Meet West Virginia's 'Solar Musician'

Jun 24, 2015

When you think of something being solar powered, what do you picture? Solar panels on roofs, bridges, in fields, maybe you think of solar cars. But what about a solar musician?

Graham Smith-White, solar musician.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

32 year-old, Graham Smith-White  is looking for the perfect spot to produce and record his next piece. This time, it's Craftworks at Cool Spring just outside of Charles Town.

He’s carrying three things: his guitar case, a backpack with two Indian drums inside called Tablas, and another smaller bag with cables, microphones, a large battery, and solar panels.

“A few years ago I realized just how much electricity it takes to produce an album," Graham explained, "and wanted to see if I could do something to reduce that and change the amount of energy it takes, so that we’re not wasting our resources just for the sake of entertainment basically, and so I set out figuring out how to do that."

Graham only records in nature, and he does so by using equipment he powers with solar energy. He calls his ongoing music project, the Sunrise Review.

The setup works like this - he has a microphone he plugs into his smartphone or laptop, then this plugs into a battery that’s being charged by solar panels he’s laid out in a sunny spot in the grass.

Graham says the idea is to make music - but also to be an example of how to do right by the planet.

“And I’m able to do that by being sustainable and taking concern for how I impact the world I’m in," he said, "because it’s my office, you know? You wouldn’t do things in your office that result in like not being able to breathe or having to worry about whether or not the water is clean enough to drink.”

When Graham is finished recording in his outdoor office, he packs up and heads for home, where he’ll mix his recordings into a new tune.