The Daily Evergreen

Tracy Lyons Kicks Off Tour – Mercury Rising Tour begins tonight as part of WSU’s Sustainability Smackdown.
By: Tamara Vallejos – The Daily Evergreen

Imagine discovering that your body was being poisoned by mercury and other life-threatening toxins, simply by performing the basic and essential task of breathing.

For musician Tracy Lyons, that discovery was an eye-opening reality. The singer, who split her time growing up between Northern Ireland and Canada, has since become an environmental activist, working to raise awareness of pollution’s health consequences.

“I lived around petrol plants that were probably one of the worst with the CO2 emissions but … everyone is breathing those toxins even if you think you’re living in a cleaner place,” Lyons said. “There are places that are cleaner than others, but nowhere is perfect anymore.” Having levels of mercury that she referred to as “off the charts,” Lyons sought treatment in Los Angeles, where she lives. The experience taught her lessons regarding the state of the environment and she is embarking on a college tour to educate others through her music.

WSU is the debut show for the 2007-08 Mercury Rising Tour, which kicks off tonight at the Student Recreation Center. As a part of WSU’s two-day Sustainability Smackdown, Lyons and her band will be performing an environmentally friendly set, powered by bio-diesel and the purchase of carbon credits.

Lyons has been playing environmentally themed shows since 2004, but she’s been a musician and writer long before then. Although her current music showcases her guitar-playing skills, Lyons began with piano when she was young.

“I independently started playing the piano and I wrote poetry,” she said. “And as time went on I started putting my poetry, which I never felt was complete, to music. Then it all sort of made sense.” A highlight of Lyons’ show will be the song “Save Me,” which All Music Guide called an “aching environmentalist plea.” The song appears on her 2006 album entitled “I Will,” and the video for the track has been viewed more than 260,000 times since being uploaded to YouTube last spring.

The song urges action toward cleaning up the planet, and Lyons encourages people to focus not only on the world around them but also to pay attention to their own bodies.

“There are many things you can do, environmentally,” she said. “But my focus is really about the health issues. So what I would encourage is even just taking a blood test because [toxins] affect your immune system, and what ultimately happens to you is you could end up with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or cancer.” Although it can be expensive, Lyons hopes people will take advantage of easy access to blood testing. Interested WSU students can get tested on campus at Health and Wellness and find out their toxin levels in as little as a week.

“I think the stage that [college students] are at, you’d be able to be proactive before anything health-wise was damaging,” Lyons said.

Aside from being able to protect their own health, Lyons said college students are the ideal group to target with her environmentally conscious message because of their opportunity to make lifestyle changes early on.

“I just want to be able to share with people who would be able to make that difference,” she said.