Before Lanny Smith became known as “Earthman,” he lived in Nashville writing country songs, which was something he grew tired of doing.
It was in 1992, when Smith showed the world that he was focused on using music as a tool to educate and inspire people to help create a sustainable planet that he received his first $15,000 grant from AT&T for his efforts and became known as “Earthman.”
“Music moves the hearts and the minds of people,” Smith said. “And that’s what my voice is used for.”
Smith began reaching out to people with his love for the earth even before he was granted his nickname.
He once wrote a song about looking through the eyes of a woman astronaut, which centered around a woman looking down upon the earth, admiring it, and speaking to the world with an inspirational voice. He gave the song to Christa McAuliffe, one of the crew members who was killed in the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster.
“I’m not sure if she had it on board, but I do know that she wanted to teach with it,” Smith said.
Smith has been awarded the North American Environmental Educator of the Year and received an award from CSAC, a performing rights agency. He was also given the opportunity tovperform at the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate in Danville.
“It was very cool,” he said.
Smith came to Winchester as the Eco Artist in Residence.
“I call it the Eco Artist in Residence because I’m an artist whose main focus is on the environment. I do things with the arts while teaching about taking care of the earth and about making a difference,” Smith said.
Smith will be holding a concert from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 downtown at the Cairn Coffee House.
“The concert is going to be a multimedia show,” Smith said. “There will be inspirational videos and pictures being shown, and there will be humorous moments and serious moments. There will be no band; just me and the piano.”
The concert will be free of charge, but there will be a love offering. All proceeds will go towards Smith’s ministry.
Though Smith loves what he does, it hasn’t always paid the bills. His family has been the sole inspiration for him to keep doing what he’s doing.
“My wife told me that this is what I’m here to do. I’m here to do my ministry. I’m blessed to have the tools for it — to write songs and to communicate with kids. I also have the belief that we can touch upon the incredibleness of the planet, the gift of life, and the power we have to change the world,” he said.
Smith first began his movement with peace issues, but decided peace was too broad a term. He encouraged people to recycle, plant trees and keep trash picked up off the ground.
“Nothing can stop us from healing what is broken,” he said.
He also started out with getting a degree from the University of Florida in journalism. He said what he learned there is valuable because you have to communicate with people in the line of work that he does now.
Smith also said he was in Florida during Hurricane Andrew. He wrote a song called, “Love Can Build Anything,” which became the theme for rebuilding southern Florida after the hurricane.
Smith is originally from New York, but he has lived in Florida, Nashville and he is now of resident of Winchester. He expresses a desire to visit Europe, where the population is “green” oriented. He would also like to visit the places where his songs have been translated into seven different languages.
“When you hear the music, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. This job can be a test of faith, but I promised a lot of kids that I would never quit fighting for them.”
Smith has been a continued success in reaching out to children with his “Please Don’t Litter” environmental concerts in schools in the area. He also performs at festivals and other venues in the central Kentucky region. As for living in Winchester, he said he will see where the future goes. He resides with his wife, son and two dogs, who do not mind traveling with the gypsy-souled performer.