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Rock singer Browne receives LEAF award

Jackson Browne has received many awards and recognitions throughout his career as a singer and songwriter, including an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is his role as an ecological advocate, however, that the Nicholas School for the Environment wants to recognize.

Browne has been named the recipient of the second annual Duke LEAF Award for Lifetime Environmental Achievement in the Fine Arts, officials announced last week. He will visit campus April 17 to accept the award in Page Auditorium. Browne will be accompanied by artist Dianna Cohen, who is Browne’s girlfriend. Cohen uses plastic shopping bags as her primary artistic medium.

The executive committee of the Nicholas School’s Board of Visitors selected Browne for this year’s award because his body of work reflects an advocacy for the planet and the link that exists between people and the natural world, according to a University news release.

“This is an award for artistic work,” Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, said. “The artistic work makes a statement about the environment and connects people to the environment through that medium. We picked someone who writes songs where the environment is depicted in a way that causes people to connect to it.”

Actor Robert Redford received the first LEAF honor last year. The award was established to honor artists whose works have inspired others to help create a more sustainable future, according to the news release.

“People are not being connected up to the environment in a certain emotional, visceral way,” Chameides said. “Artists play a really important role in helping to make that connection. So the purpose of the award is to first recognize that role and then bring attention to that so that other artists will understand that it is an important area to express themselves.”

Browne has been actively involved in ecological work since the 1970s, when he founded Musicians United for Safe Energy with Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt and John Hall to protest nuclear energy. Browne was also identified by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the most influential musicians of his generation, the news release states.

“Browne embodies somebody who is engaged in a struggle for a cleaner, greener world,” Ariel Dorfman, Walter Hines Page research professor of literature and Latin American studies and adviser to the Nicholas School’s Board of Visitors, said. “He brings such concerns into his art itself.”

During the weekend of April 17, Browne’s visit to the University will also coincide with an exhibition of Cohen’s artwork, which will be on display in Perkins Library.

“Part of the discussion was to make this an award that includes the participation of Dianna,” Dorfman said. “She uses plastic as a form of art installation, so part of the celebration of Jackson will also be a celebration of her work.”



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