Amy Grant Joins Pepperdine on Earth Day in Nature, Music, and Community

Grant performs her new single "Trees We'll Never See" and plants fruit trees at the former LA Pepperdine Campus.

Amy Grant at the Associates Dinner Photo Credit: Ron Hall

On Earth Day Saturday April 22, six-time Grammy award-winning Christian singer, songwriter, and philanthropist Amy Grant joined Pepperdine at the former George Pepperdine College Campus, now home of the Price Christian Schools and at the 47th Annual Pepperdine Associates Dinner later that evening. Grant is a recent recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, an award honoring lifetime contributions to the American arts. She has also sold 30 million albums worldwide, distinctly having the first Christian record to go platinum, and has 22 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

Grant visited the Frederick K.C. Price III Christian Schools which boasts a 100% high school graduation rate and 100% college acceptance rate for graduates of the school according to their website. Grant was joined by Pepperdine students and faculty as they planted three fruit trees on the Price Schools campus with the schoolchildren to honor Earth Day and provide a lasting benefit to the students to come.

Grant told the Beacon, “I have always loved the idea of Earth Day. I’m a nature girl at heart and being outdoors is my favorite place to be. I think it is important that we care for our planet and treat it with respect and I try to do my part by recycling, having a garden, etc. I jumped at the opportunity to plant trees at Price Christian School as a way to celebrate Earth Day but it also gave me a chance to roll up my sleeves a bit and work alongside some of the Pepperdine students. I always think people get to know each other better when they have a common goal they are all trying to accomplish, and so in a very short amount of time we were able to plant trees, celebrate the long-standing relationship between Price Christian School and Pepperdine University, and work together for something that mattered. I can only imagine what those trees will look like in another 50 years. Makes my heart smile…”

Photo Credit: Ron Hall

Grant performed her new single “Trees We’ll Never See,” which comments on the work we do and the legacy left behind after we are gone.

The Beacon asked her what advice she had for students on living purpose-filled lives and “planting trees” for others.

She said, “I think it is so important that each of us pay attention to how we are gifted and to find something we are passionate about and that gives us purpose. We are all uniquely wired by a God who loves us beyond what we can imagine. No two people have the same path. Finding the right path sometimes includes a detour or two but we must keep on trusting that we are right on time.”

According to a university announcement, Madeline Butler, principal of Price Schools, said: “We’re very excited about our tree-planting event, and having Amy Grant come and sing is a pleasure and a blessing within itself. […] The collaboration between Price Schools and Pepperdine University is exciting for us, too. […] As the trees grow, the children will be able to eat the fruit of the labor of Pepperdine University and of Price Schools.”

The Pepperdine students at the tree planting thought the work they were doing was impactful as well. Conor Kramer, senior biology major, was credited with saying, “This is about something bigger than ourselves […] The trees that we plant now will be a blessing to students who aren’t even born yet.” Olivia Bretzius, senior sustainability major agreed, saying, “It’s so important to engage kids in learning about the environment, teaching them to get their hands in the dirt, especially since today is Earth Day. […] Sustainability means so much to me. Planting trees is just one way that we can mitigate climate change, and it’s important to my faith, too, because I really appreciate God’s creation.”

Amy Grant, Price School and Pepperdine converge to plant trees
Photo Credit: Ron Hall

The Associates Dinner later that evening was well attended with several hundred donors, faculty, staff, and friends of the university showing support for Pepperdine. The Mullin family was honored in particular for their support of The Mountain, the future student union and events center, and for their history of generous Pepperdine support. The Mullins have given more to the university than any other benefactor except the founder of Seaver College Mrs. Seaver. Terry Mullin passed away on April 25th three days later at the age of 101 according to a university announcement.

The theme of President Gash’s speech that night was “Age to Age: Faith, Truth, Excellence, and Character.” He spoke on the faith mission and how Pepperdine seeks to be unabashedly Christian. He addressed the “relentless” pursuit of truth as the affirmation statement says. He spoke of the excellence Pepperdine strives for in arts, sports, academics, and international programs. And he highlighted the character of Pepperdine graduates and the impact they have in the world.

President Gash Speaks on Faith, Truth, Excellence, and Character
Photo Credit: Ron Hall

After the President’s speech, Pepperdine’s Won by One a capella group opened for Amy Grant who joined them on stage. She went on to perform a number of her classics and her new song “Trees We’ll Never See.” Speaking on the creation of the single, Grant said “It was written by a longtime friend and producer Marshall Altman and a co-writer named Michael White. Marshall played me the song and I loved it instantly. I loved the imagery of planting things and tending to them, helping them grow, even if we will never see the final results. I was so honored they let me record the song.”

Amy Grant performs with Won by One
Photo Credit: Ron Hall

On coming to Pepperdine, she said, “My dear friend Gabe Vasquez used to work at my record label and he was instrumental in getting me to participate in the fundraiser. It is a small world! My family has always believed in the importance of education and it was my honor to be included at such a special and exciting time at the university.”

She also remarked on a number of close friends and family who attended the university and connect her to the community.

President Gash told the Beacon, “Like many Christians in my generation, I grew up listening to Amy Grant’s gospel music on almost a daily basis. Pepperdine was so blessed by her music and her heart.”

Many echoed his sentiments and will be looking forward to the next time she comes back to Pepperdine.

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