Music, Nature Find 'Common Ground'



An album of eight original recordings by Toledo musician Thaddaeus Washington, set for release February 23, is a collaboration between music and nature, incorporating sounds from local Metroparks.

“Common Ground” blends familiar sounds from the woods, prairies and rivers with guitar to create soothing music. For example, the track “Morning Dew” includes rushing water and birds chirping.

“I believe the record is going to put people in the moment that we were able to experience,” said Washington. “I let the sounds guide me.”

“This gift is for all people to enjoy while at a park, or to take the park with them,” said Matt Killam, chief outreach officer for Metroparks Toledo. “The collaboration was not the brainchild of Metroparks, we just played our role of convener.”

Killam and Washington teamed up recently to provide a series of gatherings in the Metroparks called Mindful Meetup that brings people together for meditation and sharing. About 50 people participate in each session.

“Metroparks has long been a place for physical movement -- running, biking, walking, paddling climbing -- but I felt like I have underserved another important aspect, mental health,” Killam said. “COVID reminded us of nature’s intrinsic value. Perhaps the muscle it supports the most is between our ears and in our chest. Nature make us whole.”

Killam introduced Washington to Tim Schetter, a wildlife biologist and chief natural resources officer at Metroparks, who took Washington and Darrell Sheares to locations where they could record ambient sounds in natural settings.

“I have never met a biologist in person and had a chance to just talk,” said Washington, who added that he had also never before ventured into the woods in the dark. “The night just sounds different,” he said.

“The nature sounds add so much depth,” said Schetter, who is also a guitar player.

The unlikely pairing of musician and biologist exemplified a new theme that Metroparks will launch this spring with the tagline “Common Ground,” which became the album title. The phrase describes the Metroparks literally and symbolically as publicly owned places where people from all walks of life come together to enjoy nature.

The album is available for download at no cost starting Friday, February 23, on all streaming platforms. It will also be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going toward Metroparks conservation work.

Click Here to download the music.

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