeUtah, here it is, as told by TreeUtah founder Pepper Provenzano:

During the '80s and the '90s, I was a journalist living in Salt Lake City and concurrently, I had started a non-profit organization that taught tree planting and tree stewardship, tree aftercare, in urbanized areas. So I ended up working all around the state. It was called TreeUtah. At the same time, our daughter was dancing with a University of Utah affiliated organization for children, and Pete Seeger was coming to town. I knew in advance that Pete Seeger was coming to Salt Lake City in the spring of 1994 to sing with a performance of the Children's Dance Theatre at the University of Utah. I wrote, requesting that he would write a song for the purpose of tree planting. A couple of months later, when he came to town, I received a phone call saying, "Could you go and pick up Pete? He’s staying up at the Alta Lodge," and I was so excited, you know, I went up first thing in the morning. Pete came to the door and said, "Oh, Pepper, nice to meet you, I've got something for you." And he said, "I read your letter, and last night, 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning,” evidently he was moved sufficiently to... to wake up and write this song. I attach the letter I wrote, hoping to inspire him to write a song for that 25th anniversary of Earth Day, and the three-page song, I Am the Tree You Plant. 25 years later, just before the 50th Earth Day anniversary, I brought the song to Antique Roadshow and they featured it. 

Pepper heard it has been subsequently, played as far away as China. Over the years, Pete Seeger used his voice for world peace and environmental conservation. And he always encouraged us all to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger and his contribution to planting trees and building community.