The longtime Rolling Stones keyboardist (and former player with The Allman Brothers Band) is the co-founder of the Mother Nature Network and a tree farmer/conservationist with a 2,900-acre property outside of Macon dubbed Charlane Plantation.
Before the event started, Leavell chatted about why this particular award is so special to him.
“It comes from an amazing man and an amazing family that I admire and respect so much. Ted Turner is my hero. What he has done with his land – being one of the largest landowners – the way that he manages it, bringing back the bison, putting most of it in conservation easements which is a bold thing to do…and then of course starting this incredible cartoon (‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’) to teach children how to better treat the environment. Captain Planet itself is an amazing project. This is very flattering, and a wonderful honor,” Leavell said.
E Roland, of Collective Soul, and Atlanta Hawks part owner Rutherford Seydel dance at Captain Planet Foundation's Annual Benefit Gala at Flourish Atlanta on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Atlanta. (Photo by John Amis/Invision for Captain Planet Foundation/AP Images)
Before receiving his notice during the gala, Leavell slid behind an upright piano to belt “Georgia on My Mind,” infusing it with grit and soul.
He later led Collective Soul’s Jesse Triplett, Johnny Rabb and Will Turpin, along with Stroud, through a fun “Tumblin’ Dice” and an impressive rendition of The Allman Brothers’ tricky “Jessica.”
Leavell then handed keyboard duties to Collective Soul singer Ed Roland, who offered a heartfelt introduction of Lennon.
“This man stands on his own merit,” Roland said, as the low-key Lennon, who is also the founder of the environmental and humanitarian-focused White Feather Foundation, walked onstage and thanked Collective Soul “for making me feel a little less nervous.”
Julian Lennon finishes performing at Captain Planet Foundation's Annual Benefit Gala at Flourish Atlanta on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Atlanta. (Photo by John Amis/Invision for Captain Planet Foundation/AP Images)
His lovely, emotion-soaked “Saltwater” was followed by a full-throated singalong of “Stand By Me,” with Leavell back on the keys, Roland grooving with a tambourine and the room of attendees swaying and clapping along.
For more information about the Captain Planet Foundation, visit https://captainplanetfoundation.org/.
Julian Lennon, backed by Collective Soul, performs at Captain Planet Foundation Gala in Atlanta on Nov. 16, 2019.
Follow the AJC Music Scene on Facebook and Twitter.