At the end of the Vietnam war, Lynn and Morris Walker––creators of The EarthWalkers family band––were in the Vietnam jungle performing for U.S. soldiers when it started to pour. The power went out, the soldiers pulled their ponchos over their heads and together used their flashlights to illuminate the duo. Despite the soaking rain, Lynn and Morris continued to play their instruments and sing.
Years later in a state park near Knoxville, Tennessee, Lynn and Morris found themselves performing for a group of 500 Boy Scouts in an eerily similar scenario. As they sang about eagles, it began to rain, the power went out and the Boy Scouts pulled their parkas over their heads. The group of boys held up their flashlights to see the couple.
“Morris and I looked at each other with the chill of de'ja vous and smiled and kept going,” said Lynn. “We won't forget that night ever.”
The EarthWalkers––a family folk band with an environmental message––grew out of Lynn and Morris’ adventurous experiences. The two folk singers traveled the country performing for public schools, hospitals, prisoners, reform school students and more, delivering a message of environmental stewardship and appreciation for the natural world.
“Morris and I did a lot of traveling around the world and saw that things were not so good environmentally in many countries,” said Lynn. “This was disturbing to us and we felt that music could move mountains and so we wanted to do our little part.”
When they were able, Lynn and Morris brought their two young children, Skye and Amoris, into the band as well, homeschooling them as they traveled around the country living in their Chevy Gladiator van and Silverstreak trailer.
“We were doing the van life way back before it was popular,” said Skye, who now works as a muralist, artist and designer.
The EarthWalkers were on a mission to bring environmental education to children and adults, regardless of class or background. Rather than performing at more traditional music venues, the family sought out places where their message could be understood and developed. Schools assemblies were often their platforms and young children regularly comprised their audience.
“The kids we performed for really liked us,” said Amoris, a documentary filmmaker and owner of Hot Tea Media. “It was the strangest and most wonderful feeling to have people love you just because you’re on stage playing music.”
While a more “normal” childhood occasionally crossed their minds, Amoris and Skye explained that they experienced so much more within the country and the natural world than many other children were able to.
“ We were able to travel the country and see the natural places most students only read about in books,” said Amoris. “Some of those places had long-term impacts on our lives.”
When her children were very young, Lynn said she recalled reading a psychology study that kids between the ages of six and nine weren’t dreaming about what they wanted to be when they grew up because they didn’t believe there was a future.
“And I thought, we need to do something,” said Lynn. “Is that what we’re doing, taking away the dreams of children?”
By touring the country and teaching their children about art and music while educating others about the environment, Lynn and Morris hoped they could provide a space for dreaming. Both Amoris and Skye expressed that they couldn’t imagine their childhood any other way.
While the family still plays music when they all gather together, Lynn and Morris have moved into video production and writing, while Skye works as a professional artist and Amoris works as a documentary filmmaker and digital content producer.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is their passion for the environmental movement and social justice. Teaching children is still an especially important aspect of the family’s life.
“If you teach the children they will go home and teach their parents,” said Amoris. “They will become the stewards of the earth.”
To learn more about the EarthWalkers, check out their documentary here.
Creative Writer & Journalist
Anja is a professional freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in such places as Terrain.org and Zoomorphic magazine. Keep up with her at anjasemanco.com.