My journey through life as a woman and musician has been one of
learning and transformation. It started with my family of
musicians who encouraged my interest in music from a very young
age. I still remember looking at the film my father took of me
trying to play his trumpet when I was three years old. I
participated in band and choir throughout my school years and
only stopped when I joined the work force. When I discovered
people who were spiritually kin to myself, I was led to the
discovery of the muse within me. My creativity blossomed. With
a wellspring of ancient and modern mythology to draw from, I
started to write chants and then whole songs. My belief system
is eclectic and borrows from many spiritual paths such as Celtic
Wicca, Native American philosophies, Greek mythology and
Hinduism. Grandmother Twyla of the Seneca Nation calls our
generation the "rainbow people" and says that we are drawn to
many paths because we are meant to bring a rainbow of people
together to create healing and peace with each other and Mother
When it was time for me to get back into performing music, I was guided to a woman who started the band Pomegranate. We spent many years together making beautiful music. When the time came for me to move on, I sought vision in the women's sweat lodge at a festival called Rites of Spring. I received blessings and encouragement from the other women in the lodge. I felt welcomed and healed and invited to sing of all the things that have been gifted to me from spirit and god/dess. KIVA was born of this lodge. KIVA's music is about healing and sacred space, love, the goddess, nature and our experiences as women.
Being the leader of a band has been a powerful lesson in letting go for me. The more I feared the departure of a musician, the more difficult working with that musician became. When I bless those who are with me for the gift of their music and bless their journey when they leave new musicians seem to want to come and fill the vacancy in the band much quicker. Applying the same concept to my friends and family has led to more peaceful relationships in my life. I feel I have been learning to trust in the universe to provide an outlet for the needs of myself and my friends to express our spiritual and musical passions. The current version of KIVA [in 1994] includes percussionist/flautist Eve Jones, guitarist/flautist/singer/songwriter Nicole Cooley, and singer/guitarist/percussionist Diana Sunday.
One of the challenges of being an alternative and female musician is producing albums and getting them distributed. I have been "lucky" in that when it was time to record I found a wonderful engineer with a studio who was supportive, talented and not expensive. The way technology is getting cheaper, more and more people are getting involved in recording albums as this magazine shows. Once I had the recordings, the folks at Ladyslipper liked what they heard and are doing a great job of distributing for KIVA. We are now in New Leaf catalog and our reviews in Heartsong Review help as well. Recording is hard work but a great deal of fun. I invite my local musical friends and those from as far away as New York City and North Carolina to record percussion, group vocals, piano, guitar, bass etc. KIVA doesn't limit our styles of music much. We are based firmly in Celtic style folk but range as far afield as blues and Caribbean style music and we also do many chants. I love women's voices for chanting because they can be so ethereal and yet earthy at the same time. The latest albums, Alchemy, Mother Wisdom Original and Traditional Chants by KIVA, and Finding the Balance Within show our range of styles. It takes almost a year to get a recording done due to scheduling with both our engineer and the musicians.
Another part of album making is creating the album covers. Our cover artist, Persephone, also dances interpretively to our music when we perform. Heartsong Review printed a cover of hers that was originally the cover of KIVA's first album, The Healing Art. Not content to stop at being a dancer and artist, she wrote a beautiful rhythmic song called Star of the Sea which is featured on our latest album, Finding the Balance Within. Recently, she's been working jointly with Steve Park on our album covers. Steve has done album covers, t-shirts and other art projects for people such as Prince, David Bowie, the Grateful Dead, and others.
My reward for all the hard work comes when I see the audience creating a spiral dance spontaneously or when I see that most of the audience knows a song and sings along. There have been times when people have told me that my music has brought them to a community without which they would have given up on the world or that the music has given them hope and joy. To give hope to others is the greatest gift I could give and receive at the same time.
More recently I've worked with a band called Tribe of Spirit as their lead singer with percussionist Ken Anoff who was interviewed in a previous percussion issue of Heartsong Review. We've performed in many places together including Bali, Indonesia. I am currently involved in a multicultural chant/music group in the DC area that will be performing soon. My journey continues and I am always seeking new ways to express hope, joy, love and life in its myriad of forms.
Peace and blessings to all.
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Revision Date: March 28, 2006