Emergence Magazine is an online publication with annual print edition exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality. As we experience the desecration of our lands and waters, the extinguishing of species, and a loss of sacred connection to the Earth, we look to emerging stories. Our podcast features exclusive interviews, narrated essays, stories and more.
To mark the beginning of England’s nightingale season, we revisit our conversation with acclaimed folk singer, conservationist, and song collector Sam Lee, who steps into the forest each spring to sing with these beloved birds. In this interview, Sam reflects on the ancient musical kinship between humans and nightingales—melodies shared and silences exchanged—and the parallels between folk music and birdsong that embody deep connection to place.
Finding a re-enchantment with the Earth through his practice, Sam speaks of the great importance of listening, and, as Britain’s nightingale population declines, a hope that music might offer the bird a path back into cultural consciousness.
Sam Lee is a Mercury Prize–nominated and BBC Folk Award–winning singer, conservationist, and curator. Trained in fine art but with a lifelong passion for wilderness studies and nature connection, Sam is a folk music specialist dedicated to collecting, sharing, and interpreting ancient oral music from Britain and Ireland. He has combined these interests through his Singing with Nightingales annual springtime concert series. He has lectured at Goldsmiths, SOAS, and Oxford University and was the first folk singer to teach at the Royal College of Music.