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Well this is a strange and cool surprise! Several years ago I heard from Scott Roewe, Music Director at Unitarian Universalists of Santa Clarita, California. He had come across “Jai Ma” and wanted to perform it for one of their services. I was on my way for a bit of an L.A. adventure this March (more on that soon), and I thought of getting in touch with Scott. I wound up with a Sunday morning gig (after a late night of Saturday night dancing) and some good connections and collaboration. Before the trip, Scott invited me to enter a UU song contest. I procrastinated on it, but eventually sent “Shivo Ham” and “Blessed Be, Namaste.” Good thing I got around to it. I was psyched to find out yesterday that “Blessed Be, Namaste” is one of their winners. I never thought I’d write a song that might one day have the potential to be performed as a UU hymn. I’m glad some people have found a positive resonance with this tune.

 

“Blessed Be, Namaste” appears on This. (2012).

May 6, 2016

Hello to all that submitted music for the 2016 Silliman hymn competition!

Thank you for you contribution.

The winners are….

Blessed Be, Namaste
Music & Lyrics Robin Renee
From Atco, New Jersey

For the Beauty of the Earth
Music by Lia Davis
Lyrics by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint
From Denver, Colorado

Juntos Cantamos
Music by Elizabeth Scribner/Christine Lucas
Lyrics by Annie Pal
From Glenn Allen, Virginia

Let Peace Expand
Music & Lyrics by Lisa Murray
From Temple New Hampshire

The Light Of the Spirit
Music by David Kent
Lyrics by Rev Sarah Tinker
Maidwell, United Kingdom

Seed of Hope
Music & Lyrics by John Kramer
From Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

The Stream of Life (Come Take My Hand)
Music by  Elizabeth Scribner
Lyrics adapted from Rabindranath Tagore
From Davidson, North Carolina

Together
Amber Fetner
Music by Chris Hayden
Lyrics by Myrna Adams West
From Athens, Georgia

One Small World
Music & Lyrics Lucy Holstedt
From Somerville, Massachusetts

Open Your Heart To The Joy
Music & Lyrics Cheryl Ritch
From Fredonia, New York

People of Hope
Music & Lyrics Darryl Loiacano
From Kalamazoo, Michigan

A special thank you to the Judges for their contribution.

Rev. Mary Katherine Morn  |  Director of Stewardship and Development and Special Advisor to the UUA President
Bailey Whiteman – Choral Director for the Washington Ethical Society, Washington D.C.
Bertram Gulhaugen – Music Director Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation Seattle, Washington
Each winner will receive $100, and have their music read down and recorded at the upcoming UUMN conference in Madison, Wisconsin July 20th – 24th.


Thank you,

Scott Roewe
UUMN Director of Publications
Music Director
UUOFSCV
Santa Clarita, California

 

 

 

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Mantra-Pop Still Life by Robin Renee 2006 (harmonium, candles, meditation cushion, and boots)

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I’ve been telling myself this for a while now, and I’ve started to say it out loud. In terms that sound like what a visual artist might use, I have to say this is my post-kirtan period. In the past, I’ve called my music Bohemian-Glam, and more recently, Mantra-Pop. I guess in a way all those terms remain part of what I do since all that I’ve done will inform what comes next. There’s something that also appeals to me about the manufactured nature of any terms to describe music; they can point to a combination of sound and concept, at best, but you really get to make it up. Maybe I’ll declare “Post-Kirtan” a sound all its own.

This acknowledgment is showing up at a time that in my personal life I am actually coming back to yoga and chant music after a time of separation from most everything to do with it. Staying away was necessary for some shifting relationship self-preservation for a while, but I am glad to reclaim those practices that work for me now, in earnest. I am humbled to hear from so many people about how the work I’ve done with kirtan has had a positive effect. I won’t forget that. I am listening to mantra as I write this.

What I’ve known for a while, though, is that what feels like the peak time in my life to focus on chant, at least in terms of performance and recording, has passed. I have slowly been getting comfortable with this, and talked about it somewhat on the Positive Energy TV show in the summer. That doesn’t mean I won’t facilitate kirtan and other contemplative practices in public spaces at times. In fact, I just booked a concert and kirtan event for April 16th in Plainsboro. It doesn’t mean I won’t record kirtan if it arises again, or sing with the Kosmic Kirtan Posse, if asked. What it does mean is that I’m acknowledging how much I’ve missed being the full-on singer/songwriter, how necessary that path is for me, and it’s the path I set myself back on now. This is the path where the healing and power seem to occur most naturally for me.

It has been mildly traumatic finding the confidence to write again in the way I know I can, and focusing back on club gigs and beyond feels daunting. How did I lose that trail for so long? At least I have some sense of what’s worked before, what definitely didn’t, and some ideas about where I’d like to go. It’s time to ring in the new!

This Friday, I’m doing a two-set café show with Jessica Floresta on vocals and viola. It is a small gig in a very familiar place. I will be very happy to perform there, and I hope you’ll join us if you can. Each bit I do to prepare for it feels like a little triumph; a lessening of the distance between myself and where I need to be.

Come see us Friday, December 4th at grooveground, 647 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, NJ, 8pm.

A closeup of the wish tree at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. Here, I promised myself to realize my creative potential. I meant it.

A closeup of the wish tree at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. Here, I promised myself to realize my creative potential. I meant it.

The other evening I was at the South Jersey Writers meetup and I announced to my friend Glenn Walker that I like music again. The look on his face let me know it was a puzzling statement. It is not a surprising concept to me, but I was surprised to hear those words coming out of my mouth and to another person.

It was a somewhat equivocal statement. I always like music. I often require lots of silence around me, but I leave space in my world for singing when the spirit moves and listening to favorites (Today it’s Wall of Voodoo.). That said, I have felt a separation from making music for a while. I’ve written an awful lot about not writing, so I won’t bore you or myself with that. What used to feel like an uncomfortable alienation from creative source feels like synergy now.

Even though I haven’t produced many songs of late, I am very happy with “Everybody Does the Best They Can” that I performed with Jessica Floresta at the Soma Center in Highland Park. There are more where that came from, still dwelling in my head. Now is the time for me to be gentle with myself and let the songs emerge when they will. I don’t mind the gentle reminders from Glenn, other friends, and potential collaborators. I am on the mission. I am also very aware of the value of the other creative things I am doing now and I feel at peace in following the trail of the creative impulses that are calling me.

My dreams have been inspiring in recent weeks. I’ve been enjoying writing them down and the morning contemplations that result. Being part of the Audacious Eleven podcast is one of my favorite expressions right now. Recent episodes have been about Luck in the Tarot, The Buddhist Excuse, People Behaving Badly, and What Hollywood Does to Our Favorite Books.

I have been very busy with SEO, Web Design, and Social Media Management. I really dig it. I used to keep my musical and creative writing life separate from any of my “other work.”  My experience of this is entirely different now. I appreciate the orderly and concrete more than some may imagine, and this branch of my work has given me a sense of much needed productivity and stability. It has been an important factor in my feeling that much happier in creative space. I have been working a lot my friend Brian Loebig at Loebig Ink. We met a number of years ago when he was booking shows at the 5th Street Coffeehouse in Philadelphia and he recruited me to perform.

In other news, two weeks ago my good friend Betty invited me to be an extra in her actor/producer brother’s comedy horror movie. It was a blast being a vampire for a day! Last weekend, I was invited to play guitar for the very talented Brienna DeVlugt for two very different happenings – a Lord & Taylor fashion show and later that same day for a West Philly community event. In February I created a workshop focusing on non-binary gender identity at the Poly Living conference. Sometimes no matter what I do, I perpetually feel less busy and less productive than I’d like to be, but as I say, I try to be gentle with myself and take time to appreciate this eclectic cycle of events.

I have had a lot of activity out in the world given the internal shifts and changes and inner work that has needed attention. I recently had the fastest end of major relationship and beginning of new major relationship I’ve ever experienced in my life. This has been a lot to process. I am trusting. My head and heart have been spinning now for the better part of a year, and now I find myself happy and centered in a space of love.

This year, there will be songs and I predict projects I haven’t even yet considered. I am in the mood to simply see what’s next. Right now life has a lot to do with peaceful enjoyment, finding – and creating – day-to-day stride, and nurturing precious new connections.

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