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Chuck Leavell: From Sea Level to tree level

By Bruce Rosenstein
One of the best examples of a multi-dimensional person living in more than one world is Chuck Leavell. He is probably best known as a top-level pianist who has played with The Rolling Stones for nearly 30 years and was with the Allman Brothers Band before that. He has also led his own band, Sea Level, and his discography is jaw-dropping. But as his recent bylined piece, A Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour de Forest, in The Wall Street Journal shows, he also operates on many other important levels: operator (with his wife, Rose Lane) of a tree farm in Georgia, conservationist, environmental/sustainable development advocate, author and tech entrepreneur. His recent TedXAtlanta video about balance in life and balance in development demonstrates the personal characteristics that have made him a success: he comes across as passionate, articulate, genial and informed. Although I never met him during my music world days, I’ve known about him since the beginning of his music career in the early 1970s. I’m sure he meets and interacts with a fascinating diversity of people in each of his roles, and that his involvement in so many worlds feeds an intense intellectual curiosity. It’s encouraging that he has attracted so much attention. His most recent book, Growing a Better America, was published earlier this year. In recent weeks, besides the WSJ piece, there has been a New York Times college football-themed blog post interview with him, Postcard From Alabama: Playing for the Stones, Rooting for the Tide; and Chuck Leavell On Piano Jazz, a recent piece on NPR.org that includes his enjoyable and informative 2003 interview/music appearance on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. We should all be grateful that Leavell is truly living in more than one world.
(You can find more of Bruce Rosenstein’s work at Living in More Than One World.)