Gen Verde. ‘Turn Around’ to save the Earth
An interview with the performers of Gen Verde about their new single, ‘Turn Around’, a song that aims to encourage concrete and collective action to heal and save the planet.
The full interview
Here you can watch the full interview with Nancy Uelmen (USA), Jamaica Lyra (Brazil) and Colomba Bai (South Korea) of the Gen Verde International Performing Arts Group:
To ‘turn around’ means to change direction, to change course. That is precisely what we should do, without further hesitation, about the global social and ecological crisis. Many studies and documentaries have been published and events organized to press for change, and experts and celebrities are raising their voices to demand that immediate action be taken at the global level. And, during the pandemic, Gen Verde joined in too, writing a song about the need to adopt a broader and more collective outlook in order to heal and save the planet.
We had the opportunity to meet the artists and discuss the song: the inspiration for it, its musical genre; we talked to Nancy Uelmen, the composer, about where the lyrics came from and the group’s choice to include a prayer in them… But first of all, we invite you to watch the official videoclip of ‘Turn Around’:
Turn Around, the lyrics
The lyrics of Turn Around are a structured like a journey, an invitation to reflection and meditation. Nancy Uelmen, singer and songwriter of Gen Verde, begins by telling us about the idea of the beauty of the world inspired by the words of the astronaut James Buchli when he returned from space. Listening to the astronaut’s experience and seeing the look in his eyes, Nancy understood that the planet is truly one, and that everything is connected, beautiful and alive. And yet, there is a wound, a crisis, expressed in the words of another person – the young Greta Thunberg, who gives a voice to all the young people who feel betrayed by adults, and who are the protagonists of the Fridays for Future global movement. If we want to, however, we are still in time to change course.
“We cannot do it on our own. Only if we are guided by God will we be able to change our direction, to solve our problems. Here, we need a prayer, I told myself” – explains Uelmen – “and, thinking about the ‘Laudato Si’’, the words of the ‘Veni Creator’ came to my mind: come Creator Spirit, show us the way. The ‘narrow road’, as the lyrics say, because it’s not an easy one. But if He guides us, we will heal, as Pope Francis says, we will heal our common home”.
In the song, this prayer is sung by a choir of thirty-five children and young people from nine countries (and thirteen ethnicities) across the five continents. Despite the pandemic, which prevented them from meeting physically in a recording studio, they were asked by the artists of Gen Verde to record their contributions and send them.
“Every time we received a recording, it became clearer to me how these young people are a fundamental part of this desire to change the world together. Every time we listened to a contribution, it was a very solemn moment… and when we put the different voices together, we were deeply moved, because this song already contains in itself the transforming power of a group of people who want to invert the negative trend and have already experienced this strength, even if from a distance”, explains Colomba Bai, one of Gen Verde’s keyboardists, who also works in song production.
The launch of Turn Around during The Economy of Francesco
Turn Around was launched on 21st November during the large-scale event, and already a global movement, The Economy of Francesco. Through this event, young economists and entrepreneurs, journalists, politicians, scholars, etc., together with experts and with Pope Francis himself, showed the world a new way of experiencing the economy and finance, one that is more inclusive and caring towards the poor.
“We are honoured – explains Sally McAllister, manager of Gen Verde – for the great opportunity we were given; our presence within the Economy of Francesco live worldwide broadcast speaks clearly of Gen Verde’s desire to use our hands, minds and hearts in favour of solving these pressing issues”.
Nancy Uelmen adds: “We feel that we are partners in this movement, in a way, because we can be an artistic voice that helps express and share these ideas. In fact, it is thanks to their work if we can write and perform songs with deeper roots. And we also have in common the love for young people, we care for their role as protagonists, just like in our workshops, where we don’t work ‘for’ them but ‘with’ them, as peers”.