Groove is in the heart. And sometimes it’s just full of heart, especially when The Green Planet Band takes the stage to spread joy with an eco-friendly backbeat. The Green Planet Band delights crowds by “Recycling Rock 'n' Roll One Song at a Time.” The band, which plays classic rock, consists of Kylee Rapp (15, guitar and lead singer), Tyler Rapp (13, drums and vocals), Anna Rapp (13, bass and vocals) and Mama Lisa (lead guitar).
Tyler longs to sing like Sam Cooke, while his twin, Anna, digs the bassline of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” Kylee draws inspiration from sources as diverse as Queen, Nirvana and Linda Ronstadt.
The Green Planet Band started its groove singing along to the hits of Mama Lisa’s youth from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. They first performed at an elementary school talent show, then quickly scaled up to cafes, Earth Day fairs, the Somerset County Environmental Education Center, the Bridgewater Eco-Blast Fair and the Electric Ride Car Show.
“This was a big deal as we’re very into saving the planet, and electric cars can play a big role in that since they don’t have exhaust fumes,” Kylee says.
“We’re also really big fans of Elon Musk and Tesla,” Anna chimes in. “Hopefully, we can get one soon!”
All three student-musicians are suffering from screen-overload from virtual schooling during the pandemic. But as consummate pros, they’ll still jump back in front of the camera for distanced gigs. “When we do Facebook Live concerts, the phone is far away from us, so we can get the whole band in the picture,” Kylee says. “We don’t have any audience feedback. It’s very different.”
“Yeah, you have to stare at the camera the whole time,” Tyler adds. “I’m used to looking around and at all the people!”
For ecological inspiration, the group looks to heroes like Greta Thunberg, TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year. “She shows that not only adults can make changes in the world,” Kylee says. “More people like her should speak out and get children interested, adults interested, everyone interested in trying to save the planet. We’re the next generation. People will be looking up to us soon.”
“It will be your world!” Mama Lisa interjects.
“That’s right,” Tyler replies. “We need to keep it nice and running for everyone!”
The musicians are also fans of trailblazing scientist and activist Dr. Jane Goodall, who believes today’s kids are the most compassionate, creative change-makers our world has ever seen. She once said: “I do have reasons for hope… Above all, the commitment of young people when they’re empowered to take action.” To help that along, the Jane Goodall Institute created a program called Roots & Shoots. It encourages young people to build a better world by standing up for their beliefs and affecting positive change in their communities.
Goodall visited the kids’ former intermediate school, Hillside, twice: first to attend the annual Forest Fest in 2001 and then to establish it as America’s first Roots & Shoots elementary school in 2004.
One of the school’s teachers — science expert Katrina Berdo Macht — was even able to inspire her students from Panama. For four years, she teleconferenced during a weeklong visit to Barro Colorado Island in Gatun Lake, a reserve prized by biologists. From there, she shared stories of monkeys and working as a mammalogist at a field station operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Inspired by such environmental education, Tyler believes music is an especially good medium for eco-friendly messaging. “It’s joyful and can get people pumped up. Sometimes when you’re talking, you might not get across the right emotion or feeling. But when you’re singing, it really comes across.”
The young Rapps hope to spin music and making a difference into lifelong habits. “We want to pursue this for the rest of our lives,” Anna says, “as long as our fingers can move!”
To find their upcoming gigs, visit thegreenplanetband.com