Commencement 2017: A Talk by Honorary Degree Recipient Charles Leavell

Grammy Award-winning keyboardist Chuck Leavell can be heard on the works of The Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, The Black Crowes, Indigo Girls, and many others. He is a nationally recognized conservationist.

Leavell, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, started his first band in 1966 at the age of fourteen. A largely self-taught keyboard artist, he became a session musician and later performed with Dr. John, The Marshall Tucker Band, and Gregg Allman. He joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1972, and his piano and keyboard work may be heard on works by Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, George Harrison, Indigo Girls, Blues Traveler, John Mayer, Lee Ann Womack, and many other artists.

Leavell then joined the rock/jazz/blues group Sea Level, which released five critically acclaimed albums. In 1982, he became keyboardist and musical director for The Rolling Stones, a position he still holds. In 2012, he received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award with other members of the Allman Brothers Band.

In addition to his long and illustrious music career, Leavell has extensive experience in forestry and conservation—work he regards as equally significant. He became a tree farmer in the early 1980s, when he and his wife, Rose Lane Leavell, created Charlane Plantation, a 2,500-acre tree farm and hunting preserve. The Leavells are two-time Georgia Tree Farmers of the Year and in 1999 were named National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year for their work in sustainable forestry. Leavell is the author of several books on forestry as well as an autobiography about his life in music. He serves on the boards of the American Forest Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities. He co-founded The Mother Nature Network, an environmental news and information website in 2009. In 2012, he was made an Honorary Forest Ranger by the U.S. Forest Service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *