Words and music that open the heart and inspire. To suggest an addition, email Rambhakta.
Shenandoah (Divine Ma)
At the end of a weekend program that Jyotish and Devi gave in Palo Alto in early November 2021, a small men’s ensemble offered them a surprise performance of this American classic song with spiritualized lyrics that Jyotish had written. As Devi later wrote, it was a very special moment.
From Swami Kriyananda:
“In future, people might be tempted to make my songs more and more ‘artistic,’ thinking that it would make them more beautiful. That wouldn’t be the right way to take them. What is needed is for each one to make the music their sadhana [that is, make it an aspect of our spiritual practice]. Sincerity will make the music beautiful.” — Swami Kriyananda
“We can use the voice to heal ourselves and others—to heal the heart of its blindness, of its selfishness and self-enclosure. It’s very important to be an instrument for this type of healing. Using the voice to heal people is perhaps the most important of all ways to use the voice. The instrument is blessed by what flows through it, and if we can use the voice to become instruments for the light, for the power of God, then we too are transformed.” — Swami Kriyananda
Swami Kriyananda talks to Ananda singers:
How to Use the Voice to Uplift and Inspire (15.5 MB MP3)
Swami Kriyananda: Two Very Different Kinds of Music. From a talk by Nayaswami Asha.
Here’s a wonderful short video by David Eby, cellist with the Portland Opera and director of the Ananda Music Ministry worldwide. David currently lives and teaches in Portland, where he also gives workshops on Meditation for Musicians. His website is www.davidebymusic.com
A Rousing Performance by Barbara, Janice, and Saranya:
Smokey Robinson talks about the inspiration behind the Tempations’ hit song “My Girl,” which he wrote for them, and the atmosphere of joyful collaboration at Motown. How many artists’ childhoods are thick with encouraging influences? (Lots!) Finally, the spiritual moment that rescued him from drugs. And Prelude to recovery. (Smokey YouTube interview list here.)
Is your liver underperforming? Saddened by the biliousness of it all? Take 5 minutes of Niko Ne Zna and call me in the morning:
In the late 1980s I became interested in taking portraits of the people of Ananda Village. The project didn’t go far — it became abundantly clear that my main dharma was not photography, and that I shouldn’t let it become a distraction from writing and editing. But it was interesting in this respect. To learn how to take portraits I read a book by Nancy Brown, a former New York high-fashion model who had become a successful beauty photographer with a client list that included Revlon and other top companies. I felt a bit nervous about learning from a photographer who worked in that world. But then Swamiji remarked at a Sunday service that we can take the methods that are used in that world and use them to help the work. With that thought in mind, it occurs that those of us who sing Ananda’s music can learn useful lessons about musicality and art from great singers in various genres — opera, folk music, world music, etc. And so, here’s an 18-minute NPR mini-concert by the Zimbabwean singer Oliver Mtukudzi:
John Rutter on the importance of choir:
The combined small ensembles perform Shenandoah once or twice a year at Ananda Sangha in Palo Alto. This lovely performance is by the New College of Oxford.
Swami Kriyananda urged us to sing with understanding. I was struck by the intelligence and interpretive feeling that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau brings to this cheerful song by the Austrian composer Franz Schubert, “Fischerweise” (“The Song of the Fisherman”). If you’ve seen the movie “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” it’s the song that’s playing on the gramophone when Holmes visits Professor Moriarty in his study at the university. The pianist is Sviatoslav Richter.
But first, Fischer-Dieskau gives us his final words on the art of singing. At the end, he talks about the importance of attuning ourselves to the feeling that the composer put into the song: “One has to really listen — what is the music saying? Nothing can be done with cool calculation! One must really reach the same level of warmth that the composer experienced when he wrote the music, and in that way alone does one become a true interpreter. One has to fill his heart, so to speak, with a strong feeling for what he’s singing, while he’s singing — and then he finds himself, without the slightest effort, in another sphere.”
I’m a fan of the Maccabeats, an a capella men’s singing group from Yeshiva University in NYC. I saw this on YouTube and commented: “This moved me to tears. When I see Jews walking to temple on Saturday, or when I see Theravada monks walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, I bow inwardly and thank them for reminding us all that the material world is a pale reflection of a higher reality. Thank you. – From a 75-year-old meditator (three times a day faithfully for 50 years).” — Rambhakta
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock caught me in the first lines of this trailer for his online master classes:
Cat Stevens talks about the 1970s cult movie Harold and Maude: