The Trust for Holly Williams’ Land: country music scion speaks up for nature
Singer-songwriter Holly Williams grew up with an affinity for wide open spaces, thanks to time spent on the farms and ranches of her father and grandfather, country music legends Hank Williams Jr. and Sr.
Today, the Nashville-based artist finds some of her most creative inspiration in our country’s wildest, greenest places. So when we approached Holly about becoming the voice of The Trust for Public Land’s #OurLand campaign, the partnership was a natural fit. You can hear Holly’s gentle twang—and read her reasons for sharing her support—in the film and Q&A below.
What are your earliest memories of nature and open space?
Probably with my grandparents or my dad. I was born in Alabama and moved to Nashville when I was two—we had a yard but no large open spaces. My dad lived in a place called Terrace, Tennessee, about two hours away. In Terrace, there was tons and tons of open space, rolling hills and lakes. He had 800 acres and a farm and a cabin he built there. So when we were young we would be so excited to go out there for the weekend and 4-wheel all over the property and go fishing and hang out with the dogs.
Also my grandparents had a large property in Louisiana with cows, horses, dogs, and tons of acreage. So between the two of those, I was outside a ton, hanging outside with family. Nature was always really important to me, and I got to get away from the city at least once a month and just be out in wide spaces.
Do you have any favorite songs about wide open spaces and nature?
I always go back to the song “Country Roads” by John Denver. Whether or not I’m on a county road, there’s something about that song that I just connect with. Whenever I’m out in the Northern California area in those great outdoor spaces, I’m always thinking about “California Stars” from Wilco. Those are two I tend to love. Then of course the good, old “This Land is Your Land,” will forever be a classic.
Where do you go now when you want to connect with nature? What is your perfect place?
There is a place 30 minutes out of Nashville called Leapers Fork. A lot of people have country homes out there, and some people have trailers on the land. It’s an old town with the old-fashioned post office and grocery store, and a lot of the land is national trust land so it can never be built on, and it is just stunning. Thats my place that I go. We take our dogs and it’s got tons of creeks and rivers, and camping areas and hiking areas for miles. You can stop off at any of the exits and go for a picnic, or just walk around. It’s kind of my little haven out there.
And as bad as it sounds, technology works out there. So some days I’ve gone out with a blanket and brought my iPhone or laptop and worked from the field, done all my emails and work calls. It’s such a peaceful place; I always recommend it to people coming to Nashville. We’re really lucky here, because you can drive out just 10 minutes from the city and see rolling farms and cows and horse farms. The traffic is never too bad, and you can get out really quickly and be in a beautiful area.
How do you connect with nature when you’re on the road?
I find places that are a little off the beaten path. For instance, when I’m working in Seattle, I’ve stayed in Woodinville, Washington, about 20 minutes out in the country open spaces. In upstate New York, I stay in Woodstock. I’m so busy and constantly on the road traveling—finding peace and green grass is where my serenity is.
Why do you think it’s important that everyone have easy access to parks and natural places?
I have read the studies about what nature does for your health and how it calms your stress levels. I’ve always been fascinated by those studies because I find [the experience to be] so true in my own life. But you know, to me, that is why God made nature and what we were intended for. In the old days, even though work was very grueling and a lot harder, we were much more connected to nature. Being outside, with your feet in the grass, soaking up vitamin D—it truly does something for your soul and your mind and even your eyes, just to look at nature.
To me, nature makes me feel smaller. We can easily get overwhelmed with our own problems and our day-to-day issues, and feel so bogged down. But when we get out in nature, you can feel like you’re one with it and you feel like everything is going to be okay. It’s very soothing and calming to me, and very healthy and essential. Being in nature is important to my creativity.
Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your story with us!
Thank you so much for everything! I think what you all are doing is amazing and I’m happy to be a part of it.
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