Brett Dennen's passion for social change began at an early age. Growing up, his parents encouraged wider world perspectives, and he spent much of his time growing organic vegetables and listening to Paul Simon's "Graceland."
Finding his place as a popular touring musician, Brett now uses his nightly platform to bridge socially conscious music, people and work. His Love Speaks initiative gives community nonprofits a stage at his shows, his partnership with CLIF® BAR GreenNotes means his touring practices are eco-friendly, and songs like "Hope for the Hopeless" all speak to his commitment to service.
It's important he uses his success to inspire others because, Brett says: "I'd rather inspire people to make change, than to eat corn chips."
It's no surprise this six-foot redhead is equal parts activist and singer, educator and songwriter. The roots of his social activism came early.
Brett grew up in Northern California, hiking, camping and growing organics. He credits his parents as early influences on his love of the environment, as well as his passion for social change.
At camp one summer, Brett learned to write, sing and play music. A few years later, as a camp counselor, he learned the power of mentoring and uniting people.
It all clicked. A couple of years after college, when he found himself unemployed, Brett took out his pocketful of songs, and hit the road.
But not just any road. And with not just any message. Through a partnership with CLIF BAR GreenNotes, Brett has put environmentally-friendly touring practices into place.
"Any independent artist knows that touring can be a costly and wasteful experience," he says. "GreenNotes is helping artists like myself live up to the messages that are behind our music."
From fueling the tour bus with biodiesel, to recycling on board the bus and backstage, from requesting organic food backstage at all the shows, to minimizing the idling of the bus when not in use, Brett has made this world "just a little more comfortable to both live and play in."
And speaking of playing, Brett found himself on the road for much of his time.
As it became more difficult to put energy into working with any one nonprofit organization, Brett founded Love Speaks to share his stage with local organizations doing good work. The band gives time to local nonprofits, who take the stage to empower local activism.
"When we leave town, at least we know we've made some introductions that will helpfully benefit that community."
Has volunteering changed any of Brett's beliefs?
"Volunteering has strengthened my belief that it really is better to give than to receive." he says. "I am fortunate enough to find myself on a larger stage with more people to talk to. I'm also offered a lot of opportunities — I've recently donated a song to Hard Rock International to put on a compilation album that will raise money to aid those facing hunger in the world. Being part of a global awareness-raising campaign feels really good."
"After all," Brett concludes, "music is the magic of change."