word adventure comes from the word advenire - meaning to arrive/ reach
has meanings of a happening, miracle, wonder, danger, risk, chance event
which. So as we arrive at another December, we may reflect on what
adventures we’ve had during the closing year and what lies ahead on the
Singing is an adventure where we discover and celebrate our inner and outer diversity.
At my Forest Hill Singing Group last night, one of the participants commented how singing gives voice to many different aspects of self. This was after an evening where we had sung a Ghanian work song, a Zulu spiritual and I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles complete with real bubbles, music hall style around the joanna (!?) I deliberately work with an eclectic range of music because I’m aware that singing different styles activates the immense diversity of expression available within us.
We have so many places within us which are longing to be heard and singing can touch, soothe, empower and give voice to them all.
I’m aware that singing Gospel connects me with a deep reservoir of spiritual strength during times of adversity whilst singing English folk songs brings out the Storyteller in me. Hollering an Emile Sande chorus with teens soothes my inner rebel whilst singing Jazz standards nourishes my eternal romantic. Watching the massive Sing for Water West choir sing an epic version of Tears for Fears Shout earlier this year energised my activist.
Respecting Diversity of Expression
It’s so important to respect and validate each others expression as we journey on this path, even when it’s challenging. I once lived beneath an alcoholic who used to play Meatloaf at window shaking levels, which was incredibly invasive. My sister, a Police Sergeant, encouraged me to use one of her strategies for dealing with difficult people - ‘kill them with kindness.’ So I began to befriend what turned out to be a rough diamond of a man whose way of dealing with traumatic events was to get smashed and play music at earsplitting levels. It was his medicine - whilst I would happily leave Meatloaf back in the 80s along with shoulder pads and pixie boots (shudder) - for him it activated the emotions he needed to access. Once I understood that he just needed some time to be noisy, we were able to reach a friendly understanding that he would turn the music down after an agreed time period and he began to act kindly towards me.
Claiming the full rainbow of our expression
We are not monochrome, nor are our experiences and emotions tidy or compartmentalisable. We need to be able to safely give vent to our rage and dismay at injustices, to our loves and losses, our victories and our trials and tribulations. I really believe that it’s life saving when we do, because the energy of trapped emotions and unprocessed stories sits about in our bodies. As well as preventing illness, healthy expression prevents violence - City University have launched the Changing Behaviours — Changing Futures programme of speech lessons for teens to because a research has shown a link between violent crime and communication issues. Singing and sounding gives full, healthy, radiant expression to the vibrant spectrum of our mental, spiritual, physical and emotional colours.
I warmly you invite me to join me at this months festive events
I also have a new menu of individual sessions for those of you wishing to take a personalised adventure of sound and expression.
As a special Seasonal Gift I’m offering a gift copy of your choice of one of my albums for any session booked before 21st December.
Do let me know how your adventures are proceeding - I’d love to hear from you.
Wishing you an Adventurous Festive Season
Adventurous Voice Tips for December
1. Experiment with singing and listening to music from different genres especially those out of your normal repertoire or comfort zone
2. Listen with curiosity and empathy to people who express themselves in ways that are challenging for you.
3. Find music that helps you express different aspects of yourself - which songs does your inner rebel/ teen/ lover/ warrior/ witch/ wizard want to sing?
The Moving Voice
Dancing Your Song and Singing Your Dance
I am delighted to be collaborating on a special Dance & Voice event with wonderful Beverley Drumm, founder of Nectar of Life
this month. Our discussions have got me thinking about the
relationship of movement and voice and how both support the liberation
of joyous, authentic self-expression.
Dancer in the Dark - Ramtin Zanjani
If theater is ritual, then dance is too... It's as if the threads connecting us to the rest of the world were washed clean of preconceptions and fears. When you dance, you can enjoy the luxury of being you.
- Paulo Coelho
Movement liberates us from the constrictions of habitual postures and grooves we have got caught up in. In shaking out our bodies, our voices are also liberated. My first singing teacher, the wonderful Jana Dugal, used to get me to run round the room when I was nervously about singing. It instantly loosened me up and took my self-consciousness away.
Take a walk and a warble on the wild side
There is a need to find and sing our own song, to stretch our limbs and shake them in a dance so wild that nothing can roost there, that stirs the yearning for solitary voyage. ― Barbara Lazear Ascher
When we reclaim our voices and our bodies, we gain access to an enormous amount of primal, wild energy. The internal intelligence within us (call it what you will Higher Self, Intuition, Psychic Sat Nav, spider sense) becomes more clear and apparent. In that moment of knowing ‘yes this is what I want to sound, this is how I want to move’ we become more available and empowered to make new choices. This liberates our wildness, creativity and the positive power of the inner rebel to chart our own course in life.
Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music ― William Edgar Stafford
Singing and dancing liberates the playful child within us and moves us from analysis to curiousity, from fear to adventure. We drop the judgements that inhibit our engagement with life and become participants instead of observers. We jump in, get muddy, mucky, messy and allow ourselves to enjoy, laugh, wail, whoop, scream, boogie-woogie, wobble, fall over, jump, hop, cartwheel, foxtrot.
To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. - Agnes De Mille
I do not own a TV so I notice what programmes seem to be captivating people on Social Media - and right up there at the top are Strictly Come Dancing and Gareth Malone’s The Choir. There is a fascination with the process of learning to dance and sing that has millions tuning in to watch the current heroes and heroines being put through their paces. It is instinctively understood that to express ourselves creatively involves courage, discipline and the willingness to change and go beyond our everyday concepts of who we are.
Our biological rhythms are the symphony of the cosmos, music embedded deep within us to which we dance, even when we can't name the tune.
- Deepak Chopra
We are innately tuned to natural rhythms - from our heart beat, to the cycle of the moon - everything has a innate moving music to it. You only have to look around a tube carriage of commuters plugged into their ipods to see that we instinctively respond to music by moving and sounding - foot tapping, head nodding, finger twitching, humming, whistling - even in the most constrained of spaces, we are singing and dancing.
On many an occasion when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. - Michael Jackson
Paradoxically, it is when we feel most ourselves, express our uniqueness that we are most able to feel connected to everything around us. As we dance our own dance and sing our own song, we remember that everything is dancing and singing with us.
I invite you to come and connect and discover your singing dance and dancing song with us at The Art of Dance - Dance and Voice on Wednesday 20th November at the Skylight Centre.
Wishing you the joyous liberation of your unique dance and song
Moving Your Voice Tips
1. Shaking - liberate your expression by standing with knees soft, feet planted then shaking the body, gently then with increasing strength. Relax your jaw, open your mouth and allow sounds of all shapes and sizes to emerge.
2. Moving Sound, Sounding Movement - allow yourself to move and stretch, sounding as you do so - what is this sound of my elbow bending? how do my knees sing as they bend?
3. Freestyle - put on your favourite track of the moment and sing and dance it to your hearts content.
You May… – For Tibet
“I am giving away my body as an offering of light to chase away the darkness, to free all beings from suffering, and to lead them.. to the Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light. My offering of light is for all living beings, even as insignificant as lice and nits, to dispel their pain and to guide them to the state of enlightenment.”
It may have been
In the assembly hall of your monastery,
By a temple, a golden statue or a white stupa,
In the market place
Or on the main street of your town,
By the military base or in front of the government buildings,
That you drank or doused yourself in kerosene
And set yourself ablaze.
Your last words may have been illegible,
Wrapped in prayer flags and flames as you took your final steps -
Or distinct slogans of protest against the Chinese Government,
Calls to Free Tibet
Pleas for the return of the Dalai Lama, the Kamapa and the Panchen Lama
May have been heard
As you held your hands in prayer.
You may have died immediately
Or police may have doused you in water,
Kicked you as you burned,
And taken you away -
Issued news of your death
- Or none at all.
Hundreds of people may have attended your last rites,
Surrounded by swarms of armed police,
Or you may still be hospitalized now
With little hope of survival.
Your body may have been covered in prayer shawls,
Taken by monks for rituals,
Or cremated swiftly on orders of the authorities.
You may have been returned to your family
Or placed in a bag by officials and never seen again.
You may have been a highly regarded scholar or teacher
A devoted monk or nun,
A father, a mother
A sister, a brother
A husband, a wife
To those who may have been arrested, detained, beaten or killed after your death
Or who may live still to see your burning image every night before sleep.
Katie Rose 8.5.2013
About The Poem
The text of this poem uses phrases taken from the reports of the Self-Immolations by Tibetans which can be found on the International Campaign for Tibet Website –
Since 2009 there have been 116 self-immolations within Tibet and 5 in exile, most of which have taken place in the last two years. As there has been an increased attempt by Chinese authorities to suppress coverage of these graphic protests prompted by the violations of Human Rights faced by Tibetans, it is possible that there have been others.
You may.. reflects the uncertainty and missing information about many of the cases.
Stand with Tibet - Ways You Can HelpThe Tibet Society - Lobby Parliament
Singing Through Sticky
in South London the arrival of winter was announced by a wild wind that
shook many trees from their roots. Streets were strewn with splintered
tree branches as the clocks were turned back, moving us into the darker
part of the year.
So on Samhain, I find myself asking - what can singing bring to the splintered parts of ourselves and the sticky, tricky dark times?
When there is less light in any situation - whether materially or metaphorically - we cannot rely on appearances alone. We are called on to listen and intuit more deeply, to feel into the still place within every storm and navigate our way through the night. Singing sharpens our listening and our connection to our imagination and intuition.
Closing the Gap
Have you ever found there’s a gap between your thoughts, intentions and desired communications and the actual expression of them? A daily singing practice, like any form of meditation not only keeps us calm, centred, happy and well but also enables us to clarify our communications. By taking time alone to reflect and understand ourselves we are more able to be expressed clearly around others. Our best intentions become embodied and we act from a more integrated place.
Some things cannot be spoken, there just aren’t words for them. This is why we need access to the whole spectrum of expression including howling, weeping, wailing, lamenting, keening, screaming, shouting, yodelling, giggling, chuckling, gurgling, grunting, groaning, moaning, murmuring, humming, whooping, yelling. The safe use of abstract sounding allows us to get raw and real with ourselves and release our inner gremlins.
Finding the treat in tricky
When things get tough communication can break down. Staying in connection can involve being willing to say tricky things, discuss taboo topics and uncomfortable truths. The consequences we fear are often surprisingly less scary and have far less repercussions than the consequences of keeping them hidden in the shadows. The tricky when faced can often become a treat.
A wise friend said to me this week that ‘two rights can conflict.’ We are all people with truths and unique perspectives. It is necessary that we discover, debate and dialogue with our difference. When used consciously, creative conflict moves us forward, helping us distinguish and develop our unique contributions. Whole fields of knowledge are enriched by conflict - psychotherapy grew as a field because Jung diverged in opinion from Freud.
In many of our ancestral communities singing was a way to keep warm and weather the storms of life - to fire up the spirit on dark nights and pass on stories, lessons, warnings and advice. Singing enables to celebrate our ancestries and lineages and to be enriched by being immersed in the diverse rhythms and melodies of our global community.
May all your tricks transform to sweet treats this Halloween :)
Do join me at this months special events.
Please do feel free to comment - I’d love to hear about your singing journey.
Voice Remedies for Winter Times
1. Drink Sage Tea
2. Boil raw ginger, lemon and, if brave, garlic in a pan for 20 mins then add honey.
3. Gargle with warm salt water
4. Steam - put a few drops of olbas or eucalyptus oil in a bowl of boiling water, lean over the bowl with your head under a towel and inhale deeply.
5. Adorn yourself with scarves.
Photo: Man Ray - Lee Miller
The Singing Tardis
Musical Time Travel
One of the things that amazes me about my experience of sounding is how it can bring create connections across time and space. The creative process of interacting with a song and its story, draws me into the present moment of my own story and creates a transformation whose effects extend into the future.
Every song has a lineage behind it and a context from which it emerged, so singing it connects me to an amazing tapestry of colours and flavours. Whenever I sing, I become present to myself and become very aware of my sensations, feelings, thoughts, intentions, and the connections I am making with others around me. Those connections often sow seeds for the future experiences, relationships and collaborations.
this week I’ve been learning songs for community music project with
babies and recalling nursery rhymes my parents sang to me, having
learned them in their own early years. I’m now singing these songs with
babies who will sing way beyond my time on the planet. Singing becomes
a creative form of time travel which enables me to connect with my
ancestors, my family, members of my community and the future generation.
The story that goes back and back and back and on and on and on…
On 10th November I’m due to perform a 16 verse song, Lord Allenwater, at a gig with the False Beards (a duo composed of Ian Anderson and Ben Mandelson who perform ‘old time english blues psych folk world twangery’) The song tells the tale of the final days of Lord Derwentwater, who was beheaded in 1716 for his participation in the Jacobite rebellion. The transmission of it is also a tall tale, for it was collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams in 1904 from Emily Stears, who happens to be the great grandmother of Ian Anderson, who was actually taught the song by the Shirley Collins before realising he was ancestrally related to it.
I first heard Ian sing Lord Allenwater in his kitchen sometime in
2008-ish, a musical light bulb combusted in my head and I had immediate
desire to sing it, an inspiration which manifested last year when we
recorded it for the False Beards EP Ankle. Lord
Allenwater has a lot to answer for because before I heard his noble
tale sung (I’ve always had a soft spot for rebels) I’d never felt any
desire to return to the folk songs I heard in my childhood. That first
spark of connection ignited a process that later resulted in an EP (fol-de-rose) an album (Empty Cup) and some very strange experiences along the way, both with and without beards. What a difference a song makes…!
The fluidity of time
Time becomes very fluid in musical experience, so much so that it is actually impossible to extricate past, present and future into neat parcels. My experience of sound teaches me that time is cyclic and is constantly echoing, resonating, remembering, returning and recreating itself. I realise that past, present future are not fixed destinations but actually simultaneously interacting layers of reality.
In his recent speech on receiving the PEN/Pinter Prize, Information is Light, Tom Stoppard quotes Harold Pinter as saying “If the past can be obscure, why not the present?" explaining that “other people's lives come at us without a backstory most of the time. The present is like that.”
present is an immensely rich and amazing moment in time, inextricably
interconnected with our backstory and burgeoning with future
possibilities. Paradoxically it’s full potential is often most fully
enjoyed when we forget everything and forsee nothing.
Recovering the imagined lands
All artforms invite us to engage in a process of sustained concentration which brings us into a meditative state of self-reflection in the now. In this state it is possible to untangle our backstories, fully enjoy the present and chart a clear pathway ahead. We are also able to connect with the stories of those who have come, gone and will walk alongside or beyond us.
Neil Gaiman, describes in his article Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming how reading enables us to develope empathy - a vital ingredient for social cohesion.
“You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.
Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.”
enables me to time travel to other stories, places, states of mind and
realms of reality. I am daily transformed by the liberating force of
the sound current as it flows through me, prompting reflection,
The Communion that Creates Community
In my work supporting others to sing and express themselves, I witness individuals retrieving the power of their expression from places where it was previously locked away in their back story. Through creative dialogue with our stories, the future becomes full of new possibilities. The vibrant, empathic connections created by people who sing in groups enables them to join together to make a difference in the world.
Ultimately for me sounding continually creates states of communion within individuals which then enables them to create a community which includes all the stories that have gone before, are still being told and are yet to be told.
Singing Tardis offers us all the chance to play Doctor Who, to take
hold of the immense power of all that time has, is and will be and bring
our full imagination and creativity to the task of transforming our
Wishing you creative, imaginative and transformational travels
Music of the Mind
This month I am honoured to be part of two wonderful charity events both of which have prompted me to think more deeply about the essential contribution of music to healthy mental wellbeing throughout life.
You Can Sing! a special free Singing Workshop on 12th October, 2-5pm, at The Bedford supported by Happy Soul - an independent Charity that uses the arts in an innovative way to de-stigmatise mental health and promote well-being.
How Singing Supports Mental Wellbeing
Stigma it seems to me is the thing we most have to address - Stephen Fry
Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation indicate that 1 in 4 of us may experience a mental health issue during our life time, anxiety and depression being the most common. Whether it is due to a life trauma, stress, habitual thought patterns, the ageing process and/or chemical imbalance, mental distress can effect many of us. As such it is not unusual, weird or whacky - it’s simply akin to breaking a mental leg - and rather than stigmatisation and alienation requires a creative, compassionate and intelligent response.
Singing and musical have been been demonstrated to have innumerable positive benefits on our mental wellbeing since ancient times - here’s a few thoughts on how.
1. Giving Permission
Ultimately singing is about being and expressing ourselves in all our complexity -warts, wonders n all. We all long to be seen in our truth, to express our deepest feelings and fulfil our creative dreams and visions - to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. Singing is one way that we can express our deepest selves and connect with one another.
There are different kinds of issues effecting different groups in society, but singing is a kind of universal activity that people can engage in from birth onwards, literally. - Prof Stephen Clift
2. Oxygenating the Mind
The mechanics of singing require us to breath more deeply and rhythmically in order to sustain phrases and melodies, giving our cardio-vascular system a gentle work-out. Our heart rate is regulated and more oxygen reaches all parts of our body, including our brain which therefore supports more effective brain function.
3. Active Attention
Singing brings our attention into the present moment, as we concentrate on lyrics, melodies and sound patterns. The Gamelan Project has demonstrated that children with ADHD showed improvements in their ability to concentrate after participating in music projects. Director of the project ethnomusicologist Dr Alex Khalli says in a BBC Article:
By learning music, one of the things you learn is rhythm and how to be aware of the temporal dynamic of the world around you and how to keep your attention focused on all of these things while you do what you do.
4. Regulating Thought Patterns
Singing replaces the erratic thought patterns experienced during mental disturbance with regulated, rhythmic sound waves. A recent BBC article features a Study by the University of St Andrew, in Scotland which demonstrates an increase in mental function in musicians:
Our study shows that even moderate levels of musical activity can benefit brain functioning. Our findings could have important implications as the processes involved are amongst the first to be affected by aging, as well as a number of mental illnesses such as depression. The research suggests that musical activity could be used as an effective intervention to slow, stop or even reverse age, or illness related decline in mental functioning. - Dr Ines Jentzsch, Psychologist
Music requires a whole-brain response, synchronising kinesthetic, linguistic, emotional and sensory responses. This means it has the capacity to bring profound relief for those experiencing Alzheimers, Parkinsons and Dementia - as explained by Founder of The Alzheimers Society project Singing for the Brain - Chreanne Montgomery Smith
There is a remarkable preservation of melody and the words of songs in the brain. You've got rhythm in one side of the brain and the memory for words in the other side of the brain. The idea of remembering melody and emotion together is very strongly protected. It's not that a particular spot of damage is going to ruin it.
5. Fear busting
When we sing we move from a state of ‘I Can't to I Can - from fear to confidence. Singing alleviates anxiety, inhibitions, self-doubt and other negative mental states because it offers a safe space to express ourselves. As we learn and develop our confidence whilst singing, we become brave, creative and expressive beings. An NHS video features the story of Jane who overcame her phobia of driving through singing.
It's producing a sound from your own mouth that then is reverberated by others in your group and you produce a huge sound; It's changed my life, basically. I know it sounds really dramatic, but that's what happened. Phobias can tend to be all dominating in your life and I was very much out of control with it. And I'm not any more. And I think that's probably one of the biggest messages, that you can get some kind of control back again in your own life. - Jane
6. Emotional Expression
Singing gives outlet to our feelings in all their spectrum - for every life experience and state of mind there exists a song - whether it already exists or is waiting for us to write it.
There are lots of songs that are chosen that allow people to express, in a safe environment, uncomfortable emotions which they really can't express to each other, so it's done in song. It is a little tension-valve release. - Chreanne Montgomery Smith
As difficulties, tensions and painful feelings are expressed through song, there is an increase in positive feeling states - Dr Maria Sandgren, Psychologist at Department of Psychology, University of Stockholm, Sweden measured the emotional effects of singing on 218 singers in Stockholm:
Results indicated that choral singing had strong effects on the well being in that positive emotions increased significantly and, in turn, negative emotions radically subsided. In conclusion, I found that choral singers, particularly women, are happier, more alert and relaxed after a rehearsal.
In a recent talk about The Power of the Mind in Getting Well, Dr Janet Hranicky said one of the most overlooked factors in health recovery was our biological need for bonding - to feel physically, emotionally and mentally close to others and to share positive, nourishing relationships. Studies have shown that singers in choirs release oxytocin which is the hormone released during birth and sex that supports the bonding process.
We could also see that they felt more together after the choral singing and also less alone. Choral singing is definitely a very social phenomenon. - Dr Maria Sandgren
More simply put, singing helps us to remember that we belong to one another.
Do join me at this months events to celebrate the monumental magic of musicWishing you the joyous singing of your own song
Singing Makes Peace
I just took part in Sing for Water this weekend, an event which brings together a mass choir of 800 people at the Thames Festival to raise funds for WaterAid’s life saving projects in Ghana. Founder Helen Chadwick told us that she was initially motivated to create the project partly by her frustration at the start of the war in Afghanistan which went ahead despite massive protests at the time -
‘What you are creating’ she said ‘is peace.’
‘What you are creating’ she said ‘is peace.’
This is true on many, many levels: -
singing makes peace
singing makes peace
As we approach Peace Day this Equinox, here’s my thoughts on how:
Personally, singing enables us to make peace with ourselves.
Singing brings us into a connected space where all levels of awareness - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual - become integrated and focussed intentionally.
When singing, we begin to breathe more deeply and rhythmically which regulates our heart-beat and brain waves - our whole body gets a melodic work out. As we concentrate on lyrics and melody, our mind becomes calm and centred. Connecting with the meanings and feelings of a song brings us into emotional connection, enabling us to express ourselves deeply. We become more present to our own presence and gain perspective. We enter a meditative state of creative connection.
Its a great boost of confidence for singers to learn a wide range of songs and perform in a huge choir to an enthusiastic and participative audience at the Thames Festival. This year I was so proud of the members of Forest Hill Singing Group and also my Dad (John Burden) who all sang and fundraised admirably. There was water in our eyes as well as the skies,as we were all immensely moved by the profound power of being immersed in such a huge sound with such a big-hearted intention.
Socially, singing helps us make peace with one another
Singing together creates a sense of unity. When we sing together in a group, we move and breathe together and our heart beats become regulated. I often find myself standing in front of groups of seeming-strangers who within a few moments of singing together become a community. This is why singing can be such an amazing tool for conflict resolution, mediation and dialogue.
At Sing for Water, choirs come together not just at the big day but also beforehand, as choir leaders collaborate on leading shared rehearsals. Many choir leaders have been inspired to create Sing for Water events across the UK and beyond, (including Sing for Water North, Sing for Water West and Sing for Water Leicester) which as Helen points out makes it a collectively owned project. It’s a massively creative process which enables singers to meet, co-create and share a unifying experience together.
Globally, singing helps us make peace across the planet.
With our current technology, we now have an amazing platform for global connection. Eric Whitacre speaks of how seeing the first finished video of the Virtual Choir - a project whose most recent project Fly to Paradise featured 5,905 singers from 101 countries - brought him to tears: “The intimacy of all the faces, the sound of the singing, the obvious poetic symbolism about our shared humanity and our need to connect; all of it completely overwhelmed me.”
There is something truly amazing about participating in an event like Sing for Water which transforms people’s lives across the globe. Easily preventable diseases claim the lives of one child every second because they lack access to clean water. The shocking and inspiring fact is that it is so easy to solve and costs so little - only £15 to give one person access to clean water for life. So the funds raised make a big difference, demonstrating that when we all share resources creatively, everyone benefits.
If you feel moved, please do make a donation at my Just Giving Page.
Ecologically, singing helps us make peace with the planet
Becoming aware of our own innate rhythms attunes us to nature. As we breathe out, plants breathe in. The tidal rhythms of our own inner waters are affected by every sound we encounter and emit. We become aware that we are actually composed of waves of vibrations that interact with the vibrations of everything around us. So as we listen for our own song, we become more attuned to our environment - the big symphony of nature around us. When waves of thick oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 I felt a shock wave passing through my body that prompted me to sing, a song that grew into an album (Shiva’s Rain 2011) which grew into a connection with Sing for Water
Sing for Water is just one project of so many across the planet where singing is being used to make peace and change lives. It’s message is simple - we can sing and we can change our world, one beautiful peaceful note at a time.
and invite you to join us at the special Heaven on Earth Equinox Gathering where we will be harvesting and celebrating together.
Wishing you a peaceful Equinox
Shalom, Shanti, Salam, Peace
After Sing for Water with John Burden (my Dad☺)
connect to the world through the sound: the chatter of people, the hum
of the traffic, the whisper of touch, the percussion of a heartbeat.”
- Caro Ness - A Space for Silence
I’m having some absolutely amazing adventures with sound at the moment and just wanted to share my excitement with you.
This week I read an article that suggested that our nerves communicate by sound rather than electricity. This correlates with the profound experiences of sound I have witnessed with clients with chronic illnesses such as MS and Cancer. Release from pain and tension becomes available when our nervous systems are soothed and nourished by experiences of sonic relaxation. The caress of beautiful music goes way deeper than the skin, massaging our inner awareness and giving space for our body systems to breathe, rejuvenate and rebalance. Author Caro Ness describes her experience of our sessions in this beautiful poem:
Lie back on your bed, and close your eyes,
Time to shut out the world, re-energise.
Watch your breath, yes, contemplate,
What it is to be still, then meditate.
Now the therapy begins and the sound starts to grow,
And you’re washed in pure music from your head to your toe.
A brush on a gong that reverberates,
And every bone in your body melts and disintegrates…
The melodious tone of a singing bowl,
That speaks to the mind, the heart, the soul.
A chord on marimba, some notes on the flute,
Arpeggios played on the sitar or lute.
Unaccompanied chants, a roll on a snare drum,
A tip from a rain stick so your sinews hum.
Your body is washed with a beautiful noise,
That gives you a feeling of well-being and poise,
A thrum of unique notes that creates a beautiful sound,
That is loving and giving and very profound.
There is in every ancient civilisation, a deep acknowledgement of the healing power of sound. The indigenous peoples of the earth have a profound understanding of the way in which sound connects every living being. In the film The Weeping Camel modern day Mongolians use this ancient understanding to heal the relationship between a mother camel and her calf. Early hospitals in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and Persia all used music for the treatment of illness. Traditional Chinese Medicine, first documented in 440BCE, still uses vocal tones as part of their diagnosis and treatment. In both the Middle East and India we find advanced systems in which pieces of music (Makams/Raags) were prescribed to be played at specific times of the day to assist with different conditions. Centuries later Western composers would debate the effect of different musical modes and intervals on the emotional states of their listeners - something which modern day marketers put to full effect.
In our cells, we know and remember that sound is the essence of our existence and that we hum and vibrate at the frequencies of our longings, dreams, emotions, thoughts and visions. Sound has the capacity to shake and remake us, to reconnect and regenerate every nerve in our body and to enable us to communicate radiantly and radically in the world.
This means when we fine tune the instrument of our expression, our voice - our whole world begins to change. The ancients across all cultures understood that each individual was a microcosm of the whole, so when just one person reclaims their voice, we are all liberated by their expanded presence. In recent workshops and sessions, I’ve been honoured to witness lions and lionnesses reclaiming their roar and enjoying all the subtle nuances of their expression.
It's a beautiful thing when you know exactly when to purr and when to roar.... Nikki King
become so creative and courageous when we Roar for those things which
matter to us. The Commons have Roared a NO to military action against
Syria this week and inspirational campaigners are roaring against
fracking across the UK.
I shall be roaring for WaterAid with 800 singers at Sing for Water at the Thames Festival this month. I’ve done a virtual busk and will be busking at a mainline station very soon - it's so amazing to see what happens when I get in action for my passion and let the sound current take me where it will. Please do throw some pennies in my virtual bucket! :)
Thank you so much for listening
I look forward to singing and sharing sound magic with you soon!
Wishing you a super soulful sonic September.
Folk Got Soul
Dear <<First Name>>
I’ve just landed back in town for a few days in between festies, emerging from what felt step back into an ancient world of music at at Sidmouth Folk Week.
clusters of singers, fiddle and melodeon players, bards, storytellers
and morris dancers gathering in every corner they could find was just so
enlivening. Music flowed like a pulsing, resonant river through every
vein and chamber of the seaside town.
It prompted me to ask again what’s at the core of traditional songs - why do they sing on? what do they have to teach us?
1. Oral history
In times gone by before TVs and radios, singing and storytelling was the way people would have processed the events of their day. I am aware that this is the case for many cultures, and use English songs here only because I am more familiar with them. Many traditional songs are based on real life goings on - Molly Bawn is based on ‘The shooting of his dear’ a true story of an accidental shooting, The Water is Wide grew out of the tale of a unhappy aristocratic marriage. Folk Songs were olden days newsreels and celebrity gossip. Their themes are still relevant today - people are still shooting, leaving and loving one another everyday.
‘Come all you young men, who go a courting, pray you give attention to what I say’ - so says the words of The Sweet Primroses. The endless tales of Love’s merry and maddening dance fill the folk ballads of yesteryear. Songs like The Foggy Dew would have been sex education for many a youngster. Like almost every song in the current mainstream pop charts, there are songs that teach, warn, moralize, eroticize, celebrate, commiserate and commemorate every possible convolution of romance.
Whether its the song of a woman wronged by her lover, a man taken off to sea against his will or the more obviously politicized songs which accompany uprisings throughout history, singing empowers people to raise their voices and right their wrongs.
4. Work Songs
The rhythm of labour is built into many folk songs - the choruses of sea shanties like Way Haul Away contain the motion of rowing. Like the spirituals that emerged from slavery, songs arose from people immersed in the routines of work, helping them survive. Many folk songs were collected from working class communities by upper class song collectors, who received accolades, memorials, libraries etc but the rhythm of the songs remind us of the very real conditions they emerged from and resonate with the memory of many an unnamed heroine/hero.
Folk songs can seem incredibly morbid at times, written as they were in times when life expectancy was shorter and death walked hand in hand with life. They can be a refreshing antidote to the sanitized denial of death that often occurs in modern day life.
Whether it’s jealous sisters, ugly uncles, spiteful stepmothers, fearsome fathers, betrayed lovers or dastardly womanisers, the characters of folk songs come armed with guns, axes, swords, bottles, knives, ropes, poison or simply their own fair hands. In harder times, a quick push into the river or over a cliff would settle the issue of feeding another hungry child or supporting a pregnant woman. Scores are settled with a very rough justice - a man who has eloped with a woman on false pretences finds the tables turned when he tries to push her in the sea (Lady Isabel). The very bottom of the barrel of human behaviour is excavated unflinchingly in songful catharsis.
In folk songs, ghosts return from the grave, the heads of the beheaded speak and strange signs, omens, riddles punctuate the tellings of tall tales. Whatever our beliefs about the afterlife, the ancestors definitely make their presence felt in the often eerie breeze of these melodies. My father has excavated our ancestral connection to Thomas Hardy’s grandfather (also called Thomas Hardy) who ran the Stinsford String Choir which played weekly in the West Gallery of his village church, at a time when I am feeling the urge to pick up my violin bow again, so I certainly felt mine whispering to me this week.
If you'd like to venture further down the twisting lanes of folk songs, do join me for two special Summer workshops Folk Got Soul Singing Workshops.
Katie Rose’s Virtual Busk for WaterAid
As I am once again joining Sing for Water - a momentuous gathering of 800 singers at the Thames Festival raising funds for WaterAid - where I busk ‘Maid on the Shore’ from my album Empty Cup - please do have a listen and throw some pennies in my virtual bucket.
Wishing you wonderful songful summer times
In honour of being alive for 37 years, here’s 37 Things I feel immensely grateful for.
1. YOU!!! - and my human family - I feel so incredibly blessed to exist amongst such a wonderful community of friends. Thank you for being alive at this time with me!
2. My birth family - for their endless patience with my weird and wonderful ways.
3. Life - thankful for being here and inhabiting this crazy body vehicle and for the basic fuels that enable it to stay on the road - breath, food, warmth, shelter and, of course, tea.
4. This AMAZING Planet - and the infinite beauty of Nature - particularly Trees, Water, big Cats and Roses :) My little spot of earth that I rustle about in here in Crystal Palace.
5. My senses - having grown up with a grandmother who was deaf and having worked with those with sensory impairments for over 20 years, I am acutely aware that being able to experience all the tastes, touches, sights, scents and sounds of life is very precious.
6. Movement - learning to understand my own physical backtofrontwardness has given me a huge appreciation of now being able to move, dance, cycle, yoga and shimmy.
7. Passion - the dynamic energy that propels us to create, birth, bond and unite. The ability to feel deeply and feel for others - compassion.
8. Deep Connection - and the dance of intimacy.
9. Power - the sunshine of strength, courage, confidence, independence, individuality and self-determination within all of us.
10. Freedom - to make choices and the responsibility to make them wisely.
11. Money - as a form of exchange that saves a lot of time that would otherwise be spent doing the ‘how many beans for your cow?’ routine.
12. Challenges and conflicts - and what they teach me.
13. Difference - diversity brings so much colour, texture and spice to life.
14. Love - in all its magnificent manifold forms.
15. Play - the joy and delight of being very, very silly and laughing until its beyond silly.
16. Community - I’ve had so much fun, work, play and party time with the most truly extraordinary creative people. It was so amazing to celebrate the 4th Birthday of The Garden of Roses at Inspiral last week - 46 events featuring over 100 artists at InSpiral - all made possible by love and generous collaborative community spirit.
17. Communication and creative expression - in all its forms - writing, poetry, art, music, dance. I am acutely aware of the power of words to reframe our perceptions and also conversely the limitation of words and the value of non-verbal communication.
18. Music - essential medicine which transforms the vibration of every aspect of our being.
19. Singing - for me, it’s the direct line to heaven (aka ecstatic meditative experiences).
20. Chanting - mantras could be described as the dial up code on the direct line to heaven.
21. The Big Om - the sonic big boOM of creation - huge Big Up for the beautiful Barefoot Doctor - and his truly life changing Big Om experiences.
22. Musical instruments - piano was my first love and I now have a family of sonic beings who travel around me - gong, singing bowls, flute, tampuri etc.
23. Composition - birthing pieces of music and albums is one of my life’s big adventures. I feel particularly honoured to have composed a piece for Road to Peace, a film about the Dalai Lama. Big shout out to my producer Scott Turner at Spiritual Studio.
24. Choirs - the exquisite sound of voices joining together in harmony gives me shivers, tingles and frequently brings me to tears. Particular thanks to Croydon Intercultural Singing Project & my Forest Hill Singing Group.
25. Sing for Water - being part of this amazing project which features huge amounts of people singing together to raise funds for WaterAid has been so immensely life-enriching - the power of song in action.
26. Supporting others to sing and sound - I get such a huge buzz out of seeing people reclaim their voices - whether one to one or in groups - its so amazing!
27. Imagination - meditating and journeying with clients has revealed to me that our lives are beautiful tapestries with intricately perfect strands of meaning and symbolism. Our imagination enables us to re-weave and re-vision our worlds and to create new pathways, choices and perspectives.
28. Learning - it goes on and on and on - I am forever grateful to my teachers, mentors and guides - and the amazing sources of wisdom and knowledge I have accessed.
29. Healing - so many amazing modalities exist for us to transform our awareness - my particular loves are coaching, reiki, massage, reflexology, tarot, kabbalah, meditation and acupuncture.
30. Travel - inner and outer voyages to places known and unknown. It’s so important to keep stretching beyond the familiar. I’ve experienced the grace of adventures to many far flung places, of which Turkey and New Zealand have impacted me most deeply.. so far...
31. Solitude - is the deep soil in which I grow my ideas, reflections, creations.
31. Silence - stillness, peace.
32. Darkness - the womb of creation. Death and the space it creates for more life.
33. Miracles - they happen all the time!
34. The Ancestors - and their legacy of gifts and challenges.
35. Angels - we are all angels and angelic energy is always available.
36. Spirit - the effervescent energy that enervates the great symphony of existence. The great numinous spirits that have inspired devotion throughout time across all spiritual practices.
37. Mystery - As Socrates said ‘As for me, all I know is that I know nothing’
It’s been magical writing this, thanks for reading - beaming over huge amounts of love, appreciation and gratitude to you!
Wishing you a wonderful August
Garden of Roses 4th Birthday Party
Gayatri & Cate Mackenzie
Mantra of the Month - THANKYOU
How many truly madly deeply loving expressions of gratitude can we share this month?
Let’s make August the Month of Augmented Appreciation!
The Raw ROAR
Having had some wonderful experiences in workshops and 121 sessions this month, I wanted to share some insights I’ve gained through witnessing the roar in action.
By roaring I mean the liberation of our truthful, primal, creative voice which is often suppressed and compressed into the neat and tidy, polite voice that says ‘please may I, perhaps, maybe, could I possibly, I was just wondering if...’
It is the rawness of our roar that contains the key to both its power and its vulnerability. So the key to reclaiming our roar requires the ability to get raw with ourselves, to be able to be present to the full technicolour glory of our existence. So where does our roar get lost and how can we recover it?
Compounded emotions of centuries of familial, social and cultural conditioning can come to greet us when we attempt to open our voices. The intent, the willingness is there - but like a goldfish we may end up just blowing empty speech bubbles instead of saying those all important words - ‘I’m leaving’ ‘This isn’t working’ “I love you’ ‘I’m sorry’
Patriarchal concepts have defined emotions as being a ‘woman’s thing’ - which has resulted in the torture of women who were considered hysterical and the massacre of men who were told ‘big boys don’t cry’ and sent off to kill each other. Traditional forms of education teach children to compete for knowledge of facts and figures but very little about healthy self-expression. Newtonian scientific thought defined the body of the earth as something to be conquered and dissected, priveleging rational proof over intuitive, ethical or emotional responses.
Religious dualistic thought further aligns the feminine with the body and the masculine with the mind, the sword of truth. Detachment, ascension and liberation from the messiness of life becomes the goal. Self observation can of course can yield invaluable insights and changes in awareness. However we cannot observe something effectively if we are busy pretending that it does not exist. We must first allow the intensity of our emotions to be present and acknowledge that we are inextricably implicated in the rawness of life.
It is no surprise then that our ability to communicate effectively can feel immensely stunted and that our media is full of horror stories of those who have felt driven to express themselves violently. The glamorisation of gratuitous behaviour in movies reflects a distorted longing for a depth and intensity of authentic emotional expression.
Keeping us on the run from rawness is denial - which is the attempted suppression of the intense emotions we experience on the life ride. ‘This isn’t me. I cannot possibly be feeling this. It’s irrational. What would my mother/father/partner/friend think? I just need a drink/ cigarette/ bowl of icecream/ spliff/ internet surf.’ Denial is the partner that gets us dancing to the tune of addictions - which are substituted behaviours we have developed to survive the force of our most intense traumas. As such they to be treated with compassion and then offered to the fire.
Denial fuses with our conditioning to form a decision, belief, or deal we have made with ourselves in order to survive. A woman whose father beat her decides, ‘It’s men, they’re just like that’ - and finds herself in an abusive marriage. We justify behaviours based on beliefs we have formed. A man stuffs down the anger he felt with his dominating mother, tells himself ‘all women are bitches’ and punishes his partners by cheating. We stay hooked up on the same old drama, because it has become inextricably tied to our sense of identity and reality - the woman whose partner continually lets her down says - ‘I told you so, men can’t be trusted.’
Claiming the Freedom to Roar
Roaring propels us off the sofa of denial. It connects us with the explosive force of our deepest felt emotions. And that need not be externally noisy. That one tear that rolls down the cheek, that one pained smile, that one quiet admission - ‘yes she beats me every night’ - is the opening of the door to living beyond denial.
It’s raw to roar, no doubt about it. Living without our belief systems can feel very exposing - ‘Who am I if I don’t believe that all men are losers - I might have to become someone who loves men.’ ‘Who am I if I no longer believe that I am small and useless - I might have to take action and fulfil my dreams.’ ‘Who am I if I don’t talk down to women because I believe they are stupid? - I might have to give up being right about everything.’
The rewards of raw is that we get present and we get to speak authentically instead of from a conditioned script. We get to choose who we want to interact with instead of letting our programming determine our dancing partners. We get to be real and vulnerable and be someone who gives others permission to do the same. We get naked in the fire of our creativity and passion for life and are able to sing our song, paint our pictures, write our books and dance our dance. We allow ourselves to play, to explore, to make mistakes and to roar with laughter. We become connected to the raw source of power that throbs in every single cell of our body and we recover our vivaciousness, vitality and verve. We begin to welcome and make peace with the rawness of life. We ROAR!!!
Wishing you the joyous freedom to ROAR
♥ Hear Me Roar!!
As a Leo I have learnt to love my Roar and I am finding that more and more people around me are roaring too. In Turkey the people stood up and roared when the government attempted to cut down the trees in Gezi Park. In Brazil, the people are powerfully and peacefully roaring. Magic happens when we allow the power of our most primal voice and deepest felt inner convictions to rise up and be expressed on the wave of a ROOOAAARRRRRR!
Isn’t that nasty/ angry/ messy? - well yes, life is messy. Roaring allows us to acknowledge the chaos - and to release it in a creative, purposeful way. It allows things to go bang that need to go bang - big style!
5 Reasons to Roar
1 . It enables you to communicate your truth purposefully and directly
No beating around the bush, the lion roars it how it is.
Roaring enables you to take a stand for yourself and for causes, issues and principles that matter to you. When we are true to ourselves, our relationships become more transparent and honest.
2. It will enable you to befriend and transform your anger
There is much fear and misunderstanding of our aggressive impulses. Scary as these places can seem, pretending that they are not there does not serve us. After all, they evolved to help us get out of tricky spots in the jungle. So making friends with our RAge enables us to transform it into energetic bio-diesel. Anger can often be a red flag that our boundaries have been busted - roaring enables us to say ‘Oi! I am here and this is where my lines are’ in a firm, assertive, loving way.
We can also learn to welcome those who play out the role of our inner adversary for they ultimately challenge us to develop strength, courage, valiance, nobility and truthfulness.
After a good roar, the lion will lie down with the lamb.
3. It supports us to birth the new
The Big Bang of birth involves roaring - the roars of a woman during labour is the song which welcomes the roar of a newborn being into the world. The power of our roar, which is humming away in every one of our cells, gets things on the move.
4. Roaring enables Yes and No to be Loud and Understood
Roaring with passionate YES to life enables us to access our vitality to fully jump in - paws, tail n all - and fully engage with the great adventure of life..
Roaring a clear NO enables us to to swish our tail and put a clear, clean end to that which no longer serves.
5. Its Fun!
4 Types of Roaring
1. Inner Roar
The power of our inner thoughts is tremendous, they actually have a inaudible sound vibration that is released into the atmosphere. So if caught in a spot where roaring audibly is not appropriate, allowing a deep, calm, inner roar to rise up from the belly and be acknowledged can reconnect us to our primal power source. Roaring shifts our inner awareness and as a result we start RAdiating a new energy and giving out clearer signals.
2. Outer Roar in Private
Abstract roaring out of the context of a trigger situation can be a very helpful and healthy way to release pent-up emotions. Like a sonic storm, having a big shake and roar can leave us feeling cleansed, having found a fresh perspective, and electrified with vitality.
3. Outer Roar in Public
Sometimes we need to roar in public - to stop a child running out into the street or the person who just swiped our bag. We also need to roar in appreciation - to cheer on our team, our children, our beloveds - the word HooRAy has a roar inside it! :)
4. Outer Roar with FriendsRoaring with laughter is of course the most fun version, especially when practiced often with friends.
Wishing you a ROARINGLY wonderful Summer
Looking forward to roaring with you
Ready to Roar???
Do join me at the special HEAR ME ROAR Workshop on 18th July
Discover the power of your natural voice in a special 121 Voice Garden session.
Mantra of the Month - RA
RA - is not only the sound we use to imitate lions but also the name of the Great Egyptian Sun God - and which means the Sun in Yogic traditions. So in that huge sound is contained the power throbbing at the heart of the Sun. In many traditions we find that AH is the the sound of the heart, so we activate and focus our big heartedness in RA.
To maximise your RA, work up to it by taking some big lazy lion yawns to soften your jaw, then standing tall, release your RA whilst taking your arms up and over you, fingers outstretched to widen the arc of your heart
June Blog - The Power of Play
"Play is the highest form of research."
- Albert Einstein
- Albert Einstein
I had the honour of teaching my annual Sound Healing module at the Holistic Healing College this month - (big shout out to all the wonderful therapists who joined me there!) - and one of the themes that emerged over the weekend was just how joyful, liberating and powerful it is to play. So here’s a celebration of the power of play and the gifts it can bestow.
1. Play brings us into the present
Many of us fear being put ‘on the spot’ but actually when we are in the spotlight of our creative play, whether in public or privately, miracles start happening. The moment of our curtain call summons forth the spark of our spontaneity, our unique creative genius - and the courage to follow it.
Play brings us into the here and now, with what it is immediately in our hands and hearts. Watch any child engaged in play and you will see a passionate enquiry which requires total absorption in the process of what is happening now. Whilst there may be a vision of that which we wish to create (an album, a cake, a book) in play there is less preoccupation with an end product or result because the process of making it is so engaging.
2. Play takes us back to our Innocence
When we play we become curious and observational. In the fully engaged state we become fascinated by whatever occurs and our normal mental reasoning is suspended. We are released from the running commentary of our routine mind with its to-do lists, opinions and judgements. We let go of social roles, models and inhibitions, inhabiting the space of our essence. We learn to trust ourselves and our instincts and to let ourselves be.
3. Play liberates creative self-expression
In the being state, we begin creating and discovering. Our imagination is engaged, ideas, inspirations, concepts, perceptions and aha! moments follow. We discover more about ourselves as we encounter each moment in the process, making creative choices. It helps us understand that mis-takes are simply a necessary part of the process, which contribute to the richness of the process. This is immensely self-affirming and helps us release old stories about who we were told or think that we are. The creative process enables us to take a healthy pleasure and delight in our unique self-expression.
4. Play connects us with people
Play dissolves barriers and encourages connection. I have found so many times that introducing some spontaneous sounding creates friends out of strangers in groups within minutes. There is a wonderful relief that enters a room (regardless of whether its tough teens, street gang kids or reserved adults) when we can drop the effort of ‘looking good’ ‘getting it right’ or ‘being cool’ and enter a playful, liberated and often very silly state together.
5. Play helps us relax
Having fun is a direct route to relaxation. The laughter, joy and delight that arise during play are immensely soothing and rejuvenating. When we sing or soundplay together our brainwaves enter a more meditative state and our breathing becomes more rhythmic which can help release pain, tension and stress. We emerge from a creative, playful process with profound benefits, feeling refreshed and renewed.
I’d love to hear your stories and experiences of the power of play so do feel free to comment.
Ready to Play with the Power of your voice?- do join me in the Voice Garden this summer or at the Juicy Joyous Sound Events.
Looking forward to seeing and singing with you
♥ Super Sonic Summer Solstice
As we celebrate the longest, brightest days, take a moment to connect with your biggest, boldest vision for your life - what would it look like for you to be operating at your brightest? How would it be for you to be totally expressed in the world? What would it take? What would you need to give up and/or amplify
This month we look at Tips for Busting Fears about Singing and Speaking and work with our Mantra of the Month, the Gayatri Mantra - to expand our luminescence in the world and experience a truly Super Sonic Summer Solstice
♥ Tips from the Voice Garden - Grow Your Natural Voice
5 Steps to Busting Fears About Singing and Speaking
1. Make it About Them
Turning the spotlight off ourselves and onto our audience helps us remember that singing is actually a service, a communication and a transmission of energy. It takes the self-consciousness away when we get clear about what it is we want to give. We let go of being concerned about what sort of reception we will get and focus on gifting our audience with our committed, loving presence.
2. Tune Your Instrument
Just like any other instrument there are immediate physical actions you can take to make yourself fit to sing - breathing deeply being the first and foremost - which when done with intention will dissolve the biggest waves of fear. Taking our attention to the breath allows us to Tune In to Deeper Listening FM - to the part of us that is Attuned to stillness and observation. The witness within can watch the fearful part of us throwing a hissy fit with compassion and say ‘there now, it’s all ok’ - all whilst taking one simple long deep breath.
3. De-clutter your Psyche
This means getting on the marigolds and cleaning out all your psychic cupboards and having a dance with all the old skeletons. When we listen to the stories that are still humming within the very bones of us - ancestral, personal, collective tales - we can befriend them and start singing a new song. Part of my journey involved making peace with the cripplingly shy part of me that I inherited from generations of very quiet people on one side of my family. As I befriended and came to love the strength of silence, she began singing to me.
4. Transfer your strengths
Recall a time when you overcame a challenge nobly - the last time you helped a friend in trouble, saved a cat up a tree, climbed a mountain, ran a marathon, washed the dishes in record time. Just thinking about it will make you feel strong and that that same energy, passion, determination and courage can be immediately recalled and applied in the moment of singing. One lesson, at a time in my life where I was really enjoying giving Reiki treatments, my singing teacher said to me ‘sing as if you are giving Reiki.’ It completely transformed my singing because I could immediately align myself with powerful, calming energy and my positive experiences of Reiki and transfer it to my singing.
5. Sing everyday
Voice Gym is more fun than treadmills - you get to enjoy yourself and burn off calories singing your favourite songs. Choose a favourite song, mantra, chant, nursery rhyme, jingle and commit to singing it everyday, every which way and where you want to.
Ready to bust through some blocks to singing and speaking freely?
Do join me in the Voice Garden - unique 121 singing and sounding sessions to help you discover and celebrate the radiance of your natural voice
Ohm Bhu Bhur Bhyavassavah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Deemahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat
We meditate on the glory of the divine light, illuminating the physical, mental, and spiritual worlds - by our meditations may the beautiful, life enhancing light of creation enlighten, encourage and guide us.
This MP3 is 12 repetitions of the mantra. If you wish to sing 108 repetitions loop it 9 times! :)
Meditation - can be done whilst sunbathing! :) - align yourself with the solar energies of solstice by visualising a huge ball of golden sunshine in your solar plexus. Reclaim your power from any situation, person or place you have given it away by imagining it returning to you in streams of pure golden energy. Chant Om or any chosen solar powered mantra to whilst imagining a wonderful symbol of your choice sealing your solar plexus with golden light.
♥ Mantra Medicine sessions - £27 for 30 mins - Skype
Find your musical mojo with a medicinal mantra session.
Mantra - means a tool of the mind in Sanskrit - and there are mantras to help us address every known issue in life - relationships, money, abundance, health. Drawing on many years experience of working with chant and mantra from global traditions, I will help you find the perfect mantra prescription to support you for the next 21 days. No previous experience of singing or chanting required.
Please contact me to book a session.
Speaking Truth - May Blog
There is that old saying ‘truth will out’ - in these days of multiple interpretations, communications, connections, confusions, discombobulations and distractions, how do we stay tuned to truth? Unravelling some of the conditioning around truth gives us space to reclaim our voices and speak naturally.
Digging about in the roots of words always brings illumination - and we find that the roots of the word truth travel back to Old English, Norse, German and Gothic words meaning faithful and trustworthy, and further back to the Proto Indo-European ‘dru’ - meaning tree - which itself gives rise to Celtic words meaning strong, sure and true. Another root of our tree of truth come from the Old English ‘soo’ - sooth - also meaning true, which arises from Proto-Germanic words of similar sound and meaning and crosses continents to connect with the Sanskrit Sattvah. It is noticeable that there is no primary verb for the truth - we speak the truth - unlike lie. However when we unravel sooth we find it is related to the verb to be or exist (Proto-Indo-European - es-ont which gives rise to Latin sunt). Thus to be truthful is connected with our very existence. A further root links ‘sooth’ with Old English and Latin words related to sin and guilt - and the verb ‘to be’ is used here in the sense of ‘to be the one found guilty’ as used in confession.
This yields an enormous amount of insight. Firstly - truth is our inherent nature and as such it is sure, strong, trustworthy and faithful as an oak tree. Secondly - when blended with socio-religious concepts of sin/guilt our truth becomes something we confess. Which accounts for why sometimes it appears to be difficult to share - because already we have been judged guilty - either internally or externally - before we confess it.
Artists and musicians are often described as baring their souls in their poetry, song and as such are often either idolised or demonised for doing so. They may risk exile - like writer Salman Rushdie - or face loss of privacy when they allow their truth to become visible in the public domain. The fervour of a camera-clicking pack of media paparazzi tracking the scent of a celebrity exposé demonstrates just how controversial and valuable a previously unseen ‘truth’ is considered in our strange world. It is a distorted search for truth which has its roots in confession.
So is it any wonder that we both crave and fear the expression of our truth when for centuries it has been tangled up with a sense of guilt and confession - which is magnified by our media to a schizophrenic level. We are left in conflict, fearing persecution, abandonment, exile, rejection whilst longing for the embodied expression of who we really are.
Truth has also become entangled with a sense of answers. Being required as children to give ‘the right answer’ during education can condition us to feel fearful when we are asked to answer our current partner/ boss/ parent/ child. This can lead to a whole series of denials, cover-ups and compromises because we feel we cannot provide the answers others seek from us. Liberation and relief arise when we give ourselves permission to speak our truth and say ‘No’ or ‘I don’t know’. When we distinguish truth from ‘being right’ it becomes something much more wholesome than dogma.
For truth, if it is who we are and relates to our very existence, is connected to all of us - our physical, social, emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, relational aspects. It is not a right/wrong answer and yet it is also very simple. It is the sum of all of us acting in integrity. For example, Ghandi on hunger strike used the truth of what happens to a body in deprivation as a powerful means of stating his ideological, political and spiritual truth.
The simplicity of the solution lies again at the roots of our tree. To align with our own truth is firstly to get grounded. It is to connect with the very basics of our own human reality and to do that which gives us life - breathe. All that is required to connect with the true miracle of being alive in this moment is to take one long deep breath now from the depths of the belly.
The roots of who we are is present in the amazing motion of inspiration and exhalation and breath is the vehicle on which our words and communications arise. Before we speak, we are physiologically required to breathe in - to absorb inspiration - which comes from the Latin meaning to connect with our spirit, soul, strength, courage. To breathe and connect to the miracle of life is to let go of all the mental chit-chat, conditioning, conflicts and neuroses. It is to become present to the deeper intelligence which is always speaking silently within and without. When we use our Creative Intuition as our Sat Nav (Truth Navigation system!) insights and solutions arise to the most complex of conundums. We become able to mediate the conflicting voices within and around us, to observe all and to feel for a truth which honours the wholeness of situations. The truth is no longer something to be feared, exposed, confessed or admitted - it is to be revealed, celebrated, expressed, shared as it is in service to the good of all.
We are naturally built for truth and it is therefore natural that truth will indeed out.
Wishing you the natural expression of your beautiful truth
Discover Your Natural Voice
To develop your own connection to your Natural Voice - please visit the Voice Garden - special one-to-one sessions to help you weed out inhibitions, old conditions and to grow your self-expression into full bloom.
Magnificent May - Grow Your Greatness
The word May originates from words in many traditions meaning greatness, power, ability. The month may well have been named after the Roman Goddess Maia - ‘she who is great’.
The greatness of nature is now flowering after a suspended spring and prolonged winter here in London - which inspires a glow of gratitude for the abundant colourful creativity everywhere.
Like the slight bite in the spring breeze, there are also abundant challenges which test my greatness and propel me to grow. As I look at my own Voice Garden, I can see plants which are blooming and others which have not made it through the winter frost. I listen for the new songs that want to be sung and those that will waft away on the breeze and I marvel at the magnificence of the Great Garden that surrounds my small patch.
I do invite you to come and share your greatness and to grow the beauty of your voice at the forthcoming events and wish you a truly Magnificent May.
Love and Blessings
music is the art of the prophets
that can calm the agitations of the soul;
it is one of the most magnificent
and delightful presents God has given us.
- Martin Luther
April Blog: The Voice of Peace
Against a backdrop of earthquakes, wars, bombings and oppressions, I recently experienced two awakenings about the power of voice to create peace.
The first was the launch of my album Empty Cup - which made me aware of the value of voicing powerful stories from the oral tradition of english folklore, stories which resonated with my personal story and the stories of our current society. As I was recording Molly Bawn - click here to listen - the story of a woman shot accidentally by her lover - I heard a news story from the US of a toddler who had shot his mother dead by accident whilst playing with a gun.
The second was the DVD launch of the film Road to Peace at Union Chapel, an extraordinary event featuring a music concert MC’d by Stewart Pearce with chanting from the monks of Kagyu Samye Dzong, sound healing from Lama Lobsang, music from Tim Wheater, Joshua James Field and myself, a Big Om from The Barefoot Doctor and a powerful Q&A with director Leon Stuparich and the Dalai Lama’s representive Thupten Samdup. Being part of this event has heightened my awareness that peace has a voice within all of us and has amplified my commitment to be a voice for peace. I am now even more aware that the voice of peace is everywhere, struggling to be heard - even in the bombs in Boston, the fighting in Syria, the debates surrounding North Korea - there is a deep desire for peace. Those who make threats, throw bombs and repress others are feeling fearful and threatened in themselves and their actions are a distorted attempt to communicate and to find some sort of peace. Everyone contains this desire to be at peace, it is the differing beliefs and resulting behaviours about how peace is to be found which create an illusory sense of division.
That old phrase ‘anything for a peaceful life’ can for some people convey a sense of submitting, giving in so as to ‘keep the peace’ and not rock the boat. The boat sometimes has to be rocked by the storm before peace can reign - sometimes we are called to be active pacifists. I have been considering myself what actions I can take to show my support for the Tibetan people who face increasingly horrific violations of their human rights. One action we can all take is to lobby our MPs, because at the present time, out of fear of economic consequences many European leaders are not wishing to rock the boat with China. However the UN is already sounding the bell of human rights and the more of us who raise our voices to communicate our support for Tibet to the leaders of our countries, the more that bell can be peacefully sounded. You find out more about how to raise your voice for Tibet and lobby your MP at The Tibet Society.
That the raising of peaceful, non-violent voices can change the course of history is documented by the Singing Revolution a film which charts the non-violent, singing based liberation movement of Estonia between 1986-1991 which resulted in their independence from Russia. By standing in the truth of their cultural and musical tradition and sounding a courageous ‘NO’ to the Russian occupation, they were able to find peace and freedom.
So when we stand lovingly in our truth, honouring our uniqueness, we can create peace. We may be called to say No in our own personal lives - No to oppression, prejudice, injustice, violence, harassment, gossip - and when we do so with full compassion for those who are in their own way also trying to find peace - our world begins to change. We let go of blaming, naming and shaming those who resort to violence and see them as the walking wounded. We begin to disarm and to lay down our weapons and defences. We begin to walk the Road to Peace towards a world where Molly Bawn may walk amongst the bushes unharmed.
Wishing you the unique sounding of your voice for peace
* Road to Peace DVD & Music CD
DVD of the film and a CD featuring the music of Naweng Khechog, Tibetan flautist and Grammy Nominee and my composition Love and Compassion - 5% goes to support Tibet House
* Empty Cup is now available at my website - £1 from every album goes to support WaterAid.
April was the 2nd month in the Roman Calendar, dedicated to Venus or Aphrodite, which came to replace the Old English fertility Goddess Eastermonað - known also as Eostre, Astarte, Asous. So, in the Northern Hemisphere, April ushers in the beauty of fresh flowers emerging, the bursting of Nature into Spring Song and the advance into abundant new adventures, projects and connections.
Allowing the waters of our dreams, passions and yearnings to flow abundantly is the gift of these Easter Goddesses, whose songs call us to rise from the embers of winter and recreate ourselves afresh.
April is full to bursting with sonic adventures - I invite you to come and sing your spring song with me
“Rose’s own clear fountain of a voice... ripples through every nook and cranny of these narratives, casting each plain pebble as a glistening jewel” - Stephen Hunt, fROOTS Magazine
I wish to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who supported the album launch, which raised over £744 for WaterAid’s life saving projects providing clean water and sanitation for people in Ghana.
12 weird and wonderful tunes wrapped up in a rose spiral, sustainably packaged by We-Wow, with a special PDF booklet about all the songs and stories of the album.
£1 from every album will be donated to WaterAid.
I feel immensely honoured to be part of this amazing event which will feature a screening of the film, Q&A with Leon Stuparich & Thupten Samdup, HH The Dalai Lama’s representative, music from Tim Wheater, Joshua James Field plus chanting from Lama Lobsang and the monks of Kagyu Samye Dzong.
* * Other Events * *
Sanctuary of Sound- Fortnightly Sound Bath - April 7th & 21st
Finding stillness through sound - A Special Sound Immersion Experience
Immerse yourself in chant, song and mantra from global traditions and float away on the soothing sound waves of gongs, singing bowls, flute and tampuri.
The Little Escape 4 Paxton Mews, Off Westow Street, SE19 3RW. 5.45-7.15pm, £15
Juicy Spring Day Retreat with Beverley Drumm - April 14th
* 10am-1pm - Kundalini Yoga * 2-3pm - Sound Bath with Katie Rose
* 3.15-5.15pm - DanceIn2U Workshop
* Early Bird / Full Rate Whole Day: £50/£65 * Kundalini Yoga Workshop only: £30/£35
* Sound Bath: £8/£10 * DanceIn2U: £15/£20
The Factory, 407 Hornsey Road, N19 4DX
Women Walk on Water
@The Islington, 1 Tolpuddle Street, N1 - 7pm, 15th April, By Donation
Performances from a collective of Women Songwriters - Annalouise Oakland, Cam Ringel, Jessica Burnett, Bex Marshall, Kath Best, Nia Ninn & myself.
Garden of Roses - Light Petals - April 23rd
Inspiral Lounge 250 Camden High Street, London. NW1 8QS - 7.30-10.30pm, Donations
Forest Hill Singing Group
Super easy super chilled chanting, singing & voice stretching.
Next sessions: April 24th & May 29th, 7.30-9.30pm, £15, SE23
If you’d like to journey to the next frontier of self expression or take a sonic trip in a special one to one Love Your Voice/Sound Therapy Session, please contact me.
Wishing you a beautiful, bountiful Easter
Women and Water -
Flowing Together to Create Change
“One stick will break soon. But five sticks combined can’t be broken easily. Therefore bound together as a group, we can do similar work. Nobody can break us.”
Kuntala Behra - member of a women’s self-empowerment group set up in the slums of India, WaterAid video Women: Agents of Change
'Water, water everywhere, only if we share - Megha Kumar, India - World Water Day Slogan for 2013
As I approach World Water Day and the launch of my new album, after a powerful week of celebrating Women with International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, I’m continually reminded that no matter how big and overwhelming issues are on a personal and global scale, small daily actions and collaborative ventures can make a big difference.
On International Women’s Day I had the honour of performing, ‘Raise Your Voice for Change’ with Dawn Ellis and Tom Morley of Instant Teamwork at the top of a very misty City Hall. Their song was written originally for UN Women and will be part of a special UN Women’s walk on Saturday 16th March and no doubt many future events. I was so grateful that I had a space to raise my voice and make a contribution with like-minded singers - it was so uplifting and empowering. For me, the experience of action in collaboration is absolutely magical and inspires me to carry on.
My new album, Empty Cup contains the songs of many women - a woman shot accidentally by her lover who returns as a ghost to forgive him, a woman who escapes from abduction using the power of her song, a woman left behind when her man is taken to war, a woman who saves her lover from death, a woman who holds to the truth of her love to the death in the face of slander, a seal-woman who returns to the sea, and Oshun, Goddess of Water Within the vulnerability of their stories, there is an Oceanic Female Spirit which carries them through their trials and is truly wonderful to behold. Their enchanting songs have captivated, inspired and encouraged me as they touch on the stories and themes of my own life.
The courage of the women in these songs is the same courage of the women whose lives are daily impacted by lack of clean water - those who damage their bodies, miss out on education and risk assault carrying water for miles for their family, those who are forced to give dirty water to their children knowing it may kill them, those who are raped when trying to find a safe place to use as a toliet, those who face illness and deformity from water-bourne diseases, those who are married off underage because their families are too thirsty to take care of them. Their cup is empty. But their stories are not going unheard.
WaterAid is working with women in the world’s poorest communities to empower them to take those daily small actions that build taps, pumps, toliets and new hygiene practices. Women are forming self empowerment groups and are courageously setting out to educate their children, spouses, neighbours and communities, demonstrating that lives can be saved when water is used mindfully. They are showing that the power of collaboration changes lives and in doing so they are becoming empowered, confident decision-makers in their communities. They are being acknowledged by governments as having a key role to play in the future of their countries.
Currently the shocking statistics are that 1 in 3 women will be raped or assaulted and that violence causes more death and disability for women than war, cancer, malaria or traffic accidents. Women earn 10% of the world's income for doing two-thirds of the world's work, own under 3% of the world's wealth and form only 17% of the world’s governments. Two-thirds of the 780 million illiterate people in the world are women and 19 girls a minute will be forced into underage marriage. Despite these epic challenges, women everywhere are joining together to sing their song and share their stories - whether it’s the No More Page 3 campaign in the UK, the campaigns to change the law in India after the recent gang rape of a young woman on a bus, the success of Grace Amy-Obeng fighting skin bleaching in Africa or the women working with WaterAid to bring clean water to their communities - women are joining to change the world from the inside out. Their collaborative spirit, which flows in, out and around struggle, demonstrates the magic that becomes possible when we join together with a shared intent.
Please join with me to help fill the Empty Cup on March 21st. It costs only £15 to give one person access to clean water for life, so every penny helps. You can join the party either in person at Inspiral Lounge from 8-10pm and/or by making a donation to WaterAid on my JustGiving Page.
Here is a video invitation to the event, donated generously by Simon Paul Sutton of Conscious Media.
Wishing you the wonderful flow of collaborative, magical, life changing action
* All at Sea - Voyages of Voice *
I must confess to having been in the creative space of being ‘all at sea’ for much of February, which has once again allowed me to realise that it is the sound current- the deep unending wave of primal sound, pulsing at the very core of existence - which floats my boat.
I’ve appreciated more profoundly the healing effect of uplifting dialogue with dear friends - not just the words that are exchanged but the emanation of beloved voices beaming beautifically to me over the telephone/ Skype/ virtual airwaves.
This amazing voice of the deep, which resides within all of us, encourages me to keep rowing and making my way across the wide, wide water.
I am honoured to hold space of deep listening for the deeper voice in individual sessions and it’s truly amazing to witness the breakthroughs that emerge from simply allowing it to be heard.
March finds me washing up on a new musical shore, with a new album to
share with you all and invite you to collaborate with me in sharing a
vision of filling the Empty Cup for those who are thirsty by joining me at the Launch Party at InSpiral on 21st March and donating to WaterAid.
wonderful wave of poetry has also arisen in my life recently, and I am
delighted to be part of the premiere performance of Fathieh Saudi’s
poems Prophetic Children on March 1st at St Ethelburgas.
I’d also like to give you a special advance invite to an amazing event on 5th April - the DVD Launch of the film Road to Peace, in support of the Dalai Lama’s message of peace and the cause of the Tibetan people.
I am honoured to be singing alongside Tim Wheater and the monks of
Kagyu Samye Dzong. You can enter a competition to win tickets on the Road to Peace Facebook Event Page.
Equinox weekend marks the birthing of a new sound group at The Little Escape in
Crystal Palace - I’ll be offering an introductory taster session as
part of their First Birthday Celebration Weekend on 24th March.
The Garden of Roses is springing up with wonderful new musical flowers - following a truly love soaked evening of sound and silence with Illumina, Andy Cooney and Simon Sutton’s presentation of Global Love Letters - I look forward to welcoming glorious Goddess Esther Austin and Apollo’s Mob on March 26th at InSpiral.
Do let me know how your own Voyage of Voice is proceeding.
Wishing you the transformation of worry into wonder as you surf the waves.
Looking forward to seeing and hearing you!
PS - I have a New Facebook Page
- please pop over for a cup of virtual tea, Listen & Like! :)
- please pop over for a cup of virtual tea, Listen & Like! :)
I'm all at sea
Where no-one can bother me
Forgot my roots
If only for a day
Just me and my thoughts sailing far away
- Jamie Callum - All At Sea
Where no-one can bother me
Forgot my roots
If only for a day
Just me and my thoughts sailing far away
- Jamie Callum - All At Sea
For Full Listings of Sound Happenings across London please
Inviting you to the launch of my new album, empty cup, with thanks for being a friend in song and sound.
This album represents both a new direction and a coming home to my own musical roots in traditional folk songs. I feel sure that these powerful songs helped my ancestors make sense of the sorrows and joys of life. Rarely comfortable, yet strangely comforting, their haunting melodies have captivated me since childhood. Listening to their ghostly whispers has enhanced my own understanding of love, loss, death and transformation. Bringing them into my urban London life has been a wonderful experiment which has demonstrated just how relevant their messages still are. Being a musical magpie, I’ve added an assortment of poetry, Shakespearean verse, chants, mantras, electroblips and soundbits to the mix.
Here’s a preview of the opening track, Molly Bawn - a powerful tale of love, loss and forgiveness.
As some of the songs are inspired by water and my experiences of working with Sing for Water, I am releasing the album in celebration of World Water Day and the proceeds from the door fee (£5) will be given to WaterAid.
It costs only £15 to give one person access to clean water for life in the world’s poorest communities, so by joining the Launch Party - either in person or virtually - you will be making a difference to our global family.
You can book your place in advance/ join the Virtual Party by making a donation of £5 or more on my JustGiving Page - all payments go direct to WaterAid.
** Plus - EXTRA BONUS - Any Donations of £15 or more will receive a free copy of Shiva’s Rain ** As recently reviewed in this month’s Prediction Magazine:
Her vocal chords, which spiral around sacred mantras that she’s plucked from all corners of the East, could charm the most petulant of snakes. - Gemma Birss
I look forward to welcoming you at InSpiral Lounge at 8pm on March 21st - RSVP.
With love and gratitude
Album Launch Party
Thursday 21st March, 8-10pm
£5 cover charge to WaterAid in celebration of World Water Day.
Book your place in advance/ join the Virtual Party by making a donation of £5 or more on my JustGiving Page - all payments go direct to WaterAid.
Other Forthcoming Events
Love Configuration - A Golden Heart Event
Saturday 23rd February, 10.30-5.30pm
A Creative Day for Playful Loving Spirits Featuring
Sound Adventures with Katie Rose
Moving Energy with Sally Francis
Thames Ditton, £60/ £50
The Garden of Roses - Heart Healing
An evening of love soaked sounds
Featuring Andy Cooney, Illumina & Global Love Letters
Forest Hill Singing Group
Super Easy Singing
Feb 27th, 7.30-9.30pm, £15
** Rose Sounds - February Frolics & Sneak Preview of New Album **
I find myself once again catapulting over the edge of my own cosmic magic carpet this February, having decided to launch my new album Empty Cup on 21st March at a special event at InSpiral to raise funds WaterAid in celebration of World Water Day.
Here’s a Sneak Preview of the first track, Molly Bawn, a powerful traditional song that for me is still so relevant today with its warning about guns and it's message of redemption and forgiveness.
It’s a glorious thing, pushing a personal edge and stretching into the next risk zone, for where else do we grow? So if you, like me are a little bit jittered by all the tasks up ahead involved in manifesting your dreams, let’s celebrate and love all that comes along with the ride, from the sublime to the ridiculous, for come it will!
I’m also enjoying stretching my offerings around voice and song and sharing newly designed workshops and writing a vocal e-course. Much of the material is based on 13 years of witnessing others grow and transform in 121 sessions and the wonderful, whacky ride of song that my own life is. If you have a question or story about voice voyaging that you’d like to share or explore, please do be in touch.
Thank you to those of you who joined the song in snowy January - I’m looking forward to meeting and singing with all you February songbirds.
Wishing you a truly Fabulous February
January Blog - 5 Steps to a More Songful You in 2013
So this New Year, I’ve decided to create some new resources to empower singers. I’m really excited about sharing the richness that singing has given me and what I’ve learned from witnessing transformation in others. I’m putting together an e-course and do invite you to the first workshop of the year Sing From Within. Please do read this month’s blog - I’d love to hear your comments!
1. Creating a Sanctuary of Song
There is no doubt that any creative adventure requires stepping over the edge and moving beyond our comfort zone. For many people, including some of the world’s top performers, the thought of singing or speaking in public induces chills, hot flushes and blushes, tummy turn-overs, palpitations, negative self-talk or outright terror. I can happily say that I’ve experienced all this and more and survived.
The over-the-edge feeling that arises in the moment of performance is inevitable and the wonderful thing about it is, of course, how absolutely exhilarating it is. This is because we are, in that moment, fully present to everything that is happening in a heightened way. Spontaneity is so precious - hence why we both fear and crave it - and whilst we cannot ever predict it, we can prepare for it by creating a feeling of support and safety around our creativity which acts as a springboard into spontaneity.
Everyone has different needs and their own ways of taking support which can include:
- Meditation - singing is ultimately, for me, a form of meditation - which is something that brings us into connection with the spontaneous, creative essence of ourselves and life itself. When we meditate regularly, performance becomes less terrifying because we build a foundation of positive, nourishing experiences which we can tap into in the moment of performance. A meditation practice need not be attached to a belief-system - it is simply something that helps you feel present - eg - walking in nature, writing, drawing, sitting silently, breathwork, martial arts, yoga etc. The important thing is to find something that works for you.
- Practice - this often has old associations of school teachers saying ‘practice makes perfect’ etc. In truth Practice makes Process. Practice means spending time with your voice, getting to know it and finding out what helps it to be expressed fully. This is a daily process because our voice is an expression of us and we are different everyday.
- Supportive People & Places - this can be a singing teacher, chanting group, choir, mentor, creative friend, course, workshop - the fundamental thing is that these are places of safety and respect where any feedback you receive will be constructive and supportive of your growth.
2. Befriending our Fear and our Inner Audience
To sing is to share our soul (a.k.a. most innermost self), so there is nothing wrong with feeling vulnerable or scared about it. Actually if you’re feeling afraid, it’s a great sign that you’re growing. So make friends with your fear, don’t deny, suppress or make it wrong. It is often our fear of fear that causes inhibition, not fear itself. Like every emotion, fear dissipates most quickly when we let it pass, so sing through, with and out of your fear.
Our fears are mostly based in internalised belief systems and inner chit-chat from our Inner Audience. You may be surprised to find out just how many people are sat in your Inner Auditorium carping away ad nauseum - that old music teacher who told you to mime at school will be there, along with with well-meaning family members who tried to protect you from taking risks and gossipy, jealous friends who mocked your dreams. The best way to deal with these voices is to acknowledge and embrace them as distorted mirrors of your own greatness and as messengers from your subconscious. We all have everything within us, from the sublime to the ridiculous and the more willing we are to accept everything in ourselves, the more able we are to accept it in others and to feel less flummoxed when our inner or outer critics start mud-slinging. It may not stop it hurting sometimes, but it is a truly empowered perspective to say - “Thank you for mirroring to me my fear that I can’t do it. I’m going to do it anyway.” After time spent cultivating this kind of dialogue, the old Inner Audience get less boisterous and lose their power, meaning that you can repopulate your Inner Auditorium with a crowd of flower-throwing, loving supporters.
3. Finding Your Super Singing Self
To sing is to express our highest potential and expression, so as we befriend our Inner Audience, we can align ourselves with our most magnificently creative, sublime, expansive aspects. This is not the same as developing a massive ego and throwing a hissy fit when someone dares to tread on your designer coat tails. Quite the contrary, it is actually a process of complete humility of surrendering yourself to the most loving forces within you and, indeed, the entire Universe. Now that’s not to say you can’t have a range of fabulous outfits, because the more you honour the magnificent being that you are and the force of sublime creativity that you are aligned to, the more you will raise your game and radiate beauty in every aspect of your life, including your wardrobe.
A great way to discover your highest qualities is to take a look at who inspires you - your Muses - for their qualities are a mirror of your own inner treasures. So go find your Inner and Outer Super Wo/Men and humbly claim your own true greatness and your unique creative mission here on Earth.
4. Honing Your Skills and Expanding Your Vision
Whilst it’s all very good prancing around in those fabulous outfits with a hairbrush in your bedroom, there comes a time when it needs to be shared with the world. Here’s where you get to be really creative and start setting intentions and taking consistent actions.
Find out what adventures your Super Singing Self wants to have in this world and go about having them - so you want to sing at that open mic down the road? - go along and get to know people there, polish up your songs and get your show on the road. Maybe you want to lead your class of urban kids in kick-ass nursery raps - find a workshop for facilitators and teachers who want to use more singing in their work. It’s the small steps that build greatness. Every action you take, even if it’s simply 5 minutes of dedicated all-out singing in the shower every morning, contributes to your growth.
5. Devotion and Surrender
For me the ultimate bliss of singing is the ecstatic experience of being sung. It’s an experience of surrender to devotion which sublimely spontaneous. It cannot be forced, contrived, induced or bartered into being. It has to be made welcome like a beloved.
So, yes, I’ve done all sorts of weird and wonderful practices, delirious dancing, mind-blowing meditations, bendy body things etc and it’s all doubtless enriched me and brought a kaleidoscope of colour and a host of wonderful friends into my life. Ultimately, it’s not about finding a path or a tribe to belong to, because we are all already on our way and we all belong to each other, whether we like it or not. What it’s really about is becoming aware that we are each amazing, unique instruments and that if we want the transformational current of song to pass through us, we need to make space and be ready for it to happen. We need to tune our antennae to the frequency of UniversalSong FM. So I practice like crazy, so I can completely let go in the moment. I tune the strings of my heart daily, so that love can come and sing through me.
If 2013 is the year when you’d like to amplify your singing journey, please do join me at:
Heaven on Earth Gathering - Shake Out the Old, Embrace the New - Jan 26th
Sing From Within - Jan 27th
The Garden of Roses - Tones of Transformation - with Michael Ormiston, Candida Valentino & Raphael Radoux-Rogier - Jan 29th - FREE! :)
Love Your Voice Vocal Coaching Sessions
I look forward to seeing and singing with you!
Much Love and Blessings for a Songful You in 2013
Rose Sounds - 2013.. the new frontier...
Here we are looking at the blank canvas of the emerging New Year - what do you wish to paint, sculpt, draw, sing or simply be there? What does voyaging into the unknown bring up for you - exhilaration, adventure, creativity, butterflies, daring-do? What holds and supports you in the quick of life’s uncertainty and enables you to expand rather than contract from the preciousness of each moment?
For me as I reflect on the transformational year of 2012, I’m so grateful for the support and love I experience in my life and am aware that I still have new frontiers to soften so I can yield and surrender to the flow, to the dance, to the song, to the invitation to live mind, body heart and soundfully. From softness is born the strength of a lion’s heart, from delicacy comes the deliciousness of life, from subtlety the ability to savour all the flavours on offer in every moment.
Whatever you intend or resolve upon for 2013, may there be space for the spontaneity of joyful surprises and the delight of discovering new frontiers of freedom.
Looking forward to hearing, seeing and singing with you in 2013!
New Adventures for January
"You guided me to my heart in an explosive journey and I'm forever grateful. I will never let myself down........ I feel secure within myself yet so vulnerable. Thank you!!! ♥♥♥ Jyoti X"
If you’d like to journey to the next frontier of self expression or take a sonic trip in a special one to one Love Your Voice/Sound Therapy Session, please contact me.
Conscious connections meets kickass clubbing!
Enjoy the vibrant songfulness of angel-voiced Katie Rose, followed by global sounds and groovy beats from the awesome Caz Coronel. The event takes places in an intimate and beautiful private residence, complete with enchanted Oriental garden! Delicious food from Bite Entertainment will be available throughout the evening. Plus connection and games, massage and healing sessions, and a few surprises along the way!!!
Saturday 26th January, 7.00-11.00pm, £12 early bird by 12 Jan, £17 thereafter.
The Garden of Roses - Tones of Transformation
An evening of Auspicious Sounds with Katie Rose & Friends featuring
* Michael Ormiston & Candida Valentino - present magical music from their new album Eight Auspicious Symbols - featuring the mesmerising sounds of Mongolian Khöömii Singing and truly extraordinary sacred instruments.
* Raphael Radoux-Rogier - creative & versatile fiddle player, singer & composer who combines his classical training with his love of traditional music to create unique playful & colourful soundscapes.
Inspiral Lounge, Tuesday 29th January, 7.30pm - 10.30pm, Free!
Monthly Singing Group in Forest Hill
Would you like to discover your voice in a very nurturing and playful space?
Super easy super chilled chanting, singing & voice stretching.
Next session: Jan 30th, 7.30-9.30pm, £15, SE23
Please contact me for more details
At The Big Om with Barefoot Doctor and Tim Wheater
Dear Beautiful Being,
Wishing you a Wondrously Songful SoulStice
& Merry Midwinter Season!
Thank you for all the wonderful creativity, love, joy and beauty you share in the world.
Thank you for being a sparkly, songful presence in my world this year.
Here's a little musical pudding for the last dances of 2012.
Wishing you safe passage into the new realms of 2013.
With love and gratitude
Super Sonic Solstice Events
I'd be super delighted to sing with you over the festive season - do join me at:
* 19th December - Forest Hill Singing Group - super easy joyful singing
* 20th December- Interactive Solstice Concert at Naked Dragon
* 21st December - 21.12.12 - Sunrise-Sunset Solstice Celebration
* 31st December - New Years Eve 5Rhythms Party - Tim Broughton, Alive! & Nikki Slade
* Love Your Voice - 121 Holistic Vocal Coaching- TLC for your wonderful voice.
Rose Sounds - Diving into Divine December
So here it comes - the greatly anticipated Solstice of 2012 - to which I am not going to add any further interpretation - but simply ask: where am I in the wave?
The powerful energy surges of astrological line-ups, divine downloads, festive frenzy, Christmas commercialism, family dynamics, can create a feeling that we are all at sea.
Personally, I am waving, not drowning - to reverse Stevie Smith’s poem - in the deep currents of these times, even though I too have felt ‘much too far out all my life’.
It feels as if this is truly is the time to let go of the fear of being ‘too far out’ and to dive, jump, dance, sing, trust and surrender full-heartedly to wherever we are in the wave - peaking, troughing, ebbing, flowing, splashing, capsizing and all! :)
For, as a lifeguard will tell you, if you surrender to the current,
it will bring you back to shore.
There is a vast array of Sonic Specials for Sound Surfers on offer this month.
For Stylish Singers seeking respite from seasonal madness I am offering 3 special Singers Salons on Saturday afternoons here in Crystal Palace - please do contact me for details.
Thanks to Liam Smith, Kate Mckenzie and all the fizzy flowers who joined us for the firework special, do join us at the Garden of Roses Christmas Tree Party at InSpiral on 4.12.12 supporting The Green Light Foundation’s amazing work in the Amazon.
The Sonic SoulSisters (Anne Malone and I:)) are also offering a special Sonic SoulStice Celebration at Buddha on a Bicycle on 15.12.12 - for all deep sea sound divers.
I am also honoured to be offering a special Interactive Solstice Concert at Naked Dragon - on 17.12.12. There is a special Naked Dragon raffle in aid of The Dystonia Society & Macmillan where you can win two free tickets plus lots of other goodies.
On 19.12.12 I will be having a local Christmas sing with the Forest Hill Singing Group.
And... the peak of the wave...
For Solstice I will join an array of wonderful soundsters at the 21.12.12 Sunset-Sunrise Celebration
On the other side... I will singing my way into 2013 with the wonderful Tim Broughton and Alive! Musicians at the New Years 5 Rhythms at Kew.
Wherever you are in the wave, I wish you courage, strength, joy, love and much fun fluffy seafroth this Solstice and Festive Season.
I look forward to singing and soundsurfing with you
"Sail Forth - Steer for the deep waters only. Reckless O soul, exploring. I with thee and thou with me. For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared go. And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all." - Walt Whitman
Rest and Vulnerability - The Song of Stillness
My recent learning has taken me by surprise - which is not really surprising, because to learn is to be willing to be constantly surprised- but something crept up on me that I was not aware of and it was to do with resting and, by extension, vulnerability.
Being firmly instructed to rest by a fiercely compassionate acupuncturist has proved to highlight that Western culture is wired up to burn out, and so, unless I am mindful, am I. Even though I checked out of the conventional crash-and-burn corporate lifestyle, I realise I have nonetheless been driving myself along without a full understanding of the importance of rest. So I have started dismantling the engine that powers my tendency to over-work and what I am discovering is that it is the willingness to be vulnerable that is key to allowing rest.
After listening to Brene Brown’s TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability, whilst on air with Energy Brown on Inspired Talk, Radio Verulam, I have been reminded that vulnerability is the key to creative expression and fulfilling relating, as it allows us to drop all masks, pretences or shields and let the full spectrum of our humanity - with all its imperfections - to be seen. To be open to any transformative, loving or creative process requires being willing to be vulnerable and to enter and surrender to the still, restful, receptive place. In this space we can more fully receive the inspiration, love and abundance of life.
So what prevents us from being more open and vulnerable? Ultimately fear and shame.
It is our fears, and ultimately the fear of death, that keep many of us running around at break-neck pace. Deep within there is a fear of being obliterated by the stillness of rest, the stillness of death. Yet, as the powerful celebration by the 5 Rhythms community of dear, beautiful Gabrielle Roth’s recent death demonstrated, Stillness can be understood and embraced simply as a natural, deep and rich rhythm in life.
Shame is the fear that we are not enough - that at core we are inadequate and that we cannot be seen for our real selves - which may lead us to attempt to fill up the ‘not-enough’ place with externals - “I feel not enough unless my diary is full, unless I have 5 billion friends on Facebook, unless I have the latest iPhone, unless I am constantly earning and achieving, unless I have saved the world and helped all my sick friends and gone shopping and cleaned the house this afternoon...” which basically boils down to “I am not enough unless I am a good girl/boy according to whatever belief system I am judging myself/being judged by.”
Shame arises from competition and comparison - we tell ourselves or have been told we are not good enough according to a measuring stick. Take the measuring stick away and there is no shame - which means to say “I Measure Up As I Am” - ie - “I am inherently good and my inherent goodness cannot be measured, commodified or pressurised into conformity to any systems or structure - and that all these cultural tape-measures, grading systems and numbering processes are only helpful to me for very practical things like buying apples.”
One reason we buy into the measuring stick game is because it gives us a sense of self and way of simplifying reality into what is good or bad. So there can be fear when we consider letting go of the measuring sticks that we might suddenly become amoral or monstrous in our behaviour. I hear clients with cancer talk about the difficulty of saying No to friends and family whilst having treatment, because they feel guilty. Yet actually when we slow down and listen for the truth of who we really are and what we really need, we naturally begin to act with more integrity - which means ‘wholeness’ - acting in alignment with the truth of all levels of our being - which in turn makes us more truthful with others.
Vulnerability has its roots in the word ‘wound’ and shame is often a covering we develop to cover our wounds. It is however, only a sticking plaster. Our wounds often contain the seeds of our brilliance and when we allow another trusted soul to witness us at the core place - where it hurts, where it matters, where it’s scaldingly painful and searingly ecstatic at the same time - there and then magic happens. For just the process of allowing it to be seen is transformational. The witness takes on the role of the wizard - the reflection of our own wisdom - and whizz! - the wound becomes a site of learning, creativity, insight, development.
In rest and in meditation, we become our own witness. We are able to embrace the wounded child or battered lover inside that is bleeding and heartbroken and to say “yes I see you, I am coming for you. I will no longer leave you here alone, I will gather you up in my arms and hold you while the tears flow, I will sing to you, I will bathe you, I will take care of you. Tell me what you need.”
Rest allows us to become creative - in stillness ideas, insights and daydreams emerge. Some will evolve into breakthroughs if given space, for vision is just the empowered bigger sister of daydreaming. Others may need to be discarded or upgraded - for rest gives us the resources to be brave and let go. I may discover that the project/ job/ relationship I once cherished has now fulfilled its purpose and can be lovingly released. Rest allows me to step away from that which no longer fits and to find my own inner fit with myself.
As we dive in our own deep waters, we become aware of archetypal swells within collective tides. As Jeff Foster discusses in his description of Depression as an invitation to Deep Rest - we become able to put aside the exhausting false story of our life and to become aware that we are in truth a home for the waves of the ocean of existence.
Originally the root of the word rest comes from Proto Germanic ‘rasto’ - meaning ‘a measure of miles’ - so rest is actually not a diversion from the journey but an integral part of it. The rest we take is moving us forward. In the stillness we are dancing. In the silence we are singing.
If you are seeking respite and a creative space amidst the seasonal madness please do join me at the following events:
* Singers Salon- 1st, 8th, 15th December - flap free singing in Crystal Palace - 2-4pm
* Forest Hill Singing Group - Nov 21st & Dec 19th, 7.30-9.30pm
* Garden of Roses Christmas Tree Party - Dec 6th, InSpiral Lounge
* The Big Om - 12.12.12 - Zu Studios, Lewes - tickets going fast!
* Sonic SoulStice Celebration, Buddha on a Bicycle - 7-9pm
* Naked Dragon Interactive Solstice Concert, 7.30-10.30pm, Chertsey
All info available on my Events Page
Rose Sounds - November Sparkles - Go With Your Glow!
here come the dark days with the challenge to maintain an inner glow
when the nights draw in. Our presence is what glows, even we feel cloudy
or foggy headed,
there is still a place of inner shine.
The process of staying connected to our inner sparkle sometimes involves shedding a few skins/ letting go of life luggage so we can dance more freely. Sometimes it involves acknowledging and nurturing our treasures, talents and gifts so that they can really shine. Sometimes it involves taking a long luxuriating soulsoak in a song, book, poem, artwork, walk, landscape, meditation or other connection practice.
*** Wherever you glow, there go! ***
I’d love to sparkle with you this month - here’s the latest sonic offerings:
There will be plenty of sparkle at The Barefoot Doctor’s Little Om on November 11th - a special day of Love and Art to celebrate peace - a prelude to the Little Big Om on 12.12.12 - a smaller version of the Wembley event which will happen next year.
Thanks to Amy & Paolo and Buddenath for filling InSpiral full of heartfelt chants - there will be a wonderful fizzy fireworks song session in the Garden of Roses this month with myself and Liam Smith.
I had a wonderful Halloween sing with my fabulous Forest Hill Singing Group - if you’re looking for a super safe space to come and sing playfully do come along.
Following a wonderful adventure in Austria, celebrating the 7th Anniversary of Best of Spirits, I am now launching a special service for clients near and far.
Personally tailored Holistic Coaching/Tarot sessions to support you to love and transform your life. So if you’re feeling ready to take your sparkle to a new level, please be in touch!
I look forward to singing and sparkling with you very soon!
Voicing the Boob
As a woman, I have been turned off mainstream media for a very long time but three recent stories have engaged my attention. The first is the No More Page 3 Campaign launched by Lucy Ann Holmes, which has received much support across the media and now has 44K signatures, the second is the photographing of Kate Middleton on holiday and the third is the Lady Gaga’s stand against media snickering about her weight gain. At the centre of these stories is the female form, particularly the boob which has been objectified, airbrushed, mutilated, implanted, scrutunised and salivated over ad infinitum by the media - no change there - but what’s new is that the form is speaking out - the Boob has a voice!
Since cave dwellers started drawing on walls, people have always want to make images of their bodies. The wonderful vehicles that carry us through life are indeed often fascinating, beautiful, juicy, delicious things to behold - and are as such absolutely deserving of artistry and admiration. They are also universal - everyone, regardless of shape or size, has got one - which also makes them pretty ordinary, everyday and unexciting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the beauty of the human form in images, there’s also nothing new about it.
Yes, boobs are beautiful and powerful, but are they news? No, to be honest we’ve all been suckling on them since way back when. And yet, in our infantile tabloids, catching sneaky peeks at boobs is the source of immense titillation. Millions of women sunbathe topless, yet because she’s a royal, Kate Middleton’s knockers are in another realm of excitement according to the handful of wealthy men who run the media. Photos of Kate’s very ordinary activity sold for very extraordinary amounts of cash and was distributed for all to see.
What is the difference between female and male nudity? Prince Harry was just caught with his pants down, but generally we don’t see shots of David Beckham and the England Team running around without their shorts on. It’s illegal to display an erect phallus. There are two reasons for this within a hetero-normative patriarchy - homophobia and misogyny. Mainstream media directs male attention towards the female as object and away from owning his naked reflection and his relationship with other men. It conditions women to seek out and acquiesce to male attention in order to be perceived as beautiful, desirable, bedable and wedable.
The photographed nude female is silent - ‘our girls’ as the Sun calls them do not have a voice. They are all obliging smiles and frilly knickers. Kate Middleton will continue her silent smiling royal duties, her views expressed via the collective royal PR machine which announces that the couple are ‘saddened’ by the shots. I’d love to hear the real, uncensored version of her feelings about having her privacy continuously invaded by penis extension camera lenses. The desirable and desired woman is conditioned into silence in order to preserve her position within patriarchy. She is placed in competition with other women for male attention under the roving eye of the camera lens - who is wearing the best designer dress on the red carpet? who lost the most weight on her latest crash course diet? who has secret cellulite on her thighs? who has just been jilted by her high profile lover for a younger woman? and of course - who has the best boobs? The woman who speaks out and expresses angry feelings or protests against this treatment is quickly diminished and belittled - Clare Short was portrayed as an ugly crone, jealous of the Page 3 Babes when she criticised the Sun.
With the current prevalence of Breast Cancer, it feels urgent for women to ‘get off their chest’ that which social niceties forbids them to say. It is urgent for women to reclaim the voice of the boob - the voice of their heart centre. It is urgent for women to release the codependent role of carers which patriarchy has doled out to them, whilst still remaining connected to the immense power of their love. It is urgent that women are seen not as walking boobs - the sucklers of humanity, feeding male desire - but honoured for the complex, whole beings that they are. It is urgent that women heal their conditioned insecurity about their bodies and start nourishing themselves more fully. It is urgent that women reclaim the power of menopause and embrace rather than botox the aging process. It is urgent that women reclaim themselves from conditioned responses to change, save, imitate or seek attention from men and follow their hearts. And it is urgent that we follow the example of Lady Gaga and speak out for a more healthy, balanced portrayal of women and the female form in the media.
As any nutritionist will affirm, if you feed people junk they will become accustomed to it and grow to crave it, even if it makes them sick and will have withdrawal symptoms when it is taken away. The media has been pumping junk sex at men for way too long. I personally do not believe that Page 3 exists because ‘that’s what men want’. Some do, maybe, others not - the responses to the petition reveal that many men feel uncomfortable with Page 3. It cannot be healthy for heterosexual men to have their arousal chain yanked vicariously by the media in order to persuade them to buy a tacky newspaper full of tittle-tattle and numerous other useless commodities. Offering a man a quick wank over a Page 3 girl is no substitute for real intimacy and relating. But its quick, convenient and the woman isn’t real. She’s plastic, compliant and always smiles and the sex is way less complex than real life.
It really is time to turn the camera lens round to focus on the people driving the tabloids for truly they are the ones with the pants down, publicly exposing their fetishes for crotch and boob shots while many of us wince at the tackiness of it all. For too long the camera and the media have been given a ridiculous amount of power and have reflected back to us only the most dysfunctional aspects of social behaviour - yes misogyny still exists, but many of us have actually grown out of it.
Lucy Ann Holmes is giving a voice to silenced women and men. For me the outcome of her campaign is not as important as the voices that are being raised, the questions that are being asked, the debate that has started. That this voice is complex and non-uniform is to be welcomed. Some women say they don’t care, some women say they do, some men say Page 3 is a homage to the boob, others say it’s out of date and gives the wrong message to their daughters. What’s great is that instead of silently acquiescing in what is presented to them, people are questioning and debating. The Boob has a Voice and She is Speaking Out.
Don’t Sweat the Heavy Stuff
What happens when we have a ‘big cause’ and want to tell people about it without frightening or emotionally downloading on them? How do we gracefully invite others into social activism/ charity work/ social causes?
Many of us want to make a difference and to draw attention to important social issues and causes. There are many urgent and potentially catastrophic issues facing us as a species which need to be seen, heard and acted upon. How do we communicate about these in a graceful, enlightening way which can be received by people and which is not overwhelming?
Lynn Serafinn has outlined an amazing way of creating graceful, ethical business practice in her book The 7 Graces of Marketing. Following our conversation about these questions, she asked me to write this blog.
I have been incredibly inspired by the work of WaterAid and particularly by the project founded by composer Helen Chadwick, Sing for Water, which I want to describe as an incredible successful model of graceful contribution. Helen initiated Sing for Water at the Mayor’s Thames Festival eleven years ago. Every year a choir of 800 singers gather together to sing songs about water and raise funds for WaterAid. The event is a high energy experience for everyone involved and draws choirs from across the UK and beyond. Helen describes it as having a magic formula - people have a wonderful experience doing what they love, whilst making a difference in the world. Their friends, families and communities are touched and engaged by sponsoring the singers. It is a cause whose serious intent is communicated gracefully, creatively, passionately by people who love singing. The contagious enthusiasm generated by the Thames Festival event has lead many other Sing for Water events - including Sing & Swim ! - across the UK and Europe. In the last ten years this project has raised over half a million pounds for WaterAid - this year funds will go to life-saving projects in Ghana.
The facts about water are grim for those in some parts of the world. Water scarcity and pollution causes more deaths than any other cause and has a vast array of devastating effects in deprived communities. 1 child dies every second from water related issues. Many girls and women walk miles every day to collect and carry heavy containers of water for their family risking rape, attack and damage to their bodies whilst missing out on school and other vital community activities. Lack of adequate sanitation also creates massive issues as communities unwittingly pollute their own precious water sources. WaterAid are active in these communities, working alongside local people to help them build facilities that give them access to clean water (taps, wells etc) and create safe hygiene practices.
Encountering some of these facts brings me to tears and I was so inspired by Sing for Water, touching as it did on my own commitment to raising awareness about water issues, that I ran a concert this year in London featuring 180 singers which raised over £3,300. I learned so much - mainly about how to ask gracefully - ask for support, donations, resources, performers, venues, ideas, contributions, publicity. Sometimes of course I made mistakes - but I’ve learned that if you ask one way and it does not work, another question will open another door. What works is passionate, unswerving commitment to the cause. What also works is friendliness, fun, playfulness, laughter, creativity and beauty.
We need not be afraid to apply lighter ways of communicating about so called ‘heavy issues’. For example I created a song with some beautiful WaterAid images on YouTube - which was foremostly an audio-visual experience - offered like any other - to bring pleasure to the eyes and ears as well as conveying the key information about the event. WaterAid have also run incredibly fun and funky awareness raising campaigns such as wrapping up politicians in toliet roll, delivering 18,314 signed toliet rolls to Downing Street as part of the Make Poverty History and forming a toliet queue outside the G8 summit. Details of these and current campaigns can be found www.wateraid.org
This is why Sing for Water has captured so many people’s imagination - because it is ultimately aesthetically and sensorily pleasurable on many levels whilst also being socially committed. The power of singing with 800 people, whilst knowing it is having a ripple effect across the world is indescribable. This is just one example of how much creative power we have when we join in shared intent. We need not apologise for having fun while we do it!
Wishing you passionate and playful communications
Sept 6th 2012
Sing for Water takes place this weekend at the Mayor’s Thames Festival -
3pm, 9th September, The Scoop, open air amphitheatre outside City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London. SE1 2AA.
Further events take place throughout the year.
If you would like to thrown some cash in my virtual bucket and sponsor me as a singer at this event, please visit my Just Giving Page
I am offering any one who donates over £15 (the amount it costs to give one person access to clean water for life in Ghana) a complimentary copy of my album Shiva’s Rain
I was asked recently to write a blog on self-employment. Which, as I am about to explain is somewhat ironic, considering that my life has been more of a sort of somewhat mad and magic carpet ride, however as this person felt that I had something which might be of encouragement to others, I will do my best.
The word employment comes from the Old French emploier - ‘attach, entangle, make use of, appLy, devote’ which in turn derives from from the Latin implicare meaning to ‘enfold, connect to, involve, be part of.’ It was not until the 1590s that this gained the meaning ‘to hire, engage or make use of.’ So employment involves connecting and devoting our time to some aim, cause, activity, person or organisation. The awareness of which, means that for me, how and with whom I employ my time needs to be aligned with my own values and purpose in the world.
In this disconnected world, it is easy to be seduced into selling our time for organisations, causes, jobs etc which do not resonate with us. In Western so-called civilisations we are groomed to be employed and to follow a sensible career path - to get a ‘good education and a proper job’ which usually involves selling 35 hours a week plus overtime to an organisation which has profit making as one of its main objectives. We do this so we can ‘earn a living’ and have a good answer to the ‘what do you do’ question. Which is somewhat back to front because we are actually both living and being before any sort of earning or doing or getting busy with stuff kicks off.
Business, interestingly, comes from the Old Northumbrian word bisignes - meaning ‘care, anxiety, occupation’ - which goes someway to explaining why I have always instinctively felt uncomfortable with being considered a ‘business owner’. I have of course had to create business plans, deal with financial and tax institutions, most of which can be anxiety-inducing, so I continually endeavour to simplify and essentialise my goings-on and to make ethical choices - e.g. banking with the Co-Op etc.
An ‘entrepreneur’ was originally a french term for someone who ‘undertakes or manages’ and was often applied to theatre managers. My favourite example of entrepreneurship is what I witness on the streets in Istanbul, where when it rains, bread sellers suddenly within minutes become umbrella sellers. I absolutely love this theatrical opportunism. I cannot match it, for I am a far slower and inward creature whose creations are mostly homebrewed and quietly so, often with years of marination. I have, however, been managing events of various types since I started studying theatre at school, which has involved encouraging chaotic groups of artists to agree to some sort of structure that enabled them all to turn up at the right place at the right time wearing the right outfits with the right bells, bows and whistles. I think that this madness is probably a hangup derived from being the eldest child and so far it has probably cost me more than I’ve ever earned from it in commercial terms. It has however, given me enormous insight into human behaviour, enabled me to create experiences which were of benefit to my community, (eg co-ordinating a big fundraising concert for WaterAid this year) and taught me how to be incredibly resourceful with shoestrings and gaffa tape.
Which leads me on to the true meaning of richness. Richness for me is being able to offer something to the world which has value and makes a difference to me and other beings. Richness is also having time to be able to meditate, dance, hang out with my loved ones, make music, do some haphazard gardening, write, fall asleep whilst attempting to read a book about the science of water and spend time in nature. I realised many moons ago that I valued my time more than I valued paper and coins and that I was not prepared to sell my time to anyone other than those I felt an alignment of values and purpose with. Which ruled out pretty much most of the commercial world. So I began serving individuals and organisations who I resonated with instead.
For many years the majority of that service was devoted to those with ‘Special Needs’, which I consider to be a heritage or family dharma. My grandmother lost her hearing when she was a child and my grandfather was a hearing child of deaf parents who became a parson for the deaf. I grew up surrounded by people with different abilities and started volunteering in SEN schools in my teens and have worked in various support roles ever since, including my current role giving holistic therapy sessions to adults in residential care. I often feel that I am being healed by my interaction with incredible beings who experience more challenges every day than many of us might do in a lifetime and yet still smile. I know one lady who is always laughing. She cannot see or speak and her family abandoned her years ago, yet she laughs more than anyone else I know. In this strange world, where people pay to go on laughter workshops, I am paid to spend time with her. I am grateful for this anomaly.
Along my ‘career path’ there have been many experiences from the sublime to the ridiculous including giving onsite massage in posh offices, washing and massaging the mud off festival feet, interpreting aura photos, reading tarot cards at pissed up parties, giving mass sound baths, performing music at all sorts of weird and wonderful events and supporting people to sing, scream, cry, yell and express themselves in their own unique way. It could be possibly be described as a ‘practice’ - because, to be sure, there is never any end to the practice of learning about human behaviour. Anything can and does happen. What it actually feels like is hanging out with people in inner space, whilst connecting with energies and techniques from outer space that catalyse some sort of transformative experience for everyone involved.
It would not be honest of me to suggest that this wonderful technicolour journey has been without challenge. To choose to be self-employed is to step outside much of our cultural conditioning, which is liberating and can also at times be scary and isolating. Three things have been key for me: 1) maintaining a daily practice and taking responsibility for my own personal process - ‘working on my stuff' 2) cultivating a strong support network of like-minded explorers 3) developing a strong set of personal boundaries and ethics and a sense of humour to match.
So, of course there have been storms along the way - to be self employed is to face all our fears and resistance which can come in many forms including financial instability which is what scares most people away from taking the step of self-employment. In a creative lifestyle, money really is a river which has an ebb and a flow and a tide that matches our own inner currents. The key to healing our fear around money is ultimately to separate our sense of self-worth from the numbers on the bank statement. Sometimes I have been paid silly sums of money and sometimes none whatsoever. Which just affirms to me that our current economic system is bonkers and often has no relation to real human values whatsoever. It is too simplistic to say that we are not attracting money because we have low self esteem - sometimes we are not attracting money because the current economic system is not intelligent enough to include us.
Society conditions us to feel that we have failed if we are not competing and producing like good little workers in the machine. When we confront this illusion and realise that actually we are still lovable people regardless of our finances, we become more empowered around money and can then see what intelligence and teaching it has for us. Money has taught me many a time to acknowledge that there is a bigger game plan than my daily consciousness can comprehend - which means that when I need to rest and am not acknowledging it, work will drop off and then reappear when I am stronger. A massive miscalculated tax bill meant I had to move house one year, which turned out to be a life changing experience - and of course the tax office gave me a rebate the following year. All of these experiences have strengthened me immensely and taught me to trust in the innate intelligence of everything that happens in my life, regardless of how bizarre it may appear.
So for me self-employment is the choice to connect and devote my energies and my time to that which richly inspires, challenges and stretches me. For then, life really is singing my own song and allowing myself to be transported and transformed by the experience of it. That’s for now, anyway, for the song is always changing, so I am just listening for the next harmony on the breeze.
I am looking forward to a summer of sonic adventures - my magic carpet takes me to the following places - please do come and bring your magic and sparkle with us!
Garden of Roses - Super Sparkly Birthday Party - 24th July at InSpiral
Tribal Earth - 16th-19th August