NEWLY released song forgive me my showed the immense talent of Gantavya (above). The New York-based vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer offered up an immersive musical moment filled with emotion and grace. Eastern Eye delved deeper by getting the terrific talent to share 10 songs she loves.
Telilit by Les Filles de Illighadad: The most familiar sound to me. Perhaps the most perfect recording I’ve ever heard. Women, singing together, outside. Somewhere in the album, you can hear a Bluetooth speaker going off. It breaks no trance and just draws us into the beauty that already is.
Formwela 4 by Esperanza Spalding (Irma Nejando): Great lyrics. My sister, friend, and teacher Irma’s song. Auntie Bonnie made us a most luscious dinner while Corey and Irma recorded this so gently on the doorstep of uncle Wesley’s house. A prayer, an incantation, a masterclass in songwriting.
Rise by Jahnavi Harrison and Willow: I guess I have a thing for the sound of women singing together. Here, praying together. Jahnavi has become like a long lost sister, a co-witness and co-student in what life has to show us, and in a different way. So has Willow. I love them both. I love having gotten to know them, and love singing this song.
Nterini by Fatoumata Diawara: When I first started playing (her) bass and my language failed me in trying to express the relief passing through my body, Irma sent me a quote by A Laurie Palmer: ‘Antidote to emptiness, this heavy thing that allows us to fly up…’ To me, this is Fatoumata Diawara’s voice.
Nit Khair Manga by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: I am courted by divinity the mornings I listen to this song in the preciousness of the inner mind, so private I almost tremble to share its significance so openly. Every time you sing it, your family appears near you. Thousands of them. Sing it with your whole heart, and I promise, they appear. And there, in that moment, comes God.
Katie Cruel, by Karen Dalton: ‘If I was where I would be, then I would be where I am not, here I am where I must be, where I would be, I cannot’. These are the songs I listen to inside my heart when I am on long walks, songs that keep walking with you with lessons as old as thought. Karen Dalton’s voice is the sound of the earth opening.
Eleggua (intro) by Ibeyi: It’s hard to write publicly why this song speaks to me this morning, as the sun rises in California. What perhaps I can say is that no matter what corner of the world we come from, the stories we share, the songs we learn, perhaps they teach us the same old truths.
Plastic Bag by Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd: Multiplicity, the ability to see the innumerable threads make reality with compassion and complete understanding radiating out for each one of them. This is what Bob Thurman describes as Buddha’s nirvana. At once listening to the piano walk, us as a body might move on pilgrimage and be able to follow the voice’s thoughts, as a mind might wander during long pilgrimage walks: two entities living in one. This song reminds me of it all.
Bone and Soil by Chelsea Carmichael: I didn’t mean to pick songs that all called on the human voice to make them. Here’s a song that speaks across rivers, mountains, and skies, but without the sound of a human voice. Here’s a song that speaks to me clearer than most of all uttered speech.
Ocean by Sheila Chandra: She just released this previously unreleased track. You must understand that Sheila Chandra has Burning Mouth syndrome, where she can no longer sing or speak. Ever So Lonely is a song many of us have loved for a long time, and here she shares a song that sounds like it could have been made yesterday, but she recorded it in the early 1980s.