Lenny Kravitz Pitches In to Protect the Gulf

It is Day 81 of the Gulf oil spill disaster.

And rock legend Lenny Kravitz is using his voice to help the people of Louisiana, a place he calls home.

"The Early Show"'s Betty Nguyen spent the day with Kravitz to see the effects of the disaster through his eyes.

Pictures: Lenny Kravitz
Pictures: Lenny Kravitz in the Gulf

Kravitz took Nguyen to meet some of the friends he's made through his philanthropic efforts, from generational fishing families in St. Bernard Parish to famed restaurants in New Orleans.

It was 1993 when Kravitz released the mega-hit, "Are You Gonna Go My Way?"

The song helped launch a career that would earn him four consecutive Grammys.

That same year, he moved to New Orleans, a city defined by its soul. The rock legend finds inspiration in its people, who've spent the past five years recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Before the oil spill, Kravitz says, New Orleans was feeling the way it did before the hurricane.

"It feels like the New Orleans I moved to, you know, 17 years ago when I came here," he told Nguyen. "Now we have this disaster with the oil. It's another great challenge."

That challenge that could devastate a place he calls home -- something Kravitz is trying to prevent.

"I care about this planet, I care about nature, I care about the ecosystem," he said. "I believe God gave us a beautiful world and it saddens me when this happens."

He's participated in benefits that have raised millions for the Gulf, and seen the effects first-hand.

Kravitz told Nguyen that, a week or two after the spill, he began going around talking to people.

"I thought that this is where I should be," he said. "I should be here trying to help in whatever small humble way that I can."

Kravitz took Nguyen for a tour of the marsh lands of St. Bernard Parish. They met people Kravitz now calls friends -- people who depend on those waters to live.

Tino Mones, a commercial crab buyer asked, "What are the fishermen going to do? BP is not going to stay here forever. Anyone who thinks that, they're a fool. BP's going to stay here until they go broke, then they're gone. And then what is this community going to do?"

The oil gushing from the gulf is threatening Louisiana's $2.4 billion seafood industry.

Kravitz introduced his friend, George Barisich, a third-generation fisherman.

Barisich said if oil comes in to Louisiana, the industry will be "shook up."

He said, "For me, it's terrible, because I really don't want to go BP'ing. I don't want to work for the oil company. This boat is not designed to catch tar balls."

Fear the oil spill will destroy the local seafood industry has already started to spread, from canals along the marsh to restaurants in the famed French quarter.


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Kravitz took Nguyen to one of his favorite restaurants, Irene's.

Irene DiPietro said she cooks lots of seafood in her kitchen, but some ingredients are hard to get these days.

"(I cook) lots of mussels and clams and lots of oysters -- we have not been able to get lately," she said. "That's the downfall of the problem we are going through right now."

Kravitz said the difficulties inspire him to be the best person he can be and to use the gifts he has to help.

He said, "Unfortunately, whatever it is that I can do is very small in the scheme of billions of gallons of oil coming out of the ocean. But I can do what I can do in the community."

It's taken several years since Katrina for the New Orleans culture to come back.

For nearly two decades, Kravitz has forged a bond with the community, which is why the latest threat has become personal.

"At the end of the day, this is a very special place," he said. "It needs to be preserved for the ecology and for ourselves, the people, that's our duty. We have to keep this place beautiful and right now we have a big problem and we have to clean it up, so that's what we need to focus on."

Nguyen said on "The Early Show" Friday that it was clear after spending the day with Kravitz that he's determined to help in any way that he can, but ultimately there is only so much that can be done until the leak is finally fixed and oil stops flowing from the bottom of the Gulf.

She added that, when the oil spill happened, Kravitz was in the Bahamas working on his album. But he went back to New Orleans to participate in the Gulf Aid concert and decided he wanted to stay in the area to help where he could.

Nguyen says Louisiana is doing a lot to protect its marshes. She explained the state is pumping in freshwater from the Mississippi River.

"The problem with that is that, when the fresh water mixes with saltwater, it will kill oysters, a large part of the industry down there," she said. "It's a Catch 22. If they don't pump the fresh water in, that doesn't push the oil away from the marshland. So, the freshwater kills the oysters, but if you don't pump it in, the oil will kill the oysters."