Grammy-award winning country music artists Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks came to the Harvard Ed School today. Wow–that sentence sounds weird, right?! That pretty much sums up Harvard’s offerings–there are always a million (and unexpected) things happening. I’m so happy that they stopped by HGSE while making a tour stop here in Boston.
Here are a few ways Garth and Trisha schooled us on LIFE here at HGSE today–but first an important anecdote about why I personally love them and their music.
I grew up in East Tennessee–the same county another famous country music star, Dolly Parton, hails from–so naturally country music, particularly from the 1990s, is near and dear to me. Hearing songs from Garth and Trisha have that Proust-and-the-madeleine-effect. Our senses trigger nostalgia and memory in such a strange and beautiful way. One line of “The Dance” by Garth or “She’s in Love with the Boy” by Trisha, and I am sitting in my grandfather’s old Ford pickup driving down the road on a hot July day. Their music is very special to me, and it was a delight to see and hear from them today!
Trisha and Garth’s Life Lessons
1. It takes courage to follow your dreams–but it’s worth it. Throughout, they shared stories and advice about how it takes courage to dream big and make things happen. Garth and Trisha reflected about the courage it took to leave their hometowns to pursue their passion for music as well as the courage to keep moving forward after some rough patches.
2. Perseverance. In the same vein, they discussed how failure is often the path to getting better. Trisha laughed and shared how when she first started out, she was singing in a bowling alley. Garth shared his story as well, starting out in “Willie’s Saloon,” covering Billy Joel songs. They didn’t give up!
3. Generosity. Trisha and Garth shared their values, one of which kept coming back to being generous and making a contribution to society, a value they emphasized as a high priority to instill in their children. They also shared about some of their work with Habitat for Humanity, Trisha’s work empowering young girls to dream big and be themselves, and Garth’s own Teammates for Kids, which helps support programming for kids who need it the most.
4. Take risks and be yourself. Garth talked a lot about how he wasn’t always the most popular or applauded and actually chastised by the music community in the earlier 1990s for his music, such as the line “When we’re free to love anyone we choose” from his song that speaks about social justice, “We Shall be Free,” but that he was just being himself. Trisha talked about how her cookbooks and cooking show was the last thing she thought would happen but that it was a good risk to take as it’s a fun second career.
All in all, it was a delightful afternoon at HGSE! I wonder who will stroll onto Appian Way next…
Joshua Jenkins is an Master’s of Education candidate in the Language and Literacy strand, pursuing licensure as a reading specialist. Josh was a special educator and reading interventionist in New Orleans and is interested in the research on reading disabilities and what all grown-ups can do to help bolster reading development for all children.