It is the special alchemy between Michael and Jenny that helps transmute the raw substance of our painful lives into gold and creates a space of sanctuary. Sanctuary, the new collaborative recording by Jenny Bird and Michael Mandrell, offers a bounty of such life-changing musical treasures. As the title suggests, this is a record about solace, safety and holiness. The CD was recorded on solar power in Taos, NM. by Omar Rane. Our dear musical companions Dave Bryant, Page Williams, Adrienne Braswell, Kevin Mulligan, Ed Caner, and engineer extraordinaire Omar Rane played beautifully along with us. Tracy Turner, painted the stunning cover art. Holding Each Other Up A review of SANCTUARY by Mirabai Starr* A new CD by Jenny Bird and Michael Mandrell There are probably a handful of songs we could each name that have changed our lives, or at least enriched them. While inspired by the wisdom teachings of the world's spiritual traditions, however, it is not religious music. It is music that celebrates the sacred as we discover it in the midst of our daily lives. It is about the sanctuary we find inside ourselves along our individual paths of healing and awakening and between each other in community. Jenny Bird, long beloved by the Taos community and all over the world, continues to deepen and grow as a singer-songwriter. This is her ninth recording over a career that spans twenty years. The song Hold up Each Other reflects Jenny's maturity and passion. It is a song grounded in the suffering of the world yet entirely devoid of cynicism. It acknowledges that sometimes events occur that bring us to our knees and that our only hope is to extend our hands to each other in our brokenness and bear witness to transformational power of our shattering. The strings part in Hold up Each Other, composed and performed by Ed Caner, is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Adrienne Braswell and Kevin Mulligan, gifted singer-songwriters in their own right, add exquisite harmony vocals to several of Jenny's songs. Dave Bryant, currently on tour with Otmar Leibert, plays percussion on his hand-built drum. Page Williams, bass player from the historic Birdband, contributes his fresh warm tones to the rich tapestry of this collection. Jenny's version of the Saint Teresa Prayer takes the timeless words, in both Spanish and English, of the famous sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, and creates a haunting mantra of hope in the face of despair. Jenny has truly captured the ancient spirit of contemplative prayer in this piece. Listeners report playing that song over and over again, feeling profoundly fed and comforted by the music and the message. Michael's instrumental guitar pieces are equally powerful tools of transformation. His music ranges from exuberant and joyful to lilting, melting, otherworldly. The listener can picture Michael's long fingers leaping over the frets and the strings in a seemingly effortless dance. Jenny's free-form vocal accompaniment to two of Michael's songs reveals a glimpse of the wordless intimacy between these two great musicians. Audiences have been reveling in the magic of the Jenny Bird-Michael Mandrell collaboration for ten years on stage. This is their first joint recording. Both musicians play guitars lovingly hand-built by Tony Sutherland. It is worth noting that Sanctuary was recorded entirely "off-the-grid" in Omar Rane's solar powered Tone Palace, surrounded by the art works of the late great Bill Rane. * Mirabai Starr is a writer, translator, speaker and teacher. Author of critically acclaimed new translations of the Spanish mystics, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, Mirabai uses fresh, lyrical language to help make timeless wisdom teachings accessible to a contemporary circle of seekers . She is a professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and a certified grief counselor. Mirabai's new translation of 'Teresa of Avila: The Book of my Life' (book and audiobook) is forthcoming from Shambhala Publications, Spring 2007.
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