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Archive for the ‘World Music’ Category

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Moya Brennan & Cormac De BarraAffinity Album Review: New vocal and instrumental album by legendary vocalist Moya Brennan and harpist Cormac De Barra.

Two legendary international musicians, Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra, have proven yet again the unification of top Irish talents is assured to become an endearing vocal and instrumental album like no other.

Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra are gifted musicians of the highest caliber from Ireland, each with successful solo careers and so in this respect their enduring careers as music professionals have without surprise, emboldened the lovely melodic songs they convey to the world.

Recognized as the First Lady of Celtic Music, and The Voice of Clannad, Moya Brennan brings her skillful vocal talent to the forefront, while brilliant harpist Cormac De Barra delivers a divine instrumental fusion on their new release for 2013 entitled Affinity. Their newest release follows another exceptional vocal instrumental album from 2011 titled Voices & Harps.

Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra both are famous for their proficiency as vocalist and harpist respectively, which is unmistakable on their newest. Together the Voices & Harps team is supported by a specialized lineup of professional back-up singers and orchestral artists performing on keyboard, guitars, flutes, fiddle, cello, percussion, and more.

New Affinity AlbumWhile some tracks of 12 songs total contain song lyrics performed in English, including a cover song by Christopher Cross titled Sailing; several songs are performed in their native Gaeilge language, similar in style to songs heard on albums by the group Clannad.

As one would hope Affinity by like minded definition of the word itself, shines by its beauty and refinement, embracing the wide ranging cultural influence of world music and the beloved Celtic melodies of Ireland that have transported them into the limelight of international fame and prominence.

If you are looking for one of the finest vocal instrumental albums fulfilling a wide range of musical tastes, especially in the Celtic and world music category look to the professionally driven leaders, and their new album named Affinity.

The 12 songs on Affinity are: Intro (Suas Sios), Sailing, The Lass of Aughrim, Worlds Collide, I Feel You Breathe, Cruiscin Lan, Captain O’Kane, Seoithin Seo, Stoirin Rua, When the Morning Breaks, Ardaigh Cuan & Suas Sios.

Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra’s new album Affinity is currently available exclusively in physical CD format and Mp3 format, or purchase single song downloads at VoicesAndHarps.com. Prior to the June 25th release date sample or pre-order Affinity at Amazon.com or sample and pre-order Affinity at iTunes.

Visit the artists at MoyaBrennan.com and CormacDeBarra.com. Photo and cover art courtesy voicesandharps.com.

Diane Arkenstone Banner

Diane Arkenstone Interview 2013Interview in 2013 with contemporary artist Diane Arkenstone.

New Age Music World interview host and publicist John P. Olsen had a recent opportunity to interview the popular, multi-platinum selling singer, songwriter, and contemporary instrumental recording artist Diane Arkenstone.

During this interview taking place near the spring of 2013 a variety of in-depth topics are covered. Included is a conversation about Diane Arkenstone’s soon to be released album titled Union Road, and the contributing artists who have helped transform her newest vocal and instrumental release into one of her most captivating albums produced to date.

Diane Arkenstone also replies to questions about her experiences as founder of the Neo Pacifica Recordings Label, and the meaning behind the formation of artist titles she has released in a variety of music styles.

Today I am pleased to present an informative and lighthearted conversation with one of today’s leading, and most beloved producers of contemporary music covering a wide variety of instrumental styles.

John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my interview invitation Diane! It’s a privilege to host your newest interview for fans and visitors in 2013, here at New Age Music World. I can honestly say I have been a fan and admirer of the music you create for years so our interview is especially rewarding to me!

Diane Arkenstone: Hi John! Thank you so much for your very kind words, I am smiling! And thank you for this wonderful opportunity to connect with everyone here!

Union Road by Diane ArkenstoneJohn: Let’s begin our conversation with the topic of your brand new album Union Road, due for release next week on March 26, 2013. Earlier this year I wrote a pre-release review for Union Road, I believe it’s clear by what I wrote, I felt your newest release of contemporary Folk ballads is indeed special! Beautiful in every way, Union Road is a uniquely personal album with special meaning to you too, isn’t that right?

Diane Arkenstone: Yes, this is my most personal album yet because the lyrics I wrote are of stories and observations I have personally experienced. I am a story teller and have always loved to write about life which made this album a great joy to create. And a even greater catharsis.

John: Who are the instrumental artists performing with you, and what are their individual contributions which have helped make your release an exceptional album?

Diane Arkenstone: Mader, who is a wonderful film composer from France, and has scored two films for Ang Lee, among many others, produced most of the album with me, and played a wide and wonderful variety of instruments such as mandolin, bass, keyboards, accordion, various percussion instruments and guitar.

MB Gordy, who is a wonderful percussionist and studio musician, played beautiful and exotic percussion on quite a few of the songs as well. Chad Watson, who  has played with many, many well-known artists, played bass, and I watched spellbound, as his hands danced all over his fretless bass on several songs.

Diane ArkenstoneEric Rigler, who played the pipes in the film score, The Titanic, added magic with his penny whistle on the first song, Little Cup of Coffee.

David Arkenstone played guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion magnificently, and helped produce a couple of the songs with me for the album. Charlee Brooks and Jane George added beautiful background vocals on two of the songs.

And then, Bruce Watson played some amazing guitar on a couple of songs and has played with many well-known artists for quite a while himself. They are all truly unique and gifted artists in their own right and I am deeply grateful for each and every one of them.

John: Union Road is an instrumental and vocal album with lovely poetic lyrics. Would you like to tell us the point of view you are expressing by lyrical verses?

Diane Arkenstone: Very simply, thru lyric and song, I am telling the stories of situations that I have personally observed in life.

John: Album reviews from other sources and press commentaries are coming in, plus you have given a number of new interviews including Blog Talk Radio and KSBR 88.5 FM Jazz. How is the reception of your new release been so far?

Diane Arkenstone: Oh my gosh, it has been a huge happy welcoming committee! I wrote 77 songs for the album and truly just grabbed a handful of songs that seemed to fit well together and am pleased and elated by the reviews and press!

Diane Arkenstone SingingJohn: I am not surprised but that’s great news Diane! Union Road is a brilliant album in every way, unique to your earlier releases, and I read there is an earlier first album of contemporary folk songs too. Would you please tell us all about this earlier first album?

Diane Arkenstone: Thank you John for saying that about Union Road! And yes, I released an album in digital format called, Stories. It is a cross between my earlier releases and the Folk/Americana feel of Union Road. It also is an album that sings of stories of life’s observations.

John: In addition to the studio albums you also perform live concerts. This must be an exciting time for you since you are about to begin an extensive tour this spring. Would you give us the details like the concert venue locations and artists who will be performing with you?

Diane Arkenstone: Right now, I am finishing up a number of music projects, so touring may be a bit delayed.

John: Do you have a song set list selected, and in terms of atmosphere and setting, what can a concert attendee expect to experience during a live concert with Diane Arkenstone?

Diane Arkenstone ConcertDiane Arkenstone: The songs will be from Union Road of course, plus a few unreleased songs where I play some interesting and exotic instruments and sing. And the band is a group of dear friends who are wonderful studio and touring musicians. Lots of beautiful music, good energy and love, will be present for every show!

John: The artist titles you have either founded or performed in are; Ah Nee Mah, Earth Trybe, Enaid, Adventure Cargo, Marquis Ensemble, Middle Earth Orchestra, and naturally as the duo with former husband David Arkenstone. What are the distinctions of these artist titles?

Diane Arkenstone: ‘Ah Nee Mah’ is our Native American music, inspired by my Cherokee heritage and our love of playing Native flutes and percussion. David and I lived in the Southwest for a few years, next to several reservations and lived a very interesting and beautiful life there.

We wrote several ‘Ah Nee Mah’ albums during that time, which are still selling quite well. And ‘Earth Trybe’ is beautiful world music where we had fun writing and playing many unusual and interesting instruments from around the world. And ‘Enaid’ is Celtic music, and I came up with that name by reversing my first name and then surprised to find out that is means, life/soul in old Celtic/Irish.

‘Adventure Cargo’ is more world music, with more wild instruments, and beautiful songs. The last album for ‘Adventure Cargo’ is called, Following The Equator and it has songs on it that represent the countries along the Equator. It was great fun for me learning about all the countries along the Equator then writing songs for a special place or landmark in each country.

D. Arkenstone Albums‘Marquis Ensemble’ is lovely, sweet piano music. Reflections from the Wine Country was the first album under the alias, ‘Marquise Ensemble’ and was inspired by my family’s winery. And ‘Middle Earth Orchestra’, is music inspired by the book, The Hobbit.

John: In the 1990’s you founded Neo Pacifica Recordings Label. Would you tell us some aspects of owning your own record label, including the advantages and obstacles to this business venture?

Diane Arkenstone: It has been a great advantage for me, to have my own record company; it is a lot of work but stretched me to new heights in terms of experience and knowledge.

I appreciate the work the major labels do, which is tremendous, but I navigate these waters quite successfully, and prefer knowing what the expenses are and what is going on with manufacturing, distribution, licensing, marketing, publicity, publishing and especially royalties. It is a great sense of accomplishment and freedom, to truly own your music, and do with it as you wish.

John: On the subject of record labels, I read your biography at the Eversound Music Label website where it states; “Diane Arkenstone wrote her first song at the age of three, played piano at five and picked up her first guitar at the tender age of seven.” I am curious to know if you aspired to become a musician at a young age too, or in other words, what were the circumstances surrounding your decision to pursue a career in music?

Diane Arkenstone: I loved writing music at a very young age, but also had a great desire to be an Olympic runner. I worked extremely hard at running but could not keep up with anyone. Music came much easier, and I learned that if you have to force something, it is not right to begin with.

As it turned out, after I kept passing out, we discovered I was born with a ‘special heart’ that required a lot of surgeries to fix things. And along the way since childhood, I have had six pacemakers. The seventh pacemaker and more surgeries are due in a few years. Life is precious.

Arkenstone AlbumsJohn: I didn’t realize the challenges you face Diane, and we all wish you well. The music industry as a whole has greatly changed since you began producing music early on to the present. What observations have you made over the years, and what changes in the music industry have affected you most?

Diane Arkenstone: My observations come from a unique vantage point. Having my own label and releasing dozens of albums under different aliases and different genres, I created a lot of niche markets for the music in the mainstream and alternative markets, and it is all still going strong today. And for me, the digital world has been a great success for so many reasons.

John: You have enjoyed a wonderful and successful music career for many years Diane. You are a source of admiration for millions of fans and even colleagues in the music industry alike. What would you say is the best part of being a highly successful, contemporary artist?

Diane Arkenstone: You are so sweet John to say that, thank you! Truly though, I am unaware of such a thing because every day I put one foot in front of the other and focus and do my very best with whatever project is at hand.

John: Well Diane, fans truly adore you, plus you are a role model for many artists. Knowing artists at varying stages of their music careers will read our interview; do you have any words of advice to artists just beginning their music careers?

Diane Arkenstone: If you have a dream, follow it! Be prepared for long hours and depend on yourself as much as possible, and then all that energy you put into your career, will reward you greatly in countless ways. When you are passionate about something, every door you need to walk thru will open, even the ones you have no clue about.

Diane Arkenstone InterviewJohn: Being a prolific artist Diane you have an extensive collection of excellent albums to choose from. I have my favorite albums and songs, and your fans likewise have their favorite albums.

I realize this is a never an easy question for an artist, but for persons new to your music, what 3 albums other than Union Road is a starting point to begin sampling your many outstanding releases?

Diane Arkenstone: Oh my goodness, I love them all! Let’s see, Jewel In The Sun, The Healing Spirit & Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape, which are all so very different from each other.

John: I would like to thank you again for your generosity by giving fans and myself this opportunity to find out more about you, and your newest projects Diane.

I hope we can get together by another interview someday. Before we close our conversation for now, is there anything you would like to express to the fans that have supported you over the years?

Diane Arkenstone: First of all, thank you again from my heart, John, for this wonderful opportunity to connect and share with everyone, it means the world to me. And I very much look forward to more interviews with you!

And to every beautiful soul who has supported my music, I am deeply grateful beyond words. A million thanks, and a million blessings. And please always be compassionate and loving towards yourself and towards others, it is our most valuable currency and reason for being, for truly, we are all one.

Visit DianeArkenstone.com and discover a great selection of albums in her store download section. Sample and purchase albums and songs by Diane Arkenstone at Amazon.com & iTunes.com. Photos & artwork courtesy dianearkenstone.com.

The 55th GRAMMY® Award Nominations for the entire 81 music categories, including the World Music genre category, were announced several days ago during a live television broadcast and entertainment presentation on December 5, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The opening presentation by The Recording Academy®, presented live on the CBS Television Network, began the official countdown to the 55th GRAMMY® Awards Ceremony for 2013. The program for the evening show in Nashville publicized as “The GRAMMY Nomination Concert Live!! – Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night included past winners and nominees who gave a series of live entertainment performances.

The 55th GRAMMY® Awards Ceremony specified at Grammy.com lists the date of February 10, 2013, when they will reveal the award-winning artists in 81 Best Album Award categories. During the music awards presentation scheduled for February 10, 2013, the CBS Television Network will broadcast the official ceremony live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California at 8:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. ET/PT.

I have interviewed or written album reviews for a number of GRAMMY® Award/Nominated artists over the years. If you are new to this music blogspot there is more information to read about artists in this year and past years award competition in the New Age, Instrumental, Americana, Soundtrack, and World music genre categories.

The 5 Nominees in the World Music category (#51) are shown alphabetically. You may sample or purchase the Nominated albums for every artist by direct links to each album at Amazon.com. Read more music news at Grammy.com and the complete category list of 81 Nominees at Grammy.com. Photos are courtesy each artist & Big Stock Photo – HelleM.

The 55th GRAMMY® Nominees – World Music Album Category are:

1. Folila by Amadou & Mariam. Sample or purchase Folila at Amazon.com.

2. On A Gentle Island Breeze by Daniel Ho. Sample or purchase On a Gentle Island Breeze at Amazon.com.

3. Jabulani by Hugh Masekela. Sample or purchase Jabulani at Amazon.com.

4. Traveller by Anoushka Shankar. Sample or purchase Traveller at Amazon.com.

5. The Living Room Sessions Part 1 by Ravi Shankar. Find The Living Room Sessions at Amazon.com.

Nicholas Gunn Interview – Special News in 2013 and Forward:

Multi-platinum recording artist Nicholas Gunn is a classically trained flutist recognized as one of the best-selling instrumental flutists worldwide.

Famous for the contemporary atmosphere and resounding beauty of his music, Nicholas Gunn has achieved earlier success of over 2 million albums sold, having become a legendary artist in the instrumental music industry, with many of his albums reaching the Top 10 Billboard Charts.

Nicholas Gunn’s newest instrumental release for 2012, and perhaps most significant of all is his fourteenth album named Thirty-One Nights, which arrives after an interval of 5 years. The highest standards we have come to expect are expertly portrayed on Thirty-One Nights, which enlists the world-class talents of vocalist Dana Kemmerle, along with acoustic guitarist Chris Fossek.

New Age Music World host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview Nicholas Gunn months prior to 2013. During the newest interview with Nicholas Gunn the range of topic include a conversation about his new album, history and career as an artist, National Park albums, and the Gemini Sun Records Label he once owned and operated.

Nicholas Gunn also states his views on today’s music industry and the upcoming Ballots and Nominations for the 55th GRAMMY® Awards. And perhaps most importantly, Nicholas Gunn has released a significant news announcement regarding his music career going forward. Today we are pleased to present their conversation to fans, and to Music World site visitors.

John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my interview invitation Nicholas. It is a privilege to host your newest interview in 2012, here at New Age Music World. I have been a huge fan of your music for many years, plus I enjoyed reading even more about you while preparing for our interview together. I must say you have experienced a fascinating life and career Nicholas.

Nicholas Gunn: Thank you John, it is really a pleasure to be a part of your music forum today, and it’s great to see how popular New Age Music World has become.

John: Thanks for your compliment! Let me begin with your earliest experiences as a musician, since your educational studies seem to have been a formative influence in the music you produce today. You were born in South East England, and were academically trained from age 7 to 11 in classical music at the Royal Academy of Music conservatoire in the UK. While attending the Royal Academy of Music, what led you to choose woodwinds over other instruments, and would you please tell us about your earliest academic studies, training and first introduction to music while living in the UK?

Nicholas Gunn: I grew up in a small, quaint village called Hartlip in Kent County England. It was in many ways a beautiful childhood. I think when there is that much space around you and the chatter is minimized, it’s easier to focus on things such as music. When I was around 5 or 6 I used to watch Top of the Pops on TV and tap away on the side of the couch. I think my folks were listening carefully to see if I had any sense of rhythm and inclination for music.

My Grandfather was a professional guitar player with The Felix Mendelssohn Orchestra so I think there was a desire in many ways to keep the music going in the family. I remember at 6 seeing a performance on TV of Sir James Galway and thinking how beautiful the flute sounded. It stuck with me and when my folks asked me what I wanted to play as an instrument that’s immediately what I said. It’s crazy really, the next thing I know I am taking lessons at 6 from the Royal Marines Bands principle flautist, Mick Judson. An incredible experience, full of wonder and endless possibilities!

He would come to my house in Hartlip once or twice a week for lessons and I would take my exams in London; it was a lot for a young kid but really rewarding. He was a great instructor and man, and a big part of the foundation my music is built upon. One time, Mick allowed me to sit with him in the pit orchestra to the musical Oliver in London, and I remember having a brief encounter with Sir James Galway during this time and thinking, this is really what I want to do!

By the time we moved to Los Angeles in 1979 I had music training most eleven year olds rarely acquire and was a misfit really. It was tough, as an eleven year old boy, walking with your flute to band through junior high school. I witnessed a huge disparity in culture and acceptance of art on multiple levels. It was cruel and I was pissed off at these kids that bullied me. There were several occasions I would walk outside of gym class and I would have my ass handed to me on a platter for playing flute. Its cliche really, all band kids experience bullying, some more than others, it’s just the way it was and sometimes still is. My music holds a sense of compassion I have trouble finding otherwise. I believe it has healed me and allowed me an outlet of expression to resolve these feelings for myself. I like to believe there is no anger in my music, just love, beauty, compassion, and acceptance. I wanted to convey that message.

John: Knowing now that the Royal Academy of Music Alumni include other great artists like Elton John, Annie Lennox and Michael Nyman, and others; did you appreciate the fact at the time you were beginning a strong foundation for a successful music career later in life?

Nicholas Gunn: No, not really, not at that time. I had no idea about any of those things. It was more a feeling of this is what everyone does. When you are that young, there is no real sense for “aligning” yourself within academics or community. I pretty much followed what my folks told me to do, and believed it to be normal, and now have immense appreciation for them guiding me and recognizing my potential.

John: Classical music influences are apparent in your compositions, including your new album Thirty-One Nights. What classical music elements, for example structure, rhythm or metrics, do you find most appealing?

Nicholas Gunn: I have to say it’s the interplay between rhythm and melody. Being a flautist, I studied mostly counterpoint theory at the academy. We poured over the great composers in detail and I absorbed the constant interplay you find in lead lines, counter melody lines, and the foundation it all sits upon; rhythm. I believe that one essential element of music is structure. Meaning; memorable, reoccurring, lasting melody will always make an impression on the listener over a long extended period of time.

As an instrumentalist I find it even more important to remember this. Strong verse, chorus, turnaround and bridge are vital to great compositions. If the music lacks a lyric and a vocal, I believe it’s even more important to impress structure and melody on the listener. Think about it, music in the moment can be inspirational, but if one can reflect upon a composition because of its melody and literally be transported to that moment in time again, that is the true essence of the music experience on the human experience.

John: What was the turning point when you decided to pursue a challenging career as an artist?

Nicholas Gunn: When I was around 16-17 years old I side stepped flute for a few years and took up drums, playing in both marching band and several rock bands. I literally played the kit in every bar on the Sunset Strip over a three year period including The Whiskey, The Roxy, Madam Wong’s, The Troubadour, etc. It was a great experience at a very young age and it gave me the douse of confidence I needed. I had a brief stint doing some commercials and modeling as well and actually made a few bucks but that’s a whole different story! I came out of this phase “knowing” I guess you could say, that there was only one direction for me, and that was to fully immerse myself into creating my own instrumental music.

I was a huge fan of Vangelis, Jean Michael Jarre, Pink Floyd etc., and saw that instrumental music had its place in the market and was growing at that time. I bought some recording gear and schooled myself in engineering and production, learning how to get recordings to sound great! I went down to Westlake Studios and other studios in West Hollywood and just hung out asking awesome stupid questions and rubbing shoulders with the best engineers. There was no question afterward that I was fiercely dedicated to making my own music.

John: You released your first album Afternoon In Sedona in 1992, and a year later re-released Afternoon In Sedona thru the Real Music record label, which directly influenced sales, and changed the course of your career, isn’t that right?

Nicholas Gunn: That’s pretty accurate I would say. Before being signed to Real Music I had worked pretty hard to get popular retail chains such as Natural Wonders and Nature Company to recognize myself release of Afternoon in Sedona. Those were great retail chains and they focused on a select amount of instrumental titles in their thousands of high end stores. It was easy math really; mass retail exposure, select titles, genre specific, those were great days for sales! I had sent Real Music several submissions of Afternoon in Sedona but it was only until Natural Wonders showed interest they offered me a deal. It made sense for everyone and we re-worked the album a little and re-released in 1993 to moderate success, not big success mind you! There was a heightened awareness of the product but it was not until my second album The Sacred Fire that things changed drastically.

John: That’s right your 1994 release The Sacred Fire, was the first album to make the Top 10 Billboard Charts in the new age category. Were you surprised by making the Billboard Top 10 New Age chart verses another category since your albums can be placed in a broader, instrumental or world music category?

Nicholas Gunn: No, I was not surprised actually. Real Music had made it clear we were binning the album New Age at retail. Back in those days, binning was integral to sales and exposure and once you chose your category, well you’re pretty much stuck, especially if you sell.

The New Age chart was an accessible chart as well, meaning it was an emerging genre and not so saturated with other artists. The Sacred Fire actually did not receive its initial success at conventional retail but started selling big at both Natural Wonders and at Nature Company.

The album was literally blowing out the doors holding a #1 chart position in the chains for a year or so. Around this time conventional retail chains such as Borders and Barnes were watching this emerging genre closely and started to expand their New Age Music selections and positioning.

The Sacred Fire album, along with my third album, The Music of the Grand Canyon, which closely followed, was embraced and we finally received chart position through sales at these and similar retail chains.

John: I must say your newest release Thirty-One Nights, which debuted on the Billboard Top Ten New Age Chart, is a beautifully designed album Nicholas. Your albums have consistently made the Top 10 Billboard Charts over the years, so I wondered is making the Billboard Chart is an accurate litmus test for an album’s success over the long haul?

Nicholas Gunn: Thank you John, I am happy to hear Thirty-One Nights resonates with you. This is a great question, but I think it’s important to clarify what Billboard chart position actually means as it seems there is a general misunderstanding of how the system really works. Billboard is an independent trade magazine that reports industry sales via chart position. Billboard receives its sales data from another company called Soundscan.

Soundscan retrieve its sales data from Soundscan retail members. For example, Wal-Mart pays an annual fee to be a member of Soundscan, required by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) that they participate as a major and recognized record retailer. Barcodes at the register are scanned upon sale and sent to Soundscan acknowledging each sale. At major online retailers such as iTunes it is via the embedded ISRC code on the MP3 data through digital download.

Depending on the zip code of sale, one sale can actually represent two or more sales due to the remote location of the sale and person per capita of the zip code. If you are a small retailer, mom or pop store, or even a significant type of other retailer, then most often, these retailers are not participating members of Soundscan. Sales in turn are not being reported, at all! At the height of my sales through alternative retailers such as Nature Company, Natural Wonders, National Park stores, hundreds of thousands of sales went unrecognized as they were not members of Soundscan. There are no gold or platinum records on my walls despite my significant overall sales within the industry.

The Billboard chart positions I actually received over the years were from a fraction of these sales through member participating retailers such as Borders, Barnes, Sam Goody, etc. With that said, while Billboard is indeed an actual litmus test of the success of a title, it does not represent the overall sales performance of a title accurately. My mentor, Harvey Cooper, always said; “Comments and opinions of music are only perceptions but real sales are a true indicator of commercial success.”

John: On your fourteenth album Thirty-One Nights, I must say you have a great team with vocalist Dana Kemmerle and guitarist Chris Fossek. How did you meet Dana and Chris, and could you tell us about the project you created together?

Nicholas Gunn: I met both Chris Fossek and Dana Kemmerle in Santa Barbara, CA. Chris was a local accomplished musician, who has been playing the Santa Barbara circuit for some time. I heard him at a local wine bar and quickly realized this guy had great technique and style. At that time I was starting to formulate what I wanted to do for a new album and listening to him play was really inspiring! I got to know Chris over a period of months before we started tracking together and we became tight friends.

We are the same kind of people, infusing our music with our life experiences! Chris wrote several pieces on the album which allows it to transition beautifully at two main points; Candle Dance & From Water to Wind. Chris also wrote the title track Thirty-One Nights which sets the tone of the album so well. Dana is an absolute breathe of fresh air. After deciding to finish her graduate degree at UCSB in global studies our paths crossed at the very same wine bar I first met Chris in.

Dana has been the core inspiration behind the experience and story that became Thirty-One Nights. I was going through a very difficult time with many changes in my life and she was continuing on with her studies in Spain and in Mexico. We became romantically involved and the next thing I know I asked her to record some spoken word vocals on a track that became track 13 Recuerdame, on the album.

She has a gorgeous balanced tone in her speaking voice and it was an instant match and hit for me in the studio and many more tracks followed! It’s difficult to make spoken word work within music; it has to be just right! Dana and I now work passionately together in many aspects of our lives. We spent thirty one nights together in Mexico recording flutes on top of Mayan pyramids and writing poetry deep in the jungle. She’s one smart cookie, has a healthy and balanced perspective on life, and someone I want to associate and grow with for a very long time.

John: What are the vital key elements Dana and Chris convey to your instrumental with vocals composition Thirty-One Nights?

Nicholas Gunn: Well, Chris comes from an extremely studied background in music with a master’s degree from Cal Arts in Flamenco guitar. It was important to me that I had an authentic approach and sound for Thirty-One Nights. Authentic Flamenco playing includes so many different aspects, such as the knocking on the guitar body, types of open strumming and closed strumming and where picking occurs over the sound hole. Even finer details, such as which part of the finger nail is used to create different sounds against the string, are all important factors!

The guitar itself is vital to the sound. Chris plays on a handcrafted Manuel Bellido guitar which includes design features such as a wider neck and intricate body/sound hole design. Nylon strings are always used, of a certain type, and after a certain amount of wear. There are no pickups used in recording and a single microphone placement to capture a clean natural sound. These are all important factors that create a certain resonance consistent with Flamenco guitar. His writing style is also different than mine which lends to a well-balanced album that transitions at all the right spots. It’s a good partnership in that we are different in all the right ways! With Dana it is about a personal and emotional connection that is intimate.

We experienced Thirty-One Nights together in real time and she has watched, supported, and participated in the unfolding of the album over a year and a half. She has a beautiful speaking voice and her bilingual abilities were a perfect and authentic evocative addition to the album. I have used spoken word sparingly before, and I am telling you, it’s a hard thing to pull off! Dana just had this tone and approach that was, well otherworldly, very seductive such as on The Swallows of Na’ Lu’um. We walked together through jungles, remote Mayan pyramids, went cave diving in Senotes, and used this experience to fuel creativity. Dana wrote about her experiences and created poetry centric to the experience. Dana and I are continuing to work on other exciting projects and in business together. We are partners in many ways.

John: Would you like to tell us more of the story for Thirty-One Nights, and inspiration behind the songs?

Nicholas Gunn: There is a special Thirty-One Nights storybook PDF, with personal photos, that is embedded on the CD and is also available with a full album download. It would be my pleasure to share this with your readers and is the best way to answer this question. Enjoy!

John: I read Thirty-One Nights had a release date of September 11, 2012. Was there any significance of releasing Thirty-One Nights on 9/11, a date now recognized as the American Federal Holiday – Patriot Day?

Nicholas Gunn: No, not at all. Here is the thing; September 11th is a recognized national street date with most major music distributors. This street date has long been in place before the unfortunate events of 9/11. I decided to sign with label Spring Hill Media, distributed by Allegro Media and their system adheres to these dates. I try not to make any political or religious references in my music and this date did not influence me in any way. A broad stroke approach to creating provocative, moving, and inspirational music is my only goal.

John: You have a great number of National Park records, which began under Real Music Record Label. The Music of the Grand Canyon, Beyond Grand Canyon, Through the Great Smoky Mountains, Journey to Yellowstone, plus there are others. How and why did you become involved with the production of National Parks releases?

Nicholas Gunn: Shortly after The Sacred Fire was released (1994) Real Music approached me about a series of recordings they were developing called The National Park Series. I believe they already had one in the bag and it had sold well in its early stages focusing on park stores and alternative retail such Natural Wonders and Nature Company. The idea fit perfectly into the current trend and retail base. My albums initially were inspired by natural surroundings so it was a perfect fit. It was a huge success and continues to be a great catalog album. Naturally, I continued to release additional National Park albums based on request as well as desire to sustain sales and awareness for our National Parks.

John: Every one of your National Park albums is like a colorful canvas. Each has their own merits, but how would you best describe the sound qualities of your National Park releases?

Nicholas Gunn: Cinematic is the word that always comes to mind for me. Cinematic music to me is like a soundtrack to be played against experiencing these natural wonders. Over and over again, I have received letters and emails from folks saying “we drove to the South Rim listening to The Music of the Grand Canyon” or “hiked the Appalachian Trail listening to Through the Great Smoky Mountains.”

Like Thirty-One Nights these albums were inspired, in essence, by travel and geographic location. The only difference being that my artist persona somewhat hid behind the National Park theme.

John: In the late 1990’s you founded the Anagram Records Label, and earlier you founded Gemini Sun Records, a label with numerous award-winning artist, many of whom were artists like yourself who made the Top Ten Billboard Charts. Who are some of the artists on the Gemini Sun Record Label under your direction?

Nicholas Gunn: Anagram existed for only around a year or so when I was previously married and it had two other license deals, one with Mars Lasar and one with Loren Gold as well as Cheryl Gunn’s titles and a few of mine as well. When I was divorced, Anagram dissolved and I started Gemini Sun Records. Gemini Sun Records also closed for business in 2009. Both were started as a way to represent artists in the genre of New Age/World Music that was steadily shrinking.

Labels such as Higher Octave, Windham Hill, and Narada were closing or being sold off to the majors as their assets in masters and publishing were the only thing left, sales were dwindling fast! The days of supporting retail such as Natural Wonders and Nature Company were now gone and artists coming off of these closing labels needed a home. Gemini Sun became that home for a select few; David Arkenstone, 2002, Mars Lasar, Medwyn Goodall, through MG Music, Loren Gold, and myself were just a few of the artists it represented!

John: Would you like to tell us some of the highlights and other aspects, including the drawbacks of owning your own record label?

Nicholas Gunn: In my opinion, it’s a trap in many ways and little positive to talk about. It’s a thankless job that few take on to the degree I did as an artist owned label. I took it on to increase my profitability per sale, to make a difference in a market segment, and to represent great music and artists allowing them to own their own property (masters and publishing). Most artists block the desire to want to know or deal with national distribution, marketing, and promotion – and for good reason! It’s as stressful as hell!

The intricacies of managing the small margins associated with indie national distribution, marketing, and promotion of a niche label within a declining industry, within a declining economy is nothing short of a nightmare! Distributors are set up to protect their bottom line, at all costs!  By cross collateralizing all returns, marketing, and promotion against all sales, the music business on this level is nothing more than a consignment business at massive risk to the label. If you couple that with major retailers who fail to comply with retail campaigns but then charge for the advertising they failed to comply with, it’s a fundamentally flawed system that produced the music industry we see and experience today.

John: The entire music industry as a whole has greatly changed over the years since you began producing music. What are some observations you have made over the years, and in what way has the music industry changed, for better or worse?

Nicholas Gunn: It’s still finding its way, but for the better! Like any business, it’s all about supply and demand and there is little demand for music sales as it used to exist. Music sales are not the future that I am relatively sure of! The use of music continues to be high, but through streaming, illegal downloading and sharing, and second hand online sales from the massive returns and recycling of the music industry as a whole. It’s all spread very thin at little profit to anyone, including the labels. I think there are a few models to watch, one of which would be the Electronic Dance Music market (EDM).

This is a model that has been born in the new distribution and profiteering age of music. Here is a platform with which DJ’s are now producing their own content in the studio and performing through the DJ method at low cost and extremely high output. The concept of sales has never been a priority and sharing/remixing within the community is embraced as a way to popularize the genre and its originating artist. The revenues are in packing 100,000 fans into a venue with the requirement the DJ/Producer simply show up with their gear over their shoulder! It’s brilliant!

The top ten DJ/Producers last year collectively made 127 million dollars and stand atop the industry money making leaders. Now, I am not talking about wedding DJ’s, I am talking about talented DJ/Producers – there’s a big difference! Secondly, and this is important I believe, we need to realize that music, especially in recorded form, is now highly dispensable and transferable. A great song, performance, and recording is still just that, great! It will always be consumed, but the real question becomes what will be the support mechanism that will allow for the creation and performance of this content?

Successful artists have a somewhat self-sustaining system, however how does a new unsigned artist become self-sustaining? I believe we are reverting back to the times when art was supported by benefactors and leaders within both business and government. Companies need art to further define and align their products within the marketplace, and leaders of countries will continue to require education and culture in arts to further the human race. It’s now about selling your talent to a group that needs your involvement to further its own cause, that’s how I see it.

John: Can you foresee any trends developing that may influence your work and perhaps the work of other artists as a whole?

Nicholas Gunn: Quite frankly, this is my last album in the genre for the foreseeable future. I have a great passion for all music and the music business itself and I find the trend of developing more instrumental music within the current instrumental market place quite frustrating and stifling. There really are no venues that support the live performance of this genre and sales are at an all-time low. It’s a testament to my love of the genre that has produced Thirty-One Nights. I wanted to have an album I personally could be really proud of as my departure album.

On the side over the years I have produced my fair share of EDM as it does tend to border on instrumental at times. I have partnered with artist/vocalist Carmen Rainier and we have a project in the works titled (We Are) Nexus. It’s refreshing and invigorating to be a part of a larger and emerging music community that fully embraces the future of the music business. I am a musician and producer first and foremost and I got into this business for my work to be heard. This is the next chapter of my musical career.

John: I heard Thirty-One Nights is on the upcoming nomination ballot for Best New Age Album in the 55th GRAMMY® Awards on Feb. 10, 2013.You will know if nominated on December 5, 2012 isn’t that right, and is there any manner in which Nicholas Gunn fans can support your nomination for a possible music award?

Nicholas Gunn: Actually, it is on the ballot for Best World Music Album which I believe is more appropriate for the album itself. Yes, December 5th is when I will know if Thirty-One Nights receives a nomination. The award is really a peer recognition process of which fans have little part in unless they are a voting member of the academy. All I can say is that after 14 albums, two million sales, and 55 consecutive weeks on the Billboard chart it would be nice to be recognized by my peers; however it will not change the way I go about developing the next chapter of my musical career.

John: Naturally a GRAMMY® Award would put you in the spotlight as an artist, but aside from your own talents as a musician, what external factors have been the greatest influences to your success?

Nicholas Gunn: I would say it’s in taking the risk of wearing all these hats over the years as an artist, writer, producer, engineer, label owner. They all make up for my experience in the business and how I now see the business. Granted, closing my label was an awful experience but liberating and defining all at the same moment. Every passionate path is littered with debris of some sorts and it’s having those experiences that have given me a greater understanding of what I want and what I don’t want. I believe my most successful days lie ahead of me because of this.

John: During your career you have contributed money to the National Park organization, American Lung Association, plus you are on the board of directors for the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), in Santa Barbara, California. Clearly the arts and music education for children and other charitable organizations are important to you. Would you like to tell us about your Philanthropy work, and why it is important to you on a personal level?

Nicholas Gunn: Arts and education for children is paramount. I am a result of parents and a system that exposed me to a finer education in art and music. As a society, we tend to embrace mediocrity as a way to shy away from having to learn more about something, it’s an innate human trait. I sit on the board for the Children’s Creative Project because it grants much needed funding for events that expose children to fine art. It’s simply a matter of proper exposure. We become mediocre when we get older, but we are not that way as children. We learn what we are taught and we soak it all up, no matter which way it comes at us early in life. Real Music initiated the donation to The Grand Canyon Association from sales of The Music of the Grand Canyon.

It was and still is a wonderful cause as the money promotes education and awareness of preservation to both children and adults. This trend carried forth for me through realizing it’s important to give back in this manner. Money is cyclical. You have to give as much as you receive.

John: I would love to release some Nicholas Gunn news about a new project or a concert tour in the planning stages. Is there any additional news you would like to officially announce today?

Nicholas Gunn: I am sorry to say I think the biggest news might be found in my departure from the genre for the foreseeable future. But on a positive note, I have much to give and much to share, only within a different genre. I recently launched a new current events news page at NicholasGunn.com/News. I recommend everyone visit to see what’s new there!

John: Nicholas you are a legendary instrumental artist, regardless of genre or classification, and that my friend will never change! Needless to say I trust we will have a chance to interview again in the future. In closing for now, I want to thank you again for giving everyone this opportunity to find out the latest news about you, and your newest project with Dana Kemmerle and Chris Fossek. Is there anything you would like to say before we close, or express to the fans that have supported you over the course of your career?

Nicholas Gunn: I do want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the valued fans that have supported me over the years. For passionate people such as you John that still see the value and potential in this beautiful genre of music. There are so many people really, over the years, that have helped me realize my goals, and of course I thank them all. I am eternally grateful.

For more information visit NicholasGunn.com. Sample or purchase albums and songs at the Nicholas Gunn music shop. Find details like the making of Thirty-One Nights, info about Dana and Chris, and visit Nicholas at social sites like Facebook. You can also find albums at major online music stores, including the artist page for Nicholas Gunn at Amazon.com. Interview photos are courtesy nicholasgunn.com & Big Stock Photo – Ardith.

World Music Album Review: Festa by Tribali.

If lively World music rhythms and ethnic percussion sound like a fine way to celebrate your day, look no farther than the newest music by international band Tribali from Malta. Placing a strong emphasis on cultural multiplicity in every project, the group Tribali intertwines traditional ethnic music of the Maltese islands, with festive World Music rhythms. It is by all accounts, an arrangement that gives one a reason to celebrate.

Tribali is one of the most famous groups of Malta, if not the most famous. Either way you look at it there is a good reason they are celebrated locally. Tribali is first of all, a major headlining band at live concerts and music festivals in the Republic of Malta. The nationwide Ghaxaq Music Festival, Ta Qali National Park, and Byron Bay Blues fest are several of their recent concert venues, in a country immersed in a rich history and significance regarding traditional Maltese band music.

Festa by Tribali is a new release for 2012. The Festa album, with 13 songs has a level of energy that is off the chart in terms of the lively atmosphere in which they cross blend influences ranging from world music, new age, folk, reggae, rock, and jazz. The variety of instruments is equally broad by incorporating didgeridoo, electric sitar, murchunga, guimbri, cahon, hang and tabla, with more traditional guitars, keyboards, vocals, violin, trumpet and percussion.

The international ethnic tradition of the group Tribali is a great way to revel any time, any place, and any day. There is even discussion in local Malta newspapers and among their fan base about the group Tribali representing Malta during the annual worldwide Eurovision Song Contest. With Tribali’s loyal fan support, and intense blend of lively World Fusion and traditional Maltase music, I am among those who believe Tribali’s festive music can indeed give the rest of the world a good reason to celebrate.

The Traveller By Tribali is another excellent new album due for release in 2012. Currently available in Malta, The Traveller will be available worldwide later this year in September 24, 2012. The Traveller is another exotic blend of 13 festive songs by Tribali you can sample right now prior to release at Amazon. Everyone will have their favorite song on the album naturally, but I really like the songs Rickshaw Ride & Yamasai.

Visit TribaliMusic.com and purchase Festa by Tribali at Amazon.com. The Tribali Concert video below displays the excitement Tribali generates during their live shows. Cover artwork courtesy Daniel & Reuben (Kuluri).

Mickey Hart - Grateful DeadMusic Review: Mysterium Tremendum by Mickey Hart Band.

Legendary Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart may be recognized most for his progressive music as drummer with American rock icon, Grateful Dead band, but as everyone knows, time and the universe itself advance forward like clockwork. It’s no surprise superstar Mickey Hart has made progressive advancements of his own. In this case, it is more of an intergalactic leap!

The significance of Mickey Hart’s role as a Grateful Dead percussionist makes its presence known on his new 2012 album Mysterium Tremendum by his group, the Mickey Hart Band. While some popular artists may be content taking more of a back seat role by riding out the success of an earlier career, Mickey Hart steps aboard and climbs into the pilot seat as he steers his music career, and Mickey Hart Band members in a bold new direction.

The Mickey Hart Band is an 8 member group with Mickey Hart, and selection of the best artists and vocalists he could find. Together they transmit his multiple genre project that treks into uncharted territory musically.

Upon sampling his new 2012 release Mysterium Tremendum, I can say Mickey Hart clearly has selected a rare and talented group to make this flight. Like a man on a mission, his selection was based on those artists who he felt possess the precise aptitude needed to communicate the full depth of a majestic experiment in sound. And it truly is a soulful new direction on the exploratory album Mysterium Tremendum, which also includes the illustrious Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter.

To call Mysterium Tremendum simply an adventurous album would be an understatement, and downright disrespectful. Daring is a more suitable word. Recorded at Mickey Hart’s Studio X in California, Mysterium Tremendum is innovative in many ways, and unlike anything you have previously heard.

Unequaled by a divergent fusion of popular music genres, World Music best defines the improvisational jam band combination of great instrumentals, vocals, and profusion of original percussion elements.

On this new 2012 release Mickey Hart has selected a rare and brilliant group who he felt possess the precise aptitude needed to interconnect, and then communicate the complete depth of this grand experiment in sound.

The artists had to be special knowing Mysterium Tremendum follows up in linage to his GRAMMY® Award-Winning album, Global Drum Project from 2007.

Never content with merely composing and performing music, the 3 time GRAMMY® Award-Winning Mickey Hart has become more attune to a scientist by researching the primordial origins, history, and cultural aspects of music. It is on this album his research taps into light waves of the universe to the beginning point of time and space, transforming light waves into sound waves using researched scientific data.

This may sound like science fiction, but in fact, real-life scientific data was utilized, thus becomes an integral component of Mickey Hart’s music composition that revolves around many music genres but touches down in the World Music category.

Something I noticed right away was the pronounced cinematic qualities on many of the ambient, vocal and world percussion backed songs, so it’s easy to imagine Mysterium Tremendum being used in a Science fiction film score. These songs are Heartbeat of the Sun, Who Stole The Show, Djinn Djinn, Ticket to Nowhere & Through Endless Skies.

You will find that even the popular crossover songs with lyricized vocals, you are sure to love have cinematic qualities involving various movie genres too like songs Slow Joe Rain, Cut the Deck, Starlight and Starbright, This One Hour, Supersonic Vision, Time Never Ends & Let There Be Light.

Currently the 8 member Mickey Hart Band is on traveling the country on their “Above The Clouds Concert Tour” which is garnering excellent concert reviews. One point to clarify however, on the Mysterium Tremendum album release, a number of special guest artists join the Mickey Hart Band to complete the symphonic landscape. Clearly Mickey Hart has left no stone unturned in the launch of his innovative sound experiment with his new band, and special guest artists.

The music of Grateful Dead is an inherently colorful stripe woven into the fabric of American music culture, as every Deadhead fan will vehemently attest. Never content to take a backseat role with his earlier success, Mickey Hart is clearly in the pilot’s seat with both hands placed firmly on the controls while navigating the spirit of Grateful Dead in a new direction. Hang on and enjoy the ride!

Album Credits: The 8 member Mickey Hart Band consists of Mickey Hart, Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, Grammy winning percussionist and longtime band mate Sikiru Adepoju, Tony Award winning vocalist Crystal Monee Hall, TSO vocalist Tim Hockenberry, drummer Ian “Inx” Herman, guitarist Gawain Matthews, keyboardist and producer Ben Yonas. Special guest artists joining the Mickey Hart Band during select tracks on Mysterium Tremendum are Steve Kimock, Reed Mathis, and longtime collaborators, Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

Visit MickeyHart.net homepage and sample or purchase Mysterium Tremendum, other albums, and check out the Mickey Hart Band’s live concert tour shows schedule and my Mickey Hart Band pages. Photos are courtesy mickeyhart.net.

Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria is a 54th GRAMMY® Awards Nominee in the Best New Age Album category this year, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. Nominated for his Gaia album, Michael is also a new age artist with a continuous mission.

For the past 30 years as an integrative psychotherapist, Michael has committed much of his life helping people resolve their personal issues.

Bindu is the brand new 2012 release from Michael Brant DeMaria, who is a top ranked new age artist in his own right. The first release in his Ontos Healing Sound Project is The River, which led to his GRAMMY® Nominated healing/meditation release Ocean.

Remaining the number 1 album for 3 months on Zone Music Reporter’s top 100 monthly charts, Ocean ended the year 2009 achieving ZMR’s Best Ambient & Best Relaxation Album Awards.

GRAMMY® Nominated in 2012, Gaia has a graceful vibrancy that gently renews the inner spirit. Gaia is comparable to The River & Ocean, but the innovative world music inspirations found in Gaia heighten the emotional sensations of calm, and ascertains our undeniable connection with planet earth. Many may remember in 2010, Gaia achieved Album Of The Year & Best World Album in Zone Music Reporter’s Music Awards.

Bindu is a wellness driven musical experience from the directive of four time GRAMMY® Nominee Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria, who is conceivably the most accomplished artist in the field of relaxation/meditation music today.

Fourth in his popular Healing Sound Project, the serenity of Michael’s performance on Bindu reaches the pinnacle of healing music, this time turning his focus inward on the identity of oneself, and the identity of one another.

Michael Brant DeMaria as a professional caregiver has supported others by guiding them through some of life’s most challenging situations. And so by this directive, Michael transforms his capacities as a healthcare professional into therapeutic music designed to help people manage life’s challenges.

Bindu is another exceptional new album with award winning potential, but only time will tell if Bindu will secure his fifth nomination in 2013, and if Gaia will achieve GRAMMY® Award status in 2012.

Michael’s firsthand experience as both a professional caregiver and top award nominee in 2012 has placed him in a unique position by becoming a benefactor on one hand, and a potential beneficiary on another.

Visit ontos.com homepage and sample or purchase at his music store page or Amazon.com page. Read our interview and album reviews on my page dedicated to Michael Brant DeMaria. Photo images courtesy Michael Brant DeMaria.

Spectrum by Hennie Bekker is one of the best relaxation albums I have heard so far from the award winning artist who has entertained multitudes of people over the course of several decades. Hennie Bekker from Canada, who was born and raised in Africa and lived in England, brings an entire world of experience to his music, and believe me it shows on his newest release.

An Anthology Of Relaxing Instrumental Music is the subtitle of his Spectrum album, which I found to be an wide assortment of melodic songs pointing to the diverse abilities of a truly world-class musician. The entire life work, credits and achievements of Hennie Bekker could easily fill the page of this article alone, but I can briefly say the review of his life work is very impressive.

Hennie Bekker is a multi-platinum musician who has spent his entire music career exploring a wide array of genres, from new age, electronic, instrumental, world music, and practically everything in-between. His nature inspired soundscape designer albums in the Kaleidoscopes, African Tapestries & Hennie Bekker’s Tranquility series are fine examples of his ever increasing variation in style, as is his highly acclaimed work with Dan Gibson’s Solitudes – Exploring Nature with Music series. Their Solitudes series was so popular the releases reached gold, platinum, double and triple platinum status.

Hennie Bekker chose another new direction by becoming a leading member of the techno/dance 3 member group BKS. The group BKS ended up winning a prestigious Juno Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), which is equivalent to an American GRAMMY® Award. Film scores and recordings for television and radio can also be included in his growing list of lifetime achievements.

Spectrum is a relaxing album highlighting the entire range and variety of this artist who has composed and produced over 60 albums to date, along with his compositional arrangements and collaborations that number well over a thousand. In a way Spectrum can be considered a “Best of Hennie Bekker Album” since of the 14 songs total, eleven of these songs are recordings selected from his finest music collection to date.

I couldn’t help but think that it would be worth a minute of your time to check out the world-class music Hennie Bekker has spent his entire lifetime perfecting. Visit henniebekker.com to sample or purchase Spectrum, or visit his amazon.com page. Photos are courtesy henniebekker.com.

AOMusic has a beautiful World Fusion music release after their up-and-coming albums Twirl & Grow Wild which share the identical trait of being lively, world-beat music rhythms you are sure to love. To me, what makes AOMusic special, aside from the beautiful melodies, are the central performers themselves knowing every artist is a veteran music professional.

AOMusic’s new release is enthusiastically titled – and Love Rages On! If the colorful album cover and title doesn’t immediately catch your attention, the 9 brilliant songs that integrate World Fusion music with inspiring children’s choir will. Already familiar with AOMusic, I am excited to tell you all about this special group!

Richard Gannaway, Jay Oliver, and Miriam Stockly are the leading artists in AOMusic. Between the three artist’s careers, they have worked with popular music celebrities like; Sheryl Crow, The Eagles, Joe Walsh, Queen, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Chaka Khan, Jimmy Buffett, Celine Dion, Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, David Arkenstone and Mike Oldfield. Believe it or not this all-star music celebrity lineup is a partial list, but it gives you a pretty good idea about the high level of quality these artists are recognized for. And there is much more!

AOMusic shares a genuine message of unity with – and Love Rages On! – It is on this release where ethnic harmonies of children’s choirs from four continents are united with superb world music rhythms and contemporary instrumentals.

Founding artist Richard Gannaway also sings vocals and plays stringed instruments. Jay Oliver performs keyboards and synthesizers. Miriam Stockley, who is a key member, sings vocals on this release after joining Richard Gannaway and Jay Oliver during the time of their second album Grow Wild which went Top 5 on Zone Music Reporter’s Top 100 airplay chart.

And Love Rages On! – is a colorful and vibrant album that will make your heart soar! AO Music takes intricate World Music rhythms and beautiful choir music to the highest level. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if AOMusic – and Love Rages On! – is the recipient of one or more “Best Album of the Year Awards for 2011” when review publicists and music sites announce their best album awards at the beginning of 2012.

You will recognize the beauty of this release even more if you are familiar with lead vocalist Miriam Stockley, who makes a grand impression on Adiemus releases. Miriam Stockley ascertains herself an amazing talent with AO Music.  Other essential members in – and Love Rages On! -  are Sandeep Chowta who plays Indian flute tracks, and regular contributing artists Andy Georges (strings), George Bernardo (percussion), and Doug Lunn (bass guitar).

AOMusic and its central performers contribute more than a slogan of international unity in their music, having been involved with the projects AOMUSIC 4 HAITI campaign, the global benefit Project Peace On Earth, and the Beijing Olympic Committee by composing the theme music for the 2008 Summer Olympiad.

And Love Rages On! – Genuinely support their values while beautifully communicating their “One People, One World” perspective of solidarity, which couldn’t be more appropriate given the current social issues experienced worldwide. In terms of the unifying harmonies you will hear on their release, I believe you will find enough inspiration to go around it will make the whole world sing!

The children and boys choirs featured on this release are; CRC Children’s Choir (Beijing, P.R.C.), Martve Boys’ Choir (Tbilisi, Peoples Republic of Georgia), Bishop Bavin St. George’s Children’s Choir (Johannesburg, South Africa), Bishop Bavin St. George’s Children’s Choir (Johannesburg, South Africa), Chorus of Light (Orlando, FL), and Rainbow Mountain Children’s School (Asheville, NC).

Visit the aomusic.com homepage. There is a 10% donation on all music downloads at the AOMUSIC 4 HAITI campaign. Find more on my page for AOMusic. Photos are courtesy aomusic.com.

Japan Relief Fund mp3 by the Pangean Orchestra.

The Pangean Orchestra and CD Baby are teaming up to raise money for disaster relief in Japan.  Millions of people overwhelmed by the earthquakes and resulting tsunami remain desperately in need of our assistance, and people of goodwill are responding.  With the ongoing crisis in Japan, help often arrives in many forms and in this case, total revenue for disaster relief in the form of free music is a trusted source for your donation.

The Red Cross Earthquake/Pacific Tsunami Fund will receive 100% of the direct proceeds from sales of a free mp3 single released by the Pangean Orchestra, which is based in Phoenix, Arizona.  The director of the Pangean Orchestra is music professional Colin O’Donohoe, who leads the group of instrumentalist from nearly every continent.

Tinsagu Nu Hana – Japan Relief is the name of their free mp3 music.  The sample I listened to on CD Baby is sung in Japanese by a tenor vocalist, and is comprised of upbeat contemporary instrumentals.  Most importantly, your music purchase will make you feel great knowing you helped provide 100% direct funds for people who need our assistance during this ongoing crisis.  Thanks to the Pangean Orchestra and CD Baby.

Visit CDBaby.com to sample/make your music purchase donation, and then visit the pangeanorchestra.com and donohoemusic.com.  You can also read the interview I had with Colin on our pages dedicated to Colin O’Donohoe.

Planet Earth from the beginning was destined to be one of our greatest mysteries, where every life form and those yet to be discovered remain more dependent on our mysterious world rather than this blue planet would ever depend on us. Simply put, we know Earth can survive without us, and in fact our present day endeavors to save the world is a statement equivalent to saying hey everyone, let’s save ourselves!

Michael Brant DeMaria, PH.D, is a clinical psychologist, lecturer, and award winning musician from Florida with a revitalizing new concept album honoring our shared heritage with the Earth by the World influences in Gaia, an innovative and exceptional brand new release in his widely acclaimed Ontos Healing Sound Project.

Gaia is essentially the achievement of over 25 years in personal and professional research by Michael into the fundamental principles of auditory healing techniques. His New Age Ambient release The River began the first origins of the Ontos Healing Sound Project while leading to the Healing & Meditation release Ocean, which remained at number 1 for 3 months on the monthly charts then having ended the year 2009 with ZMR’s Best Ambient & Best Relaxation Album Awards.

Ocean and was first conceived to help hurricane survivors begin anew and return to a more peaceful existence, but then after the 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster, Ocean became a second symbol of recovery since Michael donated his time performing concerts around the Gulf Coast Region, along with donating a portion of sales proceeds for the still ongoing wildlife recovery. I was pleased to learn Ocean is under consideration for a 2010 New Age Grammy Nomination.

Gaia is a serene excursion into the Ontos Healing Sound Project by directive of Michael Brant DeMaria. Therapeutic by a graceful vibrancy that effectively renews the inner spirit akin to The River & Ocean; the innovative world music inspirations found in Gaia heighten these emotive sensations of calm and well-being while ascertaining our undeniable relationship with planet earth.

Siyotanka is the story based narrative and soundtrack score that secured a Native American Music Award ( NAMA ) in the Native Heart category, and then lead to his Grammy Nomination for Best Native American Music Album, along with winning the Best Native American Album at year ending ZMR Music Awards for 2009.

Gaia has every hallmark for success since nearly every album produced by Michael Brant DeMaria has earned awards and respect from those in the music industry, and rightly so. Michael’s music, books, art, and poetry have acquired recognition in the United States along with widespread international acceptance in Australia, Europe, and Russia, having touched many lives with his universal message.

Third in the Ontos Healing Sound Project Gaia is based in part on the Greek Goddess Gaia, along with esteemed Earth Scientist Dr. James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, whose research studies involving planetary exploration while at NASA led to his famous Gaia Hypothesis which interprets the Earth we share as one cohesive single living organism.

Gaia ( Title Song ) is the musical genesis of 14 tonal poetries and sound prayers traversing many nations and cultures, opening with a lighter piano melody, where World and Native American wood flutes in amended resonance on every song begin their ethnic exploration and develops into a wonderful first prelude to the ever changing stages in this moving expedition.

Anima Mundi tells of an emergent period and where Michael uses his voice as a human instrument to speak for the ancestors of our past. The surreal Alchera features Australian ( didgeridoo ) ever present wood flute instrumentals and vocal exhalations to denote the Earth as a single living entity of magnificent beauty.

Asase Yaa, with fine qualities of African rhythms and Amazonia, with South America textures are together moderate in rhythm, having unifying world flute instruments and percussions in each melody, even during the deep and mystical atmosphere of Ja’neba. The silk road to China is traversed by highly symbolic gong strikes in Xiaolin, along with Chinese flute ( Xiao ) in akin song Kuan Yin with traditional (Yueqin ) strings instrument dramatizing the orient with vibrancy.

Gentle imprints of Japan are represented by bamboo flute ( Shakuhachi ) and the gentle breeziness of wind chimes leave fine impressions in Zazen & Tarani, likewise revealing Michael’s fine transition in World music personified on Gaia, along with the notion that our enduring heritage of dependency we share with planet Earth will always be just a simple fact of life.

Visit ontos.org to sample / purchase or visit his CDBaby.com page or major music outlets. Visit michaeldemaria.com blog and read a recent in-depth interview with Michael and I, and my album reviews of his award-winning music on my pages dedicated to Michael Brant DeMaria. Picture copyright Big Stock Photo – Shutter.

The Chicago World Music Festival 2010 is just concluding their annual city wide venue regularly hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and since the inception in 1999, has entertained over a half million visitors by traditional and contemporary music concerts performed live by music professionals spanning the globe.

Riad Abdel-Gawad is a violinist just concluding his performances with his ensemble at the Clarke House Museum & South Shore Cultural Center during this international multi cultural event which over the years has had representation of seventy five countries.

His concert appearances during the Chicago World Music Festival were held just recently in September 2010 and in addition, Riad Abdel-Gawad has extensively toured the U.S. this year with his ensemble from Cairo Egypt.  The newly released Egypt: Mother of the World was designed to coincide with his U.S. ensemble tour and the numerous venues where people have had a chance to hear his multi cultural music during live performances.

Riad Abdel-Gawad is a Southern California resident and Harvard graduate with a PH.D in Musical Composition, also a University of Southern California and University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music graduate.  When his educational and Western classical influences are joined with his Middle Eastern ensemble the equation becomes a wonderful cross section of music that blends into a much broader World music influence.  Also having toured many countries as a violinist, in addition to a large presence in online radio programming, his recognition has nicely reached an international audience.

Egypt: Mother of the World is his 2010 Middle Eastern, World, New Age, Contemporary release featuring four additional musical talents comprising his ensemble. Egyptian born Riad Abdel-Gawad had wrote the original compositions and all musicians are highly recognized artists in Middle Eastern music and perform on traditional ethnic instruments so the listener is greatly rewarded with colorful and authentic works of beauty.

The professional musicians playing on this album include Yousri Abdel-Maqsoud on percussion, drums, bongos, duff, riqq  ( tambourine )  Saber Abdel-Sattar  qanun ( plucked dulcimer )  Hesham Makarem oudist  oud ( lute )  and Mohamed Foda ( Fouda ) nayist ( bamboo flute )  The physical CD includes a large colorful 16 page foldout booklet describing the meaning and inspiration for each piece and makes a nice bonus.

Egypt: Mother of the World is an excellent introduction for those less familiar with Middle Eastern music and for those coinsurers, the album is an unrivaled work of art given by some great talents.  Riad performs on a violin tuned several tones lower keeping with traditional Middle Eastern standards and this tuning in tonal pitch does make the recognizable variations from Western music clear.

The quality of this professional ensemble and their authentic style of music can be felt from the first of fifteen songs that truly does deliver a wonderful atmosphere while becoming a global festival and lively cultural event in World music.

Visit the musicariad.com website to sample / purchase or visit his Amazon.com page and most major music retailers.

Would you like to travel the entire world someday? When traveling as a tourist do you enjoy visualizing the new and unique cultural destinations to visit, along with the sights, sounds and experiences?

For persons who are not frequent globetrotters having neither time nor opportunity to travel the world firsthand, an excursion awaits you by listening to many distant exotic lands through a musical journey that will definitely fit your schedule and budget.

The international flavor of musician, composer, and conductor Colin O’Donohoe is your ticket for world music influences.

Colin’s most recent album Songs of the Saints released in 2007 on the Ocean Media label, is inspired by music native to Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and also includes musical varieties of North and South America which makes your travel by sound itinerary complete. Much like his Songs of the Saints album, the Pangean Orchesra that he directs perform music having a wide varity of influence and musicians from all parts of the globe.

The instruments and vocals used in the Songs of the Saints album is as diverse as the music, exploring many geographical destinations on the 10 individual songs.

One explanation for Colin O’Donohoe’s choice of using a fusion of world music influences might be his self described inspiration being drawn from reading a Chinese book of poetry titled Shi Jing. Another explanation could be his current position as Artistic Director of the Pangean Orchestra or other held positions as director of the New Moon Orchestra, and Phoenix Chinese Orchestra.

Colin O’Donohoe openly admits that his music and technique is challenging for some people to embrace, by offering such a wide range of influences that almost creates a new music genre. Songs of the Saints has genres ranging from international, world, jazz, easy listening, light rock, and slight touches of rap and hip hop, even having a light jazz title track version of the song Amazing Grace.

Colin O’Donohoe openly admits that his music and technique is challenging for some people to embrace, by offering such a wide range of influences that he almost creates a new music genre, which I did find correct, but appreciative by his blending of pleasant vocals, chorals, and harmony of music spanning the globe.

The album has genres ranging from international, world, jazz, easy listening, light rock, and slight touches of rap and hip hop, even having a light jazz title track version of the song Amazing Grace.

While visiting Pangeanorchestra.com to learn more about Colin O ‘Donohoe, I did learn he is committed to this unique style of music. I also learned he is a kindred soul with a mission in life to unite and bring people of the world closer together through the common bond of music.

This is something peaceful tourists traveling around the world will appreciate.

Visit the PangeanOrchestra.com website and Colin’s DonohoeMusic.com website. Sample at  his CDBaby.com page. Picture copyright BigStockPhoto.com – jgroup.

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