Nominated in 2017 for a "One World Music Award"
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The Songs/Chants - Track by Track
In Plum Village, where my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh lives, the community regularly chants Namo Avalokitesvara (Homage to the Bodhisattva of Compassion). In respect and love for the community, I came up with a chord pattern that I felt worked nicely with the chant. Avalokitesvara is also named Kwan Yin, Kwan Am and Chenrezig (Tibet). The figure of the goddess is often shown with many arms extended to embrace all. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to sing this chant, in gratitude.
Bodhisattva of Compassion
Heart of Prajnaparamita
This song presents the core mantra of what is considered one of the main teachings of the Buddha - the Heart Sutra. I have inter-weaved a spoken word representation of the essence of the teaching from the Sutra. “Gone, gone, gone beyond… gone all the way over… enlightenment! Hallelujah!”
After having performed song and chant from a number of spiritual traditions for several years, I finally came to the realization that I did not have a Christian-based chant in my repertoire. I did a lot of research and found Kyrie Eleison, which is one of the oldest Christian prayers. It was very late the night I discovered a version of the prayer and proceeded to put it to music. The recording includes the beautiful flute playing by Claire Lawrence and T. W. Tobin added the choir samples near the end of the song.
This is a song that I wrote for my satguru Amritanandamayi Ma (Amma) and was fortunate enough to be allowed the opportunity to perform it for her live during her Darshan in Everett, Washington in 2016.
I am always interested in obscure stringed instruments and one day I found an old balalaika for sale at a local thrift shop. I spent the requested $35 and then proceeded to find out how to tune the 3-stringed instrument. As the first two strings are tuned identically, it is very easy to set up a nice drone, while playing the melody mainly on the third string. I had recently discovered the Sufi prayer, lā ilāha illā allāh, and really wanted to put together some music to go along with it. The balalaika turned out to be perfect for what I wanted to convey musically. This piece has become a favorite at our live concerts, with everyone joining in, in jubilant fashion!
Wear Your Love Like Heaven
I have always loved this song, originally written and performed by Donovan Leitch. In the recording of this song, I was lucky enough to have my dear friend Madelaine Bachan Kaur join me in singing this uplifting song which is always a favourite at our live events.
Govinda Jaya Jaya
Govinda is the youthful Krishna... this is one of the earliest chants that I composed and I actually used the music that I had originally put together for a very Indian-influenced version of Rain by The Beatles! However, the riff worked really nicely to set up a platform that worked well with this chant. Always fun and inspiring to play... especially when it starts to "take off" near the end!
This chant was originated by the 13th century Buddhist monk Nichiren and, in modern times, has been adopted by the Soka Gakkai International organization as the focus of their meditations. As per SGI's website, "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a vow, an expression of determination, to embrace and manifest our Buddha nature. It is a pledge to oneself to never yield to difficulties and to win over one’s suffering. At the same time, it is a vow to help others reveal this law in their own lives and achieve happiness."
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Originally written and performed by Jonathan Maracle & Broken Walls, this is a beautiful chant from the Mohawk native tradition of Ontario. Mark originally introduced me to this chant and we have been doing it for some time with Mark leading the chant with his singing and native drum. I echo the vocals and also play a lead guitar solo, using the e-bow. The chant reaches a powerful finale with the inclusion of all the voices from the vocal group.
Beautiful Great One
During the discovery of the earlier track on the album, Kyrie Eleison, I discovered this beautiful piece and proceeded to work on the musical arrangement into the early hours of the morning once I had completed the arrangement for Kyrie. I asked my partner, Ana, if she would come up with a spoken intro for the song in Spanish. The result is very beautiful...
Veni Lumen Cordium
This song is based on the Ho'oponopono tradition of Hawaii. The main lyric is in the Hawaiian language and I did my best at finding out the pronunciation and had to make a few changes over time. The basic theme of the song is that we are all part of the "I" and that therein we will find peace. Claire Lawrence plays beautiful flute on this track and Madelaine contributed backup vocals. Sweet!
The Peace of I
This Sanskrit chant basically means "May all beings be happy." My satguru Amma asks us to recite this mantra on a regular basis and to imagine white flowers of peace falling on the land and into the minds and hearts of all beings. This version I have borrowed from a video I saw of Deva Premal & Miten. Miten did a lovely guitar pattern for the song, which I immediately set about learning and have been doing this piece ever since. I had the privilege of performing the song, along with the Victoria group, for Amma during the 2015 Satsang in Bellevue, Washington.
Lokaha Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
What more can really be said? This lovely song, written by John Lennon is a beautiful testament to the core teaching of all spiritual traditions and the human spirit. Once again, I have my friend Bachan join me for the vocalizations and Claire lays down some lovely tenor sax.
All You Need... is LOVE!
While getting set up to record the above track, I was playing around with my Liverpool accent, which I am wont to do on a fairly regular basis. Bachan joined in the fun and we started into this funny outtake of the song that was done completely off the cuff, as it were. So much fun!