Sea Us Rise’s moment of birth came in a bar with my good friend and master musician Ethan Updike after a Deep Purple concert In St Petersburg FL. As the newly minted local lead of The Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% Clean Energy School Districts campaign, I was looking for ways to motivate school administrators to stop paying hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for fossil fuel based power and instead invest in solar arrays. One would think it would be easy in “The Sunshine State” , but decades of the oil industry’s mis-information campaigns and political partisanship has had the effect of creating a deep inertia in the bureaucracy.
We were looking at pictures of the 2019 Global Climate Strike with over 7 million people all over the world protesting as one against the fossil fuel industry. This was the biggest protest in human history. Ethan and I grew curious as to what songs had been written to support this new movement. We started researching, looking for iconic new songs that would serve the movement the way “We Shall Overcome” served The Civil Rights Movement, or as Helen Reddy’s ‘I Am Woman, and Aretha Franklin’s “RESPECT” powered the Feminist movement. Throughout US history every major social movement has been unified and propelled forward by the songs of change that defined them. Pete Seeger’s “Which Side Are You On” stiffened the backs of the union men facing beatings from hired thugs at the coal mines during the Labor Movement. Who can forget how Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Four Dead in Ohio” caused the whole nation to pause after four students protesting the Vietnam war were shot and killed by our own National Guard? Country Joe and the Fish”s “What are we fighting for?” was so beautifully crafted that it made us laugh while at the same time making us feel the waste and pointlessness of war. These are songs not filled with false propaganda but with reason and truth, not anger but steadfast defiance and the certain knowledge that together, we can make change. These are songs that touched the common chords of our humanity and changed the world.
At this moment in history, as our global environment spirals toward catastrophic failure under the weight of man-made pollution, Ethan and I found no songs that filled this void. Then and there, Ethan and I decided to do our bit to change that; and because our cause was righteous and our hearts were pure, God sent us Paula and Sea Us Rise was born.
Michael Kingsford lives in St. Petersburg with his wife Sharon and his 2 daughters Sarah and Lauren. He has dedicated his retirement from decades of real estate finance to working tirelessly to inspire others to clean up the mess that his generation has made.