Spreading Environmental Change Through Music

Entertainer, entrepreneur, and environmental activist AY Young spoke with seniors in Loomis Chaffee’s Global and Environmental Studies Certificate program on March 16 and 18 during two seminar sessions focused on taking action and engaging with others to promote positive change. 

Mr. Young’s upbeat presentation was well-received by the cadre of students, who are working to complete capstone projects for their certificates, which will be presented at Commencement in May.

As one of 17 United Nations youth world leaders, Mr. Young meets with young people to share information about the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and engage them in the organization’s global environmental sustainability work.

Mr. Young, an American musician, won notoriety as a successful contestant on “The X-Factor” television music competition in 2012. While touring the United States following his success on the show, often opening for popular music acts like Wiz Khalifa, FloRida, and T-Pain, Mr. Young said he became aware of the staggering number of people who do not have adequate access to electrical power for their basic needs. He was inspired to conserve energy and find sustainable sources to power his musical performances with large rechargeable batteries that store power drawn from the sun. His concert itinerary was called “The Battery Tour,” and he wrote song lyrics that related to environmental stewardship. The tour focuses on promoting, developing, and aiding in the deployment of sustainability projects, according to his website.

“I believe everyone in the world is an outlet for change, and we need to plug into each other at the community level, school level, and as humans in the world to enact change,” Mr Young told the Loomis students during the videoconference. He added that working together, as opposed to working in independent “siloes,” people can be more effective in changing human behavior and public policy.  

Mr. Young plans to record a fully-sustainable album of 17 tracks (representing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals) and, during the second year of his U.N. leadership term, present 17 concerts in 17 cities that will be powered sustainably and share a message about environmental stewardship. He invited the students to help spread the message in their own communities.

The students watched a video of Mr. Young’s song “Save The Planet,” which was broadcast at President Biden’s inauguration and features the lyrics, “Everybody needs energy, let’s store it up and power the world,” and “What’s your carbon offset?”

At the end of his presentation, the students asked Mr. Young about his experience working in the music business, his strategy for overcoming objections to his message about climate change, and his advice for communicating with diverse audiences about the need for change.

For more about Mr. Young’s music and environmental activism, connect to his professional website.

Visit Loomis Chaffee’s Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies webpage to learn more about the Global and Environmental Studies Certificate program as well as other opportunities available to Loomis students through the center.