- Artist: Clair Oaks
- Format: CD
- Release Date:9/11/2007
This CD is a celebration of and tribute to The Goddess (including Gurumayi, Mother Maya, and Amma),Shakti, the Feminine Divine. Soothing, deeply relaxing, it is appropriate for any quiet endeavor, drawing the listerner inside, to the quiet contentment of the True Self. The birth of Shakti's Sanctuary released August, 2007. Things were moving fast. Sutra's Song was well received, especially in the Svaroopa Yoga community (the style of yoga I teach). Teachers loved it, as did their students. I began receiving emails from all over the country (and internationally) from appreciative listeners who shared the many ways they were using the CD's. Some credited the music with helping them successfully initiate their home yoga practice. Some used the music to soothe their children to sleep. Others used it as background music for yoga classes, massage and other forms of bodywork. They raved and asked for more! During this period, the band began to grow. Bob, and Ian and I were joined by Susan Graves, a beautiful singer (and massage therapist) who was introduced to chanting when she heard the band at an open house for Soul Source Yoga. Susan had just moved her massage practice into our suite at Soul Source Yoga. She and I hit it off immediately, but it wasn't until she saw us play/chant at the open house in 2005, that I realized she was a singer. She told me later that when she heard us, she knew she would be in the band someday. We were thrilled to have her. She is a great singer, who shares my love of harmony (maybe it is the Irish in me). The four of us performed together for many months, traveling together and creating beautiful, musical meditation experiences. I began writing the chants that would comprise Shakti's Sanctuary. I was inspired to create a tribute album to the Feminine Divine. Again, the music seemed to surge forth, sometimes I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up with it! I heard inside me, luscious melodies, chord progressions and harmonies that pushed their way into my consciousness to be discovered and wrapped around the names of the Divine Mother for Tribute. It was my own personal call of appreciation and prayer to this energy of the Mother. Next to come was the music for the Gayatri Mantra. The progression felt dreamy, like something emerging from some place very deep and formless. The timing for this piece was not going to fit any particularly regular rhythm. It was to be organic and spontaneous, which was interesting when it came time to record. I first recorded the harmonium with the sound of the tamboura setting the tone. I played with harmonies, (I actually heard a full chorus in my head) and have to say I struggled with this one, trying to bring the sensation of this chant, the way I experienced it on the inside, into form. In the end, I decided to have no harmonies, to record just my voice solo, though whenever I hear it, I still hear the choir! Instead, I added the chorus of singing crickets to this track, (they continue into the last track), which to me holds a connotation of being out in nature on starry summer nights, looking out into the cosmos - that was the feel of the Gayatri for me - timeless, endless, stars strewn across a night sky - making me feel small and at the same time, a part of something very vast...My father used to have an old reel to reel tape recorder that he used to recorded the sound of a summer night - crickets, frogs, wind in trees. I always loved that, it somehow inspired tapping into a deep quiet presence, even as a child and somehow that memory came back to me when writing this piece of music. One time during my teacher training, I was having an Embodyment session (bodywork associated with the style of yoga I teach) and I saw, inwardly, a vast night sky. I came to realize, like in a dream when you see something that doesn't make sense logically and yet... makes perfect sense, that what I was seeing was in fact the inner universe. It was as it says in the Great Teachings - we are the in the Universe and the Universe is within us. The Great Mystery, on the outside and the inside ~ that was the feeling of the Gayatri I was striving to create. Om shanti was written next. This piece began as just a slow long chant of Om shanti with a few voices, including Susan, Ian, my eldest son, Elijah and myself... again, I had the structure of the chord progression and built from there. My buddies Ned Leavitt (harmonium player for Wah during the years I sang back up with her) and Wah were visiting as we had a couple local gigs planned for her band, and she and Ned graciously agreed to come to the studio and lay down a few tracks. I really didn't know what I wanted them to do - I was just grateful that they were in town during this project and knew it was a nice opportunity to have them be included on the record. So we went over and did some experimenting. Wah and Ned added their voices on the background "Om Shanti's", and then Wah added a high melody over that. I liked what we came up with but knew it wasn't quite finished. One afternoon when I was driving in my car, the counter melody and harmony came to me. I was able to remember it and I laid those tracks down the next time we were in the studio. And that completed that track along with the beautiful timeless cricket chorus! I had been playing with a partial chord progression on the guitar for a couple weeks and suddenly one day, the three distinct parts came, fully formed, and I set out to decide what words would pair well with these parts. I knew I wanted a 4th track for this CD. I had been reading through one of Thomas Ashley Ferrand's books and came upon a beautiful Shakti puja - a celebration of the Goddess. I was so taken with it, though it was so very long! I ended up choosing from my favorite lines for the "verse" part of this chant (which I named "Shakti Puja"). For parts 2 and 3, I came up with a chorus of sorts that reminds us of our True Nature being that of Divine Love (Aham Prema) and that Consciousness itself is our True Form (Chidananda rupa). This track came together the fastest of the 4 and it is still my personal favorite - You just never know how the Creative Spirit will move, and it is certainly not constrained by time or space! Shakti's Sanctuary was complete and was joyfully released that August of 2007!
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