Music to Nourish your Soul
This week, my dear friend and our Sunny Optimist buddy sent me a link to her latest musical offering called Simple Gifts. Dirje is an amazing improvisational musician, composer, licensed professional counsellor, and certified music practitioner. I wrote a piece about her back in February 2021 called The Grateful Cellist. There is a gentleness to her music that opens the heart and brings us beautifully into the present moment. Together with her musical collaborator Billy Crockett of Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio, they have crafted a most delightful and nourishing collection of spiritual songs. Billy's voice and guitar playing are exquisite and marry so powerfully with Dirje's evocative style. I just love the selection of songs and appreciate the dedication, skillfulness and sincerity that abounds in their collaboration.
You can listen to Billy and Dirje discuss their co-creative adventure below.
I thought you might appreciate hearing their story in their own words below.
"We are two friends who have a history of collaboration on stage and in the studio. The idea was to make something for Billy's mom. Through recent years, we have made a ritual of playing for her and the other residents at her assisted living facility. During the pandemic, though, this became impossible and the long months of isolation took their toll. The once vital orchestra conductor, mom and friend was even less able to engage. What was needed was a recording for Jerrie to hear. So, as two musical pals, we met in the studio to record simple versions of the songs and hymns that live deep in her experience. The result, these recordings, seem to speak of the orientation we long for, a bedrock of grace reflected through the life of Jerrie—servant leader, Mom, musician, friend."
The collection is stunningly beautiful and a real treat for the soul. I often think about the phrase "finding simplicity on the other side of complexity". In these troubled times, I so appreciate how spiritual music like this can open a portal and accompany us over the threshold to a place of harmony and peacefulness. Mmmmmmm
Here is a link to the Simple Gifts website, where you can access their music for free, and if you are called, you can donate too. All of the proceeds will go to charity. There is also the opportunity to comment on your experience with the music. I know Billy and Dirje would love to hear from our Sunny Optimists community.
Hearing Jerrie’s story brought me to thinking of my Dad and the three years he spent in an assisted living space before he passed. He was in my dreams last night, and it feels like Simple Gifts awakened memories of our times together. He was a choir boy at the Cathedral Church of St Mary’s in Edinburgh, and he loved to get up and entertain the other residents. Dad’s party piece was Mendelsson’s ‘Oh for the Wings of a Dove,’. Music was very much a part of my life with him. Here is a link to a piece I wrote about music in our family called When an Elder dies a Library is Lost.
Spiritual songs are very much part of my Scottish Presbyterian upbringing. When I hear them, I feel called into a deep connection with my heritage. The skirl of the bagpipes does that to me too—big smile.
Questions for this week
So, my dear Sunny Optimise buddies, my questions for you this week are:
What spiritual music touches your soul?
What memories arise from your spiritual tradition?
Who comes to mind as you sing your songs of harmony and peace?
As always, I would love to hear from you:)
Thank you for sharing this touching piece Ann. Your newsletter is like a fresh breath of bliss in midst of a very messy world. 🌼
This is so lovely, Ann. I love getting to see you and your father together. Such a sweet soul, I can tell. While I have strayed from the church, hymns will always feel like some kind of spiritual home for me. These arrangements bring that sweet longing back into the music. And, so much more meaningful because it is a love letter to Billy's beautiful mom. Thank you for sharing with everyone.