DENVER - Rolling Stones' keyboardist Chuck Leavell launched a national songwriting contest in conjunction with the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on June 21. NACS is a title sponsor of the Capitol Christmas Tree and also will be providing fuel and other amenities for the seven-vehicle caravan that brings the tree from Colorado's White River National Forest to Washington, D.C., this November.
The songwriting contest, Sing 4 The Tree, is seeking songs "that get people thinking about our forests, the important role they play in our lives, the pleasure and joy we derive from their beauty, the resources they provide that contribute to our well being and the importance of their sustained health to our continuing survival,€ notes the application form. Songwriters are encouraged to create and submit songs that address environmental issues, inspire hope for the future, or better yet, successfully accomplish both. The grand prize winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize and have the song featured at a VIP congressional event scheduled for the tree lighting ceremony in December in Washington, D.C.
Submissions are welcome from both amateur and professional songwriters. Contestants can submit as many songs as they wish in one of 11 different genres, including rock, jazz, hip hop and R&B. The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2012.
A distinguished panel of music industry professionals, led by Leavell, will review and select 12 finalists, including the grand prize winner. Winners will be announced at an event in Aspen, Colorado, on September 15. Entry details are available at sing4thetree.com.
The annual practice of displaying a Christmas tree on the U.S. Capitol grounds is a relatively recent tradition. Records from the Architect of the Capitol in 1919 indicate that a Christmas tree was purchased that year; however, it was not until 1964 that a definite procedure and a tree-lighting ceremony were established. Each year since then a tree has been chosen from a different National Forest, transported to Washington, D.C., and decorated.
This year, the Capitol Christmas Tree will come from the White River National Forest. In November, the selected tree will make a cross-country journey €" refueling at NACS retail member companies €" and arrive at the U.S. Capitol in time for the 2012 holiday season. The lighting of the tree will take place in December. NACS co-sponsored the 2010 Capitol Christmas Tree for its 14-state journey from Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming to Washington, D.C. Learn about the tree's journey in this video.
In addition to NACS, the Colorado Tourism Office, Vail Resorts, Mack Trucks, Aspenskico, Outside magazine, Woolrich, Trans Rockies Race and New Earth Depot are providing support for the Capitol Christmas Tree.
Earlier this year, Chuck Leavell received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with The Allman Brothers Band. Since 1982, he has served as The Rolling Stones' keyboardist both in the studio and on tour. He also has worked with artists including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, The Black Crowes, Gov't Mule, Train and John Mayer. Leavell's latest CD, "Back To The Woods,€ was released in February. He also is a renowned conservationist and his most recent book, "Growing a Better America,€ has been revered by the environmental community as one of the best books on "smart growth.€ In February, he was named an honorary forest ranger by the U.S. Forest Service, an honor that has only been bestowed twice in the Forest Service's history.