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Announcing Earth Eclectic

I’m beyond thrilled, pumped, excited, and delighted, to announce the premiere of a new radio series.

Earth Eclectic: new music that celebrates Gaia

We’re calling it the Earth Eclectic radio hour. My co-conspirator Laura Dedelow and I have been working on this  production for well over a year. We’ve kept after it through many challenges because we feel the world needs to hear this.

It’s a weekly program featuring new music that celebrates the Earth and speaks to the heart. We think of it as “ecospiritual” music. The program encompasses a diverse array of sounds, including sacred music from various traditions, popular music of every genre, experimental excursions that don’t fit neatly into any category, and much more.

The common thread that weaves this tapestry together is the love of Mother Earth. Once we started listening, we were amazed to discover how much music in this vein is being released right now. As our global ecological crisis deepens, such expressions seem to be rising. We believe this emergent body of work needs to be shared. It’s medicine, a balm for healing. Our mission, then, is to celebrate the music that celebrates Gaia.

If you’re in New Orleans, you can tune into WHIV 102.3 FM at the ungodly hour of 5AM Central on Sunday morning, right before the gospel show. Of course, the station streams live via their website; you can also visit where you can listen to the show on demand, even now, via Mixcloud.

Oh wait, I think I can embed our premiere episode right here:

The premiere is scheduled for 21 April 2024. We should be weekly thereafter.

When you have an hour, please take a listen, and by all means let us know what you think. We’re just getting started, and we can use all the pointers we can get.

I’m especially proud of our premiere episode, and I’d like to highlight the featured tracks with a little extra information about why they were selected and included.

  1. “The Earth Is Our Mother / Shalom Chaverim / Wade in the Water,” performed by Symphony Chorus of New Orleans.  This was recorded live at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in the Garden District of New Orleans on the afternoon of 3 March 2024. I was there! I rode my bike from Mid-City and was utterly enthralled by the program, which included the entire Missa Gaia (see also the final selection in this list) and several other ecocentric works. The recording was done simply, using a phone mounted on a tripod, and after the performance was over I approached the guy who did it. I explained about our plans for the radio show, and he immediately caught my drift. “This would be perfect, wouldn’t it?” Indeed, I can think of no better way to kick off the series than this medley of a Neo-Pagan chant, a Jewish folk song, and an African American spiritual. Watch the whole performance on YouTube or learn more about the volunteer-driven Symphony Chorus. (Technical note: I did some minor noise reduction to enhance the audio.)
  2. “Same Mother” by Kjersten Hallin. This chant is so catchy that I find myself whispering it under my breath all the time. According to Kjersten’s liner notes, she “caught this song while hiking in Kalapuyan territory of the coast range of so-called Oregon. Wherever we go, wherever we’ve come from, we are walking the same planet, the same Mother Earth.” She also notes that she’s playing a drum made from salvaged bed slats and packing tape, which she calls her “waste-strument.” To learn more, and see Kjersten’s original artwork, please visit Bandcamp, or her Magic Mama site.
  3. “Owl Song 1” by Ambrose Akinmusire with Bill Frisell & Herlin Riley. I’m blessed to live in New Orleans, often noted for its rich musical culture. I found this piece because of the involvement of Herlin Riley, a renowned drummer from the Crescent City. Owl Song is a sublime album of spiritually-inflected, minimalist jazz. According to a review in The Guardian, Ambrose Akinmusire chose the name “because his favourite birds’ cool occupancy of their world mirrors this project’s search for space and precious time in a clamorous human habitat.” Can you hear the sound of an owl call in this title track? I think I can. This album is released on the storied Nonesuch label and available on multiple platforms.
  4. “May All That Lives” by Jan Roundy. I confess I wasn’t aware of this whole “community sing” movement even though I may have been participating in it. (Kjersten Hallin, above, is also a proponent.) Apparently people like to get together and sing. Who knew? I haven’t been able to learn much about Jan Roundy, but apparently she’s in Maine and has written a bunch of songs which have been recorded with help from Heather Pierson of New Hampshire. (Heather has musical connections to New Orleans. There’s always a connection to New Orleans!) Jan’s album, Deep Beginnings, is available free on Bandcamp, with the note that “anyone feeling moved to buy the songs is encouraged to make a donation to their local food pantry.” Sheet music is also available “for community, hospice, and church choirs.”
  5. “Higher Ground” by TV Girl. Now we enter a set of songs on a theme. Note the similarity of the next five titles. TV Girl of San Diego/Los Angeles might just be the most famous artist featured in this program. I was introduced to TV Girl by my daughter, who tells me the prominent gospel-sampling sound of this song, and indeed the entire Grapes Upon the Vine album, is nothing like their previous work. The lyrics are a bit ambiguous to me, asserting first that “This old world it ain’t my home / Nice place to visit but you wouldn’t stay,” which sounds like a reference to the afterlife. But later, the singer asserts that although there “Might be heaven up above us / But even if it could be found / There ain’t no higher ground.” That suggests a this-worldly perspective that I like. The album is available through Bandcamp.
  6. “Down in the Ground” by Peter Mayer. I discovered Peter Mayer through the Religious Naturalist Association. This song was commissioned by a soil scientist, Michael Thompson, and the Soil Science Society of America. That might sound like a goof, but to the contrary, Peter delivers a song that invokes the deepest awe and wonder and love. Well done! Find the song on Bandcamp or visit Peter’s website.
  7. “Roots Go Down” by Vito Di Bona. I had the honor of meeting Vito Di Bona through conversations organized by the Gaian Way. We even consulted with him in the early days of planning for this radio show.  This is the culminating song from his Living Earth EP, which he describes as “a hymn from the future” and  “a summer solstice hymn that will be sung on along the banks of the Eno River when people are once again Living in Harmony with Nature.” You’ll hear more from Vito in future episodes, I’m certain. He’s also recorded an album of songs based on the Tao Te Ching. Find his music on Bandcamp.
  8. “Down to Earth” by Peter Power. The lyrics to this one are so minimalist that you might easily miss the intent, so check the liner notes for this New Dance Energy album on the Shika Shika label: one-fifth of the royalties are going to Projeto Sapucaia, which is billed as a “regenerative agro-reforestation project in the valley of Raposa, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil.” Peter Power has been involved with this community initiative since 2016. They further specify that the funds collected will go towards “maintenance of the agro-forest, to the recently established cultural centre and to the continual reforestation of new areas of the land.” Sounds awesome. Find this album on Bandcamp or via Shika Shika.
  9. “Come Back to Earth” by Advika. I’m cheating here. Even more than with TV Girl, the inclusion of this track represents a bit of license on that part of the DJ (namely, me). I mean, it’s a fine piece of electronic pop, but does it really fit the theme? According to the artist, “The lyrics describe the deep anguish of gradual separation in a relationship that once held a promise, watching them slowly detach themselves from each other. One holds onto the promise and hopes that the other comes back.” In other words, it’s a heartbreak song. The singer is on Earth, calling for to a loved one who is slowly drifting away, out in space somewhere. The album artwork, also created by Advika, depicts a dead astronaut with the Earth in the background. The metaphor is eminently relatable, but it’s not really about the planetary ecology, or our need to reconnect to Mother Earth. That’s my interpretation. I think our society as a whole needs to “come back to Earth.” I hope Advika doesn’t mind! I also couldn’t resist the similarity with the previous four titles. This song is on Spotify, and a video is planned for June. You can also visit her website.
  10. “Hymn to Gaia” by Four Larks. We started the program with a chant which I recognize from contemporary Neo-Pagan practice, but what about ancient paganism? I’ve been fascinated for some time by the so-called “Homeric Hymns,” which come to us from Greece as far back as the 7th century BCE. It seems that fascination is shared by Four Larks, an avant-garde performance collective founded in Australia and now based California. They recorded their own interpretation of “necessary hymns for Los Angeles in the 2020s.” Specifically focusing on hymns that “celebrate collective action and the power of group resistance,” calling for “the protection of Mother Earth and the powerful female deities who govern her cycles.” Learn more from their website, watch a video, and find the album on Bandcamp.
  11. “Step into the Light” by Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition. I wrote a new chant for the spring equinox to share with my local Gaian Guild, which meets regularly on Saturday mornings in City Park. I failed to record that performance, but I got a second chance a few days later at the quarterly Earth Recollection sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition. The circle was even bigger and more diverse. We had great fun performing it together, and it sounds pretty good to me, despite the odd time signature. Much of my volunteer energy these days is devoted to the GNOICC, and if you are in the New Orleans area, I’d encourage you to get involved.
  12. “Let Us Go Forth in Peace” by Paul Winter. It’s our intention to focus on new releases, and most of the songs in this episode were released in 2023, plus a couple from 2022 and of course those two live recordings from 2024. But I also like the idea of reaching back to honor the ancestors, so to speak, and so I plan to end each episode with something a little older. The Missa Gaia or Earth Mass is one of the first musical works I encountered that demonstrated a clear ecospiritual intent. I might even speculate that without this seminal work, this radio show might not exist. Paul Winter has said that he “envisioned a celebration that was both ecumenical and ecological, one that would embrace all the voices of the Earth.” It premiered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on Mother’s Day in 1981, and has been performed there annually ever since. That’s where this recording was made, though some parts may have been recorded in the Grand Canyon! This is the final song of the mass, following the dismissal, which seemed like a fitting way to conclude our inaugural episode. I truly hope that this hour of music might impart some feelings of peace and well-being which listeners may carry forward in our work of mending the world. Listen and learn more about the Missa Gaia from Paul Winter’s site.

I doubt that I’ll have the capacity to write this up for every episode, but I wish I could. The artists surely deserve it, to say nothing of the songs themselves.

We are grateful to WHIV-FM for providing us a “home” on the airwaves. In this internet-driven era, we could have done a podcast, but we feel it’s critically important to be broadcasting on the air. There’s a host of reasons behind this rationale, but chief among them is getting to more listeners. We think this program has immense potential for global syndication through community-oriented radio stations. I can think of no better home base for Earth Eclectic than WHIV, a community station dedicated to social justice and human rights. As we know, these concerns are deeply intertwined with our need for ecological wisdom.

Finally, we are also grateful to the Gaian Way for financial and spiritual support.

Published inRadio & TV

One Comment

  1. […] There are another ten tracks included in the opening show, ranging from a song inspired while hiking to one commissioned by a soil scientist, a jazz song incorporating owl song, to the ancient Hymn to Gaia. For more extensive notes on all twelve tracks in the premiere, please visit my personal site. […]

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