Why You Should Support the Best Work Of One of the Best Musicians: Everyday Magic, Day 788

Kelley and some of the musicians she recorded with in Nashville
Kelley and some of the musicians she recorded with in Nashville

Yesterday I listened to one of the most beautiful albums in my life: Kelley Hunt’s new studio album. How did I get so lucky? Because I co-wrote some of the songs on the album, Kelley called me up and said, “Want to come over and listen to the music?” Despite being home less than a day from Goddard (when I normally won’t leave the house unless there’s a Kansas tsunami), I was out the door and on Kelley’s couch that afternoon. What I heard was what heart and soul sound like when made into music. I laughed, I cried, I hummed all the way home.

Which is why I’m writing today to encourage you to support Kelley in her indiegogo campaign. Being a musician, or just about any artist these days, ranges from dubious to impossible when it comes to making a living. Kelley and her manager/husband Al have been dancing on that edge for years, putting out powerful music in the form of five critically-acclaimed CDs and international tours from Vancouver to North Carolina and back again, both solo and with the Kelley Hunt band.

Kelley and the McCrary Sisters
Kelley and the McCrary Sisters

Now they have a new CD, freshly recorded with the likes of the amazing McCrary sisters (legendary gospel singers) singing with her, plus Tony Harrell on accordion and B3, drummer/percussionist Bryan Owings, a kick-ass horn section and many more of the top musicians in Nashville. The album is recorded and mixed, and just needs to be mastered while Kelley and Al work with artists on the cover art.

“This is the best work I’ve ever done,” Kelley told me. Those of you who know her music can only imagine since her previous best work shines long after the CD or concert is done. Here is she performing on the Legendary Blues Cruise last year, and here she is singing “My Funny Valentine.” Kelley has also played dozens of benefits, helping people in this region and beyond over the years.

So I’m writing you to invite you with all my heart to give some of your love to Kelley’s campaign — right here. For a small amount, you can get your own copy of the CD, signed, sealed and delivered. For larger amounts, there are other great perks (even a concert with Kelley in your backyard if you wish). Please support one of our best musicians doing her best art.

“I Have My Home in Two Worlds”: Coleman Barks, John Willison, Rumi, Magic Musicians and Wild Wonder: Everyday Magic, Day 744

With Coleman and John (and a very bright lamp)
With Coleman and John (and a very bright lamp)

Last night was one of the shining evenings of my life. Surrounded by lightning and thunder lighting up the stained glass windows at Unity on the Plaza, and immersed in Rumi’s poetry and all the improvisation in word and music it inspired, I was bedazzled. I’ve long felt a kinship with Coleman Barks and a deep appreciation for what he’s done to bring Rumi to the world, and I love Rumi’s poetry with a vengeance.DSCN2021

It was enough to land here with¬† Rumi performed by Coleman Barks and a trio of musicians who had never played together before on a stormy, perfect October night (while also reunited with old friends), but there was more glory. I was there with Kelley, one of my closest friends, in great part to hear John Willison, one of my Turning Point writing workshop participants. Through a phone call (thanks to John’s wife Pauline, and Coleman’s open heart), it was arranged that John would read one of his poems that evening while the musicians chimed in.

John started his reading by telling the audience that he had metastatic cancer — cancer traveled from its sight to other points in the body with little chance of turning back. His poem, written on Sunday in the workshop “Writing for Life, Love and Legacy,” speaks to what it means to live so vibrantly while knowing in each breath how mortal he is. John read the poem first without music, and then with the astonishing merging of Allaudin Ottinger on percussion, Nathaniel Caetanya Bottorff on strings, and a marvelous clarinetist. Here is his poem:

I have my home in two worlds

 

This one:

With all its wild running,

Stuffing my pockets full of pleasure.

A smile the size of a candy shop!

 

I open my closet,

My whole life pours out

In excessive sweetness.

 

Even my suffering has taken a shine.

Running my fingers over my scars,

What were once indignities

Are now a flutter in the heart…

 

I bashfully flirt with every beauty.

 

The blushing maple, there

That brushstroke of moon.

Her hand on my chest,

Light as air,DSCN2011

And just as needed.

 

It’s all an enchantment.

 

I am aware of the windows being shut at the back of the house,

The doors, propped open, closing.

But this is not to be a constraint, a prison for beggars.

 

Not a house of sorrows.

 

Yes, everything will tremble.

All will fall.

This container will topple off the shelf and shatter,

Spilling into an infinite field,

 

Where this greeting awaits:

 

Hello, darling. Welcome home.

~ John Willison

 

Brave Voice’s Round Rainbow: Everyday Magic, Day 703

IMG_0328At Brave Voice last week, we sung a new song repeatedly, a signature tune for the week:

A round rainbow is called a glory.

What you survive in life is called a story.

You only see the arc of it after the storm.

To see the whole miracle, you have to hold on.

The workaday miracle is where you belong, where you belong.

The story of how this song came to be may be a pebble in the ocean of the story of where this song is going, now that it’s inscribed in the memories and hearts of all of us who took place. But the song came in a miniature miracle kind of way: several week ago, watching Kelley Hunt perform at the Dakota in Minneapolis¬† I couldn’t help thinking of one word repeatedly: miracle. It’s a miracle she gives us this life-lifting music, and it’s a miracle that so many of us who create in any form for 376920_10201106479481349_1759454154_na living/for a life find sustenance for our art in this culture. But we do, and it kept coming to me that this was a workaday miracle, the kind you help to unfold word by word, note by note.

On the way home from Minnesota, Ken took a photo of a round rainbow with the shadow of the plane in the center of it. I posted it on facebook, and past Brave Voice participant Sandy wrote that “a round rainbow is called a glory.” Both Kelley and I emailed back and forth about that line, the photo, and the idea of a new song that encompassed all this.

A day later, I was walking the dog when we both got tired. I sat on the gravel driveway with Shay, and I began singing quietly, not really paying attention to myself. Shay cocked his right ear and leaned in. Soon I realized, I was singing “A round rainbow is called a glory./ What you survive in life is called a story…” and the rest of the song. I soon went to Kelley’s house, sat with her at her kitchen table, and sang this. “I think it’s the chorus of a song,” I told her, but she told it would work beautifully as a little song. Within a few hours, she found/created several other parts, mostly comprised of stretching the word “glory” into beautiful arrangements. We decided this song would travel with us to Brave Voice, but once there, Kelley found some verses to grow this little song.

401952_10201113625019983_517343383_nOn Tuesday morning, Kelley led the group singing in three-part harmony to this little but mighty chant, and on Wednesday evening, we ended our performance with the fuller song, complete with breathtaking cello playing by Teresa (one of the BV partipants) before surprising everyone with the chorus they all knew by heart. The song itself became a round rainbow for all those present in that moment.

Singing this song with others all week, by myself while walking across the prairie at Brave Voice, and in my mind as I fell asleep many nights, I feel its power seeping into me with each repetition. The glory of the workaday miracle is where we belong.

Top photo by Ken Lassman; other photos of Brave Voice by Dianna Burrup.