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Resources for conscious living

by ChloŽ Goodchild
The search for and discovery of the naked voice within, "the real sound buried in the bones, obscured by conditioning and fear," is a metaphor for living an authentic life. Living a true, passionate and joyful life is, in itself, singing. The singing voice, together with silent contemplation, is my vehicle for Spirit. My polyphonic vocal compositions, together with the spontaneously improvised invocations from the heart, arise out of many years of vocal research and self-inquiry. The singing is accessed through the practice of gratitude, self-acceptance, and compassion. My book "The Naked Voice" (Rider 1993) describes my experience of the transformation from suffering to the unstoppable impulse to create, inspired by the changeless presence of unconditional love which continuously arises from, and returns to, its source which is silence.

From my late teens I began my travels in Europe, later to Africa and India, and more recently, the United States and Canada, in search of other seekers, singers, and communities for whom music is an essential and integral part of everyday life and self-inquiry. I derive a great deal of inspiration for my singing from the musical forms and vocal styles which I have absorbed on my travels, from the magical-instinctual (African), the mythical-hypnotic (Classical Indian) and harmonic (European) styles. Each style is like another piece of a vast vocal jigsaw of the soul.

It was India which made the most profound impact on both my spiritual life and the singing voice in my early thirties. My encounter with my spiritual master Ananda Mayi Ma, one of India's greatest woman saints (1896-1982), opened the singing voice in ways that I had never experienced. Even though I had sung all my life, I had never felt able to embody the voice so fully and to feel the presence of Spirit in every cell of my body, the movement and vibration of eros from its instinctual through to its angelic expression. Before there had always been a split between the lower and upper voice or nature.

It is inappropriate for me to align myself or my music with a specific tradition anymore. Ananda Mayi taught me to respect my own religious roots while at the same time "standing nowhere." We live in a global musical world. Spirit is everywhere. My work is to appreciate its many forms and expressions across the different religious and cultural traditions.

In one week I am being asked to sing at an international Sufi festival of music; in another I am singing at a meditation conference of Christians and Buddhists, hosted by The Dalai Lama; in another, I am singing the part of the Mother of God at the world premiere of Byzantine composer John Tavener's religious opera "Mary of Egypt" (Collins Classics Double CD); in another I am singing lead vocals and "The Voice of Earth" for Discovery Channel (USA/TV), in a two-part documentary film about the creation of the world, entitled "This Amazing Earth," together with lead vocals for the publicity film of the ecological organization Greenpeace. Recently, I was asked to sing Hindu mantras within a Christian memorial service for the Maharaj of Jaipur, in the diocese of London where my father was once an Anglican Bishop. I have also been collaborating on various jazz and pop albums with international artists who are exploring the spiritual nature of their work, such as Tim Booth, lead singer of the rock band "James," and saxophonist Ed Jones. I am presently working with the American film composer, Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks), on an album called "Mother of All Joy," inspired by an ongoing theme for me, the Divine Feminine.

The call to the Divine Feminine in all Her forms is a global calling at this time. Our ability to understand, receive, activate and generate the force of the Feminine within ourselves is of crucial significance at this time both personally and collectively, if we are to bring an end to the untold levels of ignorance which pervade human activity and generate suffering and fear across the world. Our understanding of the grace, beauty and wisdom of the Divine Feminine will enable us to reduce sorrow and pain in the world, replacing it with harmony and justice and compassion. I can hear echoes of the archetypal voices of the Great Mother in my voice: the power of the Goddess Shakti, the passions of Aphrodite, the stillness and nourishing compassion of the Buddhist Tara, the ferocity, terror and awesome radiance of Kali, the angelic qualities of Mary the Virgin, and the eros and dark mystery of the Black Madonna. Sung invocation of these expressions of the Feminine enables both singer and listener to share the deepest human feeling and to bring the power and beauty of the soul's wisdom to consciousness, to heal our personal and collective wounds, and to capture the heart with a joy previously unknown, the passion of Spirit.

My main focus is to paint musical landscapes through the voice which explore the interface between personal love and spiritual love. Sometimes words are unnecessary to communicate the theme, and I rely on vocal tones and micro-tones to convey the subtle mood changes between one musical interval and another. It is an alchemical process, similar to the rise and fall of an Indian raga. The ecstatic love poetry of Rumi provides a perfect opportunity to explore this interface. I continue to strive for increasing clarity and transparency of Spirit through the art-form of singing. This year I am exploring this sacred journey of the soul through Spirit in an album collaboration with the mystic poet Coleman Barks, translator of the ecstatic love poems of Rumi.

Chloe has produced two CD's - DEVI and SURA - and two new CDs with Coleman Banks and film composer Angela Badalamenti will be released later this year. SURA was reviewed by NAPRA as a "profoundly inspirational listening experience" and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Chloe will teach a workshop at Oregon House near Yachats on the coast May 14-16. Tel: 541 547-3329, website: for information.