Ben Sollee is a musician with a thrilling cello-playing style that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B. He’s also known for views on environmental stewardship, speaking out against mountain top removal and touring New England by bicycle last summer. His latest album Half Made Man is out now on Tin Ear Records.
Growing up in Kentucky I didn’t feel particularly empowered as an individual. I lived in the suburbs of Lexington and my family bought most of our food from Sam’s Club. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to pickup the cello in public schools at the age of 9. My relationship with the instrument and music now takes me all over the world: from Lhasa, Tibet to Lawrence, Kansas. It has connected me with thoughtful people and their unique ideas. On this particular day, the cello brought me to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC to exercise my voice as a concerned citizen.
Like nearly everyone, my attention lately has been focused on Sandy and all of her devastating effects on communities along the East Coast. There are so many people dealing with fundamental challenges in their lives at the moment: food, shelter, clean water, etc. These are things that are not debatable or points of policy; they are human needs. The presidential election diverted our attention, but I hope that we’ll remember to keep the human-to-human conversation going. That’s what we truly need to sort through natural disasters, healthcare policy, education, or anything as a country. We are too often willing to sacrifice honest, sincere discussion for winning and losing teams. And everyone’s voice is important! Performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was my way of expressing that desire:
Watching this video I get the knot in my stomach all over again; the feeling of moving against the grain. It can be intimidating to speak up, but it is also invigorating and self-realizing.