CALLING THE SACRED: THE JOURNEY
I figured out a long time ago that when I create, my job is simply to "show up". It is not my job so much to define what an album is going to be. If I do that, I just get in the way. Many years ago, when I was in Nashville, writing country/pop songs, the creative process was quite different. Then it was more an externalized writing process. But at around 1989-1990, after facing some life or death challenges, I opened myself to Spirit in a way I never had before and Spirit responded profoundly!
When I dedicated my life and my path to music for healing and nourishing the soul, the music changed, my voice changed, and the creative process itself changed and expanded. That's when I came to understand my part in the greater creative process that happens through me.
For instance, many years ago, in the beginnings of "Calling The Sacred", I thought it would be called "Hands of Dancing Light". Well, that song is now on a completely different album (Reikidama). Then I thought it would be called "Children of the Seventh Generation". But as it all unfolded, the music began to show me what it's form was meant to be.
One day I finally came to realize that "Calling The Sacred" was really the intention and energy of the whole album. Only then did the inspiration come to make it a "theme" throughout the album. This theme is what would finally bring it all together. It was only at that moment that I saw what it's form was meant to be. I must say that for me, those moments are very humbling.
My job is to sculpt frequencies and vibrations, given by Spirit, into a form that expresses that Spirit.
I have always thought that the Lakota language is a beautiful expression. As I began to learn more words and phrases to communicate, I was guided to use the language in my musical expression in a way that, to my knowledge has never been done: not only as a language but as tone and frequency. "Calling the Sacred", the opening song on this album is an example. It had come in a dream as my song, but in the dream my Lakota friend was singing it to me. Somehow I knew what the Lakota words meant in their essence. But I couldn't remember the exact words in my waking state. So I had to go to my Lakota friend and get him to give me the Lakota words as I told him the essence of their meaning. That is how it came to be.
The song is "Wanikiya" another example. It is sort of a Lakota "Ave Maria".
The translation goes:
Wanikiya (means Life Giver-the Lakota word used for Jesus) Thank you.
I have calmness. Great Spirit, Grandfather! Yes, I have calmness.
Wanikiya, Thank you. I have calmness. Wanikiya, Oh Wanikiya, Thank you.
This song expresses gratitude to Jesus for peace and calmness. Not a Jesus of guilt, shame and suffering, but to the true life and light giver that he is.
"Wakinyan Thank You Song" is a thank you song to the Thunder Beings. "Wakinyan" means thunder. When this song came to me there was a message with it that those who listen with a pure heart and pure intention would be blessed. I pray it brings you many blessings.
I was given a message a few years ago by Spirit saying that I would be creating dance music. I really had no idea what kind of dance music I would be creating and I was quite puzzled by that piece of information. So I just let it go, as it's not something I could force, nor would I want to. Still, it was puzzling. Then "Joy Dancing" happened. Oh, I love that song! When I perform it, it seems a lot of folks love that song😊
Sometimes we can get too serious in spiritual matters and we can just get too serious about life, especially in these crazy/wonderful times we are in. So "Joy Dancing" is about remembering to celebrate life: to dance, to sing, to pray and to play and have fun! Oh, how we so need to remember to do that. Below is a video of Joy Dancing!
The creative process, for me, manifests in a variety of ways that certainly keeps it all interesting. Sometimes songs come in dreams. Sometimes melodies come on the wind. And sometimes I just find myself singing the song as though it had always been there. It's more like receiving the songs, or catching them than anything else. Like I said earlier, my job is simply to "show up".
"Children of the Seventh Generation" began many years ago when I "caught" the melody on the wind, literally hearing it in the wind. The lyrics came a little later. They too flowed with their own message. Sometimes when I create, the messages come through so clearly that I know it is not my job to censor, but to be the instrument and to seek to understand further the gift I am being given in that moment. In the case of this song, its deeper meaning is still unfolding and it seems there are many layers to that.
(Note: When I speak of messages coming through, I am not referring to channeling. I am referring to being tuned in to Divine Spirit in such a way that what comes forth is so pure that it is not for me to alter.)
At the end of the recording of "Children of the Seventh Generation" you will hear a baby cooing. That baby is my nephew, now a father of two himself! The generations go on and on.
"Calling the Sacred Spoken Prayer". My heart is full of this prayer for you. I always "live" through various levels of the story behind each album. Little did I know when creating "Calling the Sacred" and offering this prayer that in about a year from that time I would be facing serious illness where this was absolutely my prayer to the depths.
Here is the English translation of that prayer:
Grandfather, I want to live.
I want to live, Grandfather.
Help me. Have compassion for me.
Joyfully I want to live.
With a sacred people, I come dancing my prayer.
With joy, I want to live.
With joy, I want to live.
Joyfully I and my relations will live.
Grandfather / Grandfather
I want to live / I want to live
I am happy to say that prayer was profoundly answered and I am here to share this with you. Answered prayers come in complete surrender.
In the recording of the Calling the Sacred album, I found myself exploring and experimenting with different rhythms and percussion. Actually in the case of "Unci Maka", the rhythm came first and then I began singing and dancing around the room. Thus "Unci Maka" was born. I was having a blast😊 I love the primal "feel" of this song. Hope you do too.
In the Lakota language, "Unci" means "Grandmother", "Maka" means "Earth" and "Wakan" means "Spirit".
"Divine Holy Breath" is one of my favorite songs. I really enjoy performing it live because I can involve the entire audience in the "ohm" and chant sections. What a beautiful energy experience we create together!
Recording it was equally a beautiful experience although technically a challenge because of all the different vocal parts that were being recorded. In mixing all of these parts together my head was spinning. The energy and sounds were keeping me in an otherworldly state at a time I need to be in that technical frame of mind!
"Sacred Being of Light". Oh what a fun little song! It's a call and answer song. When I do this one live, we all have a really fun time. It's one of my favorite songs to do to get everybody involved and in a joyful space!
"Angels Gather Near Me Now" was actually written a few years earlier but didn't make it to an album until "Calling the Sacred" which is where it belonged.
After 911, everybody was so unsettled and fearful. It came to me that songs of affirmation were needed in these times to help turn the psyche back to calm. This was one of those occasions of just finding myself singing a song as though it had always been there. I was taking a hot bath and simply singing my prayers for the people and for myself to feel safe again. It was spontaneous and from the heart. I still love this song.
Another song that originated during that same time period was "I Have Found My Rightful Place". Again the guidance was about creating affirmation songs to help turn the psyche back toward feeling safe.
There was a movie some years ago called "Grey Owl". It was about a trapper who turned conservationist and became an advocate for the beaver. A quote attributed to him in this movie was "Every creature has its rightful place and in its rightful place it becomes beautiful." This was the inspiration for "I Have Found My Rightful Place". Still makes me feel safe!
"Let the Rains Come Down". In Taos we don't don't get a lot of days of steady rain. But this was one such day. On my porch there was a large can (#10 size-think large can of tomatoes, 6lbs). It had been used in a Lakota ceremony and was sitting on my porch upside down. It just happened to be where the water from the rain was dripping off the roof. I noticed that the drip, drip, drip was a steady rhythm so I ran and got something to record it. This turned into the rhythm you hear on the recording of this song along with the gentle soothing rain occurring at the same time. That was my entire music track besides the vocal I love doing unusual things like that in the studio!
One time many years ago when I was in South Dakota at a sun dance, I overheard two Lakota girls laughing about how strange some of the sacred songs would sound if you tried to sing those words in English. In their minds it couldn't be done. But in my mind, I accepted the challenge! I later created new songs entirely by using English translations of Lakota words from such songs. Thus "I Send My Prayer" and "Look Upon It" were born. Still sacred songs in my opinion, but birthed into a new form.
Here is one last little tidbit. In production you go through countless versions of songs, edits and changes etc. just to get to the final master. One day, just as I was sure this was the final version and it was complete, I happened to look down at the total album length. It was 1:11:11. That was my sign. I knew it really was completed. "1" is the first hexagram of the I Ching and represents the Creative! There are also many other positive connotations regarding 1:11 and 11:11 as I am sure many of you are aware.
I hope you have enjoyed this little window into the creative process behind "Calling The Sacred". As always, the music is the expression of my spiritual journey and I feel blessed to have a way to share the experience of that journey through sound.
May it bless you too!