Singer/Songwriter Grant Livingston has been a Florida favorite since the mid-80s. The Miami New Times named Grant one of the “Ten Greatest South Florida Folksingers of All Time” and called him a cross between Jimmy Buffett and Sesame Street. He loves to tell stories from the point of view of animals including dogs, cats, armadillos, and pythons. He often performs for schools, museums, and other children’s programs. His guitar style is a mix of ragtime, country blues, and early swing.
Grant has taught songwriting at Miami-Dade College and, along with fellow songwriter Janet Goodman, coordinates the Nashville Songwriters’ Association’s South Florida chapter. Grant has partnered with Biscayne National Park Ranger Gary Bremen to bring the program Songs and Stories of Our National Parks to venues in South Florida and recently to Yosemite National Park. Grant’s past solo performances include the Florida Folk Festival,Will McLean Festival, University of Miami’s Festival Miami, and concerts at National and State Parks including Biscayne, Big Cypress, Everglades, Barnacle, Stephen Foster, Pennekamp, Highlands Hammock, Sebastian Inlet, Myakka River, MacArthur Beach and Hillsborough River. Grant Livingston’s music was a subject of PBS’s New Florida television series. Numerous radio appearances include Miami’s WLRN, Tampa’s WMNF, and Gainesville’s WRUF. Livingston has taught songwriting at Miami-Dade College and helps to coordinate the South Florida chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
During his residency Grant will be learning from the staff, collaborating with other artists, and writing new songs about the Everglades, its creatures, its people and its history.
Upbeat, with an offbeat sense of humor, Grant Livingston weaves history and the environment into his songs. He has written about South Florida pioneers Henry Flagler and Julia Tuttle, the invasion of the Everglades by Melaleuca trees and pythons, Halley’s Comet, armadillos, barnacles, greyhounds and grey cats in graveyards. Grant’s musical style owes a lot to the music of the early 1900s – ragtime, country-blues and swing, Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. He’s got a bit of 1960s troubadour in him, too.
Grant’s music is equally accessible to adults and kids. He often performs for schools, museums, and other children’s programs.
Grant has four CDs of original songs to his credit. Recordings One Everglades, Florida Rain and The One That Got Away celebrate his native Florida. Let Me Off The Leash, produced in conjunction with Nashville producer Cliff Goldmacher, capitalizes on his swing influences.
Working with park staff to learn about the history and environment of the Everglades, Grant collaborated with fellow musicians to create new songs related to the Everglades.
Grant’s new song “The Difference,” based on park rangers’ tips on distinguishing alligators from crocodiles, was on the Everglades National Park’s Instagram page and was featured nation-wide to NPS staff in the “Green and Gray Report”.
Another new song, “Boys of the CCC,” inspired by a visit to the Deer Feeding Station at Royal Palm, was featured at the annual CCC Festival at Highlands Hammock State Park in November 2019. Several more songs were finished or started during Grant’s residence. Grant plans a recording of these songs to be completed in 2020.
Grant gave numerous mini pop-up concerts during his month of residence, for park visitors at Royal Palm, Flamingo Marina and Coe Visitor Center, at Robert is Here fruit stand, for park staff and volunteers at Pine Island, and on a sunset boat cruise from Flamingo. Additionally, he represented AIRIE at festivals at Redland Fruit and Spice Park and at Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery.
Grant hopes to continue his partnership with Everglades National Park’s interpretive, educational, and scientific staff in the future to raise public awareness of the Everglades and Florida’s natural and cultural history.
“I grew up in Miami. Everglades National Park was my back yard. Living here, though, as the AIRIE resident, gave me a deeper and more nuanced view. I saw the season start to turn from wet to dry in October, the animals and the visitors increasing. I walked at night, heard gators bellow and owls ask my name. I slogged to the cypress domes. I went on four kinds of boat to four kinds of water.
There is something empowering about being in residence. Knowing that my job is to learn and to write, and that I have no other job, renews my sense of purpose. Even as I leave I know I will take this with me and keep it with me.
My most important timepiece here was not my Apple Watch. It was the moon. A small crescent the day I arrived, I saw it wax full and wane to nothing. The reappearance of the crescent told me it was time to leave.
My favorite highlight was a simple one. Four times, on four different days, I saw the same Little Green Heron fishing patiently in the same place. I thanked him for allowing me to visit his home.”