Alex Colao Blog

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In These Arms, A Song for All Beings-Jennifer Berezan

Posted by Alex Colao on December 29, 2010

Jennifer Berezan is a unique blend of singer/songwriter, teacher, and activist. Over the course of eight albums, she has developed and explored recurring themes with a rare wisdom. Her lifelong involvement in environmental, women’s, and other justice movements as well as an interest in Buddhism and earth-based spirituality are at the heart of her writing.

Her intense and personal approach to music as a transforming experience has brought her strong rapport with audiences from small clubs to large festivals throughout North America and Europe. Her ground breaking work as a recording artist and teacher has established her as a leading voice in the field of music and healing and she is an acclaimed producer of large scale multi-cultural ecstatic musical events. She teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies in the department of Philosophy and Religion. Her on-going class (since 1997) is entitled “the Healing Ecstasy of Sound” and explores music as a spiritual practice from a wide range of cross cultural, traditional and contemporary perspectives.
Her 1988 debut album In the Eye of The Storm laid the groundwork for what has since become music in a style that then had no label but today is part of “Americana”. The more rock oriented Borderlines (on Flying Fish/Rounder Records), was nominated for a 1993 NAIRD award (the Grammy of the independent record industry). Refuge (1997) explored lush acoustic arrangements intertwined with vulnerable personal themes.
She Carries Me (1995) marked the beginning of Jennifer Berezan’s journey into the realm of meditative and trance music. This album featured special guest Olympia Dukakis in a spoken word part.
In 2000 she traveled to Malta to create Returning, a cross cultural chant-based piece. This breakthrough work pioneered her unique approach to creating long playing, layered compositions. It was recorded in a 6000 year old oracular underground chamber in the world’s oldest temples.
Returning was followed by Praises for the World (2002), which features special guest Alice Walker and singers from a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions.
Praises for the World developed into a large scale theatrical piece as Jennifer embraced her love of collaboration. It involves nearly 60 musicians, dancers, poets, actors and activists. Performances have included guest artists Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Olympia Dukakis, Marisa Tomei, Eve Ensler, Wilma Mankiller, and Tuck and Patti. The performances also function as fundraisers and educational events for progressive organizations.
Berezan’s recent release End of Desire (2005) is a breathtaking new work that reveals her broad musical influences and interests. It weaves elements of folk, rock, chant and pop with subtle Buddhist themes, songs of love, longing and the struggle for global justice.
Acoustically based with Jennifer’s guitar and smoky vocals at the forefront, it is a warm and haunting production. It includes vocal appearances by Bruce Cockburn and Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls).
Jennifer Berezan is not your typical singer/songwriter and her work continues to expand artistic boundaries, blurring the distinctions between musical styles, politics, and spirituality.
Though her songs often confront universal issues, her perspective is informed by a refreshing and honest intimacy. Raised in the prairies of Alberta, Canada, the transformative power of nature is also at the heart of her work. The Canadian born singer calls Berkeley, California home when not on tour.

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