Saturday, January 29, 2011

What would this project be without community?
I want to profile some people that have been unbelievable gifts to me in this process - and whom without I would not be where I am today.

I've been dreaming about this CD project for 2 and 1/2 years now.  When I realized I would have to raise the funds for this, I was pretty overwhelmed and didn't know what to do.  I decided to call on 3 friends to meet with me.  They were to tell me if I was completely crazy and I should end the dream right there - or if I should take some steps towards the project.  These friends were Evy Klassen, Heather Maddox and Bev Holmes.  These 3 women were fantastic.  They were blunt, honest and straightforward.  They said, 'you are not crazy' here is what you need to do.
We made a plan of communicating the dream to my community and planning 3 concerts for the fall.  Bev hosted the Mission concert, Heather helped me by forcing me with vision statements and letters, Evy and I talked almost every day and she constantly encouraged me to not give up.
I formed a 'fellowship' of people that created a wider circle.  These people offered notes and words of encouragement, many of which I posted in my office to read on my 'bad' days.
I stepped out with the three concerts.  Kevin Boese was an incredible support for these 3 shows, supporting me on his guitar and great musicianship.  Boris Sichon helped me with song arrangements and brought an element of theatre and entertainment with his participation in the 2nd and 3rd shows...playing everything from the bones to the beautiful duduk.   Jon and Joleen VanDykle joined us as well for the 2nd and 3rd shows with great vocals, bass, and piano accompaniment.  Joanne Abraham and Theo Loewen joined us on the 3rd with extra percussion and sound help.  We had so much fun together and connected with so many great people from the community.
I realized through all the communication and concerts that this CD project was 'about' community - me connecting with a larger circle and not just doing something on my own.  This music is about 'us'.  This music is about our shared humanity - our struggles, our longings, our hopes.
Having to reach out and ask for help and support, even though it was incredibly hard and humbling, ended up being such a great gift.

Some other names...
my cool dog park friends that offer friendship and support - Craig, Laurie, Dave, Darrell, Robin, David, Lia, Leah, Anne and others that I can't remember names at this writing :-)
Nik - more about this amazing woman in another blog!
Kelley - who has listened to lots of 'rough drafts'
Lorie, Eden, Joyce K (who baked like mad for Abby concert), Elsie (hosted Chilliwack concert)
Kendra - who gave the first pre-order on-line and has encouraged me so much!!!
and many many others.....

Love you people!!!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

             Photograph by Revival Arts

      Love Shines Song Stories #7
This past summer I was on Pender Island when the phone call came that the whales were coming.  There is a phone chain thing that happens on Pender when whales are spotted coming around the island on the east side.  Then the word gets spread and everyone makes a dash to this special spot on the west side where the whales come very close to the shore.  We all felt like kids as we dropped what we were doing and dashed to the vehicle, drove like crazy, ran out to the shore and then waited with the rest of the community.  It was such a fun atmosphere with old and young filled with anticipation together.  After around 20 minutes, the cry came - 'there they are'.  We enjoyed a wonderful show especially when a baby whale kept leaping over and over again.  A sense of wonder came over all of us, touching the beauty of nature.  I often feel this way as I look at the night sky, spend time in the woods or feel the strength of a powerful storm.  The day with the whales was especially inspiring and the day I started working on this song, I Sing With the Earth.  

I sing with the earth
I sing with the sky
I sing with the whales as they sail by
I sing with the trees
I sing with the dawn
I sing with the stars all night long

Creator God who gives me life - you call my name
Creator God  who I can't see - you call my name

I sing with the earth
from mountains on high
in valleys below this glorious sky
I sing with the birds
I sing with the sea
I sing with the sun shining on me

excerpt from I Sing with the Earth - from Love Shines CD

As I was preparing for recording, I came across a Hebrew prayer phrase;
Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh Adonai, Tzva'ot. 
It intrigued me and I looked up what it was about and ended up having this great connection with a Rabbi in Vancouver who helped me understand the vastness of these words.  (Rabbi David Mivasair) These are the words of the prophet Isaiah as he is 'undone' in the presence of the Holy.  (Is. 6)  These words are his response..... and (in very simple terms-as Rabbi David and I talked for a very long time about these words!) convey that the whole world is filled with the glory of God.  This is what I also feel when I am outside and in nature and what the heart of this song is about.  
I have incorporated these Hebrew words into this song and had so much connected with an ancient language as I sang.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Love Shines CD Stories
Working with Philip Janz

There are people in your life that you realize are huge gifts.  People that push you to fulfill your potential - not 60%, not 80% but drive you to your 110%. Philip has been that for me with this recording - pushing me, driving me, expecting the best that I can be and can give to this creative project. This is exciting and also at times exhausting. However, I am so grateful. There are not many people that I can count in my life that do this for me
and so again I become a student, a learner, and realize I have been given an opportunity to grow and develop.

Philip has huge musical talent. He is an amazing pianist, drummer, vocalist as well as being one who records, produces, mixes and engineers a complete project from A-Z.  As the producer, he must have the big picture in mind at all times as well as a zealous determination for the smallest detail. Philip is able to hold both of these aspects at the same time and brings his passion to both the overall vision and the miniscule detail.
However,  I think the greatest gift Philip brings is his ability to listen to the heart of the musician and honour the story they are bringing into their work. It would be easy to impose his own ideas, creativity, and plans into another persons work as he is so incredibly gifted and creative. And he DOES offer his ideas and suggestions and critique in a very open way. However, Philip offers this with kindness and with great respect for the love of creating the best in what the musician has offered.
I am very grateful for this recording process! The past 8 days have been intense vocal days and I'm heading into the last session tonight. They have been some of the best days of my life.
Philip - thank you.
(Photographs by Revival Arts

my brother, Randy Friesen, made this video of me and Philip working together this past Saturday - ENJOY!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Song Stories #6
Love Shines CD

Joy is coming

In this video you get a picture into the studio on Friday night when Boris and Philip were going at it working on a whole range of songs. I joined them for a bit of wine and sushi! In this video they are working on the tune, Joy is Coming.
Boris Sichon has been a huge part of this album. He has listened to all the songs and offered so much wonderful feedback and input. He is an amazing musician that has travelled the world and learned from many musical masters. His talent and expertise is a treasure that I deeply value. But more than that, Boris has believed in these songs and helped me to follow my heart with this dream of Love Shines.

This song is the most recent song that has been written for this album. It is simple and reminds me of the time I spent in Africa in my early 20s where i enjoyed beautiful rhythms. I wrote this in December at the beginning of Advent.... Advent reminds me of all the things we are waiting for, longing for and that we hope for. Underneath our waiting, I've become aware of a deep sense of joy. Joy is coming and joy we can taste even now if we pay attention. So, it was with a lot of joy and hope that this song got recorded - and a lot of fun!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Love Shines
Song Stories #5
Sing a Song

Many people in the Lower Mainland have been aware in the past few weeks of the sudden death of Myron Berg due to the traffic accident that happened just after Christmas. I knew Myron from working at House of James Bookstore over 20 years ago. We worked together for one year - he was the 'cool' guy in the music department. Then about 4 years ago, we reconnected when I started teaching 3 of his children music lessons; Lauren, Bryn and Taeryn. I got to know Gillian and the whole family for around 2 years and enjoyed quite a few musical events together.
I wasn't going to put this song, Sing a Song, on the album but then two things happened - one was celebrating the 18th birthday of Christian Friesen on January 14, my nephew who died last March and being aware of the Berg family as they mourn the passing of Myron. (funeral for Myron tomorrow, Jan 21) I realized again that so many of us experience death as a part of the life we are living now. We are all holding someone in our hearts that has passed one. I sang the song for Philip as a last minute possibility and he said YES - let's do it.
When another nephew, Trevor Dueck, died 3 years ago, I created a Service of Remembrance ...a musical evening to help us honour and remember loved ones who have died. On the 2nd year of this concert, when I was cleaning up after that evening, the reality of my own passing became more clear. That night I could not sleep and wrote these words, only to sing them before 1500 people a few months later when Chris died. I also sang them at a Haiti Memorial Fundraiser concert after the earthquake.

As I recorded the song today , my heart went out to the Berg family as they release Myron and love him. My heart sings for Chris, my beloved brother Randy and his wife Ingrid and their son Max who are journeying through this grief.

These words are now part of the Love Shines CD project.....
here is an excerpt:

excerpt from
Sing A Song....
sometimes I think about that day
when I'll have wings and fly away
to a place I've never been
never known, never seen

It is a mystery, this life
one day I'm here and then I'm gone
and when that day, it comes for me
I ask that you would sing a song......

sing a song from your heart
through the veil from which I've part
sing a song that is true
and I'll sing ....back to you....

excerpt from Sing a Song from the upcoming Love Shines CD

Monday, January 17, 2011

Song Stories #4

Hope of My Dreams

(The Mountains Call)

I am captivated by the mountains.
I am captivated by sky.
I am captivated by eagles soaring
over my head as I walk in the open field behind Heritage Park in Mission.
I am captivated by ocean, rivers, lakes.
This song holds the sense of awe that I feel each day as I breath deeply of fresh air and take in the beauty that surrounds me.
I originally wrote this song on Bowen Island in August of 2006. It became part of the 'trust' CD recording that came out 2008. That CD was nominated for Inspirational Album of the Year by the Gospel Music Awards of Canada.
In May of 2010 I led a Taize Evening Prayer Event up at the glorious Westminster Abbey of Mission. The acoustics in that space are so delicate and wondrous. Kevin Boese played acoustic guitar and I sang this song as an opening for the evening. Today we recorded the song just like that - acoustic guitar and voice - simple, spacious, open and mystical.
Here is an excerpt of the words.....

The mountains call
out to me
and they declare
through their beauty
of One who is
beyond all things
Giver of Life
Hope of my dreams

thanks to Debbie Klassen of Chilliwack for the amazing photo!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Love Shines
Song Stories #3

Every Time
I must say I've always loved Black Gospel music. There is something about the energy of it that just makes me want to move, to dance, to shout and to laugh. A few months ago, the old melody of 'Every time I feel the Spirit' came into my mind and my toes were tapping in seconds. For weeks I could not get this tune out of my mind and body. I looked up the old tune and found the words on the internet. I loved the chorus, but the words of the verses were not ones that I could resonate with - so I decided to write my own lyrics to this wonderful melody. I've brought this song now into various settings and the response has been that people want to dance, to celebrate and to engage with the song. I'm so excited to share this new arrangement of 'Every time'....
here is an excerpt of the new lyrics...

when life's burdens
weigh down on me
when life's burdens
weigh on me
I hear a whisper
calling to me
'remember sister, you are free'

and every time I feel the Spirit
movin' in my heart
I will pray
and every time I feel the Spirit
movin' in my heart
I will pray

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Song Stories for Love Shines
Courage For Today

I love so many different genres of music. As a child I was exposed to a lot of classical music as my mom listened to CBC radio 2. Often I would lie down on the carpet and let the music wash over me as I listened deeply...even when I was 5 or 6. My parents also enjoyed a lot of 'gospel' music so I heard a lot of 4 part harmonies and traditional choral sounds. In my youth I learned to love jazz music, pop music and gained more appreciation for classical music. Through my twenties and through living in Uganda for 2 years, I was exposed to traditional folk music and ethnic sounds. I have loved learning about all these sounds and how these different genres can express so many of our human emotions and experiences better than we can with our words.
I am not a strong blues piano player, but I do love the blues and had fun learning the basic 12 bar pattern a few years ago and passing that on to many students.
A couple years ago I realized that the blues really hold a wonderful tension between major and minor tonalities and feel 'honest' about expressing what it is to be human.
This summer around a campfire at Alice Lake near Whistler, BC, my friend Kendra asked me how I was doing with grieving the loss of my dear nephew Chris. Chris died on March 25, 2010. He was a very special nephew to me - one that I could punch (even though he was MUCH stronger than me) and tease. He was passionate about life and was fun to be with. I loved him fiercely. When Kendra asked me that, I had no words.
How do you express how you feel?
Words feel cheap
and empty.
I said Kendra - I have nothing to say - but I can sing a song.
So I asked Nathan (Kendra's husband) to get his guitar and start playing the blues.....
and this is an excerpt of the song I sang

Courage for Today
My heart, my heart
is heavy
My heart is heavy with burdens
Strengthen me,
Give me courage for today

My soul, my soul
is weary
My soul is weary with sorrow
Strengthen me,
Give me courage for today

(excerpt from 'Courage for Today' to be released on Love Shines)

Chris's birthday is this Friday, January 14th. Loving you buddy!!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Song Stories for Love Shines
Song #1

I would like to share some of the stories of the songs that will be on the Love Shines CD.

I Bind My Life to Love

Several years ago I was in a personal crisis. At certain moments I wondered if I was losing my mind. I was so afraid and so anxious. I wanted to know that everything would be OK, but there were no guarantees that anything would be OK ever again. It was during this time that someone introduced me to a prayer that was inspired by the prayers of St. Patrick. Over the years, I re-wrote it in my own way using imagery that was powerful for me. In the summer of 2009, I realized I wanted to share these words with as many people as I could. These words have impacted me over and over again for over 11 years. I decided to make these words into a song I could sing and give as a gift. When I wake up in the early hours of the morning and can't sleep, these are the words that are often on the edge of my lips. These words have given me hope, energy, faith, and light. I trust the power of Love in my life and so it has become a gift to entrust my life to Love over and over again. The blessing of this has been unexpected joy and deepening peace in my daily life. I'm so excited to share this song on this album!

here is an excerpt of the lyrics:
I bind my life to Love
I bind my heart to Love
I bind my feet to the path Love has for me
I bind my life to Love

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year!!

the Love Shines Recording
is happening - starting January 7th, 2011!!
This is a dream coming true - taking about a year and a half for it all to come together.
I'm so excited to share 12 original songs
with all of you!!
Hopefully I'll have the CD ready for sale in March.
For regular updates go to:

Love is Shining!!!