Elisa Brown Interview : New World: A Musical Recipe for Peace, Health...
NEW WORLD: A Musical Recipe for Peace, Health and Well-Being
By Elisa Brown
The intention behind creating my second album, NEW WORLD, started with those two little words, but how I arrived at those two words is a quite a tale!
My first CD, The Ave Maria Experience (AME), was released in 2010. When my producer and co-arranger on AME, the Grammy winning producer and renowned sound healer, Barry Goldstein, asked me what was my favorite song, the first title that came to my mind was “Ave Maria”. He suggested we start this first new album with a new arrangement of this one song and take it from there. As it turned out, we wrote and recorded SO much music for that one song that we found we had not one, but 10 new arrangements of the same song! It was a big risk to come out with a debut album of this nature, but I believed in my heart that this was the right path for me to take. I was right.
AME wasn’t a blockbuster, commercial hit, but it was successful in so many important ways that I could never have imagined, both for me and for people I did not know or barely knew. I received letters from total strangers telling me that listening to AME brought their families back together, helped cancer patients better manage their treatments, and brought peace and tranquility back into their lives. However, it was June’s story that stood out for me and gave me the courage to make another album.
June (not her real name) is a waitress at a local restaurant that I have been frequenting for years. In spite of the constant smile on her face and her cheerful disposition, June always seemed forlorn to me. I didn’t really know the cause of her sadness and didn’t want to pry into her personal life. One day, June was especially downtrodden. I made small talk with her to cheer her up a bit, during which time she asked me what I did for a living. I told her that I was a professional singer/songwriter and that I had dedicated my life to helping others through song. I asked her if she would like a copy of AME and she said sure. I gave her a copy as a gift and left it at that.
Fast forward six months.
I was asked to premiere a new chamber ensemble composition for the inaugural concert of The New York Women’s Ensemble in Carnegie Hall’s Stern/Perelman auditorium. This was my Carnegie Hall debut concert! Believe me when I tell you that I had practiced, practiced, practiced for YEARS and had not found my way to that stage, so to say that I was thrilled is an understatement.
I was so excited about this fabulous opportunity that I told EVERYONE I met about it. I told June, too, and she said that she would like to attend. I was truly surprised. I had no idea she liked classical music. June then gave me the most precious and important gift concerning my music that I have ever received. She told me that she had been suffering from alcohol addiction for most of her adult life and had fallen so far from Grace that she didn’t know which way was up anymore. She was just about to throw in the towel when I gave her a copy of AME. June said that the first time she listened to AME was the last time she ever took a drink. She told me that the music touched her heart and opened her soul to Divine Healing. She said that she listens to AME any time she feels a desire to take a drink; the lyrics Barry and I wrote, “Mother of the Light, fill my heart, fill my soul with the breath of the All. Hear my prayer. Amen.” are a source of strength for her to maintain her resolve to stay sober. As of this month, June has been sober for almost two years!
When I told Barry about June’s experience, he was just as overwhelmed with gratitude as I was. We both believe that music is the universal language of love and can touch and elevate one’s soul. If we could create music that was able to touch June’s life in such a profound way, what if we set the intention to create another album that celebrates disparate musical genres, cultural practices and philosophical ideals that would touch people’s hearts the world over, transforming their lives in a positive way going forward? Think Big isn’t just the name of Barry’s production studio; it’s how we choose to create!
We put that intention into motion and let go of any preconceived ideas we had of how to make this happen. Instead, we allowed it to happen.
Barry and I got down to work right away. We didn’t have to look far for inspiration to begin writing. Every song on this album was the result of unexpected illuminations of little gifts that showed up in everyday life. The cacophony of New York City’s Times Square inspired a call for peace in the midst of noise and haste that is the essence of Invocation. The lyrics from Cullins of Rhum, “As though who art yearning will yearn it to be,” quietly appeared in a notebook as I was searching for a Muse to guide me through the creative process. The bell chorus in We Are So Much More mirrors my parents’ clocks that would chime every time I began the Taoist Kan and Li meditation. And my nieces and nephews splashing in the water and romping through the grass gave birth to Wiggle Your Toes.
Every song on NEW WORLD is embedded with powerfully restorative intentions to create a musical recipe for peace, health and well-being. Each song on the album bridges science and spirituality by incorporating musical tools such as entrainment, resonance and specific harmonies to assist the mind and body in reaching a more balanced and peaceful state. If you have never heard of these terms before, let me give you two simplified definitions. At a basic level, musical entrainment happens when people all tap their foot to the beat of a drum. This action synchronizes people to an external rhythm for a particular purpose. For example, the drum beat in patriotic music can entrain soldiers to march. Think of resonance as musical frequencies that vibrate together in a compatible way so as to make people feel comfortable. For example, mediation music uses resonance to help the listener achieve a deep state of relaxation.
I incorporated both ancient and modern healing techniques into my writing and performance of each song to create a powerful and emotive experience for listeners that would invite them to tap into their true potential of what can be achieved together as we move forward to create a “New World”. What does that mean? Well, here’s one example of an ancient technique. I wrote songs in keys that correspond with some of the teachings of the ancient Greeks (during the time of Pythagoras, b. 570 BC–d. 495 BC) that indicate that each musical scale/modality affects people in different ways. A modern technique is using the power of intention to color each word with a specific feeling. This is rather esoteric sounding, but it’s something that we all do every day. The word “whatever” is a good example. Just ask a teenager!
I wanted every aspect of this album to invite the listener into this “New World”. That meant that the cover art had to convey that message as well. I decided to use a Celtic Key on the cover as this symbol is synonymous with unity. I wanted to be photographed holding the key while wearing a blue gown and standing in front of the grove of trees that are behind my house. I envisioned a portal to a “New World” opening up above the tree line. I found a Celtic Key on Etsy.com and a blue gown on Overstock.com in no time! I explained my concept to my photographer, who worked with the cover designer to realize my idea to its fullest. Using the colors blue to promote calmness, the color green to promote balance and the color gold — an important color in Oriental healing — to strengthen the energies associated with the entire immune system resulted in compelling imagery that invites the viewer to join us on in the creation of a “New World”.
As Barry and I drew near to completion of the album, other What if questions came into our hearts:
What if…? •
© 2012 Elisa Brown. All rights reserved.
Listen to samples of Elisa Brown's inspiring NEW WORLD CD at iTunes. Visit her Web site to learn more about her work and upcoming events at ElisaBrownMusic.com.