A CD is Born
Susan Mohini Kane’s thoughts and inspiration that led to A Moment of Joy
“I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.” (Walt Whitman)
As I contemplated the prospect of producing a solo CD, my first entré into artistic expression in a digital form, the most important bit of advice I received was to make the project an expression of me. It was clear that many greater artists than I had recorded many of these pieces with great orchestras and famous pianists. I simply could not compete in that type of a marketplace. It was a great piece of advice that freed me to break all the rules and to make the CD about my own artistic expression. However, it also started me on a spiritual journey to discover who I am as an artist.
I wondered if an American singer should only sing American music. I wondered what is truly authentic expression of myself as a singer and as a human member of this planet. How could I deny that I am born and raised in the US? To go further, born and raised in the midwest. I went to Taos, New Mexico, to contemplate all the possibilities. I was raised to perform folk songs and Christmas carols, hymns and patriotic songs. I was trained to sing Italian opera and French art song and German Lieder. I was trained to sing old renaissance madrigals, baroque cantatas, classical arias, romantic songs, and modern repertoire from classical composers. But who am I as an artist?
For help I turned to Georgia O’Keefe and Walt Whitman. Georgia O’Keefe, whose work was all around me in New Mexico, inspired me to use my classical training to create my sounds but to eschew all the academic and industry “rules” and sing what I like. Walt Whitman, at first a purist who only thought that American music had to come from America’s people: the lullabies mothers sang to their children, hawkers selling their wares, workers in the fields, and cole miner’s songs. He, at first, believed that true Americans couldn’t authentically sing European music and still have it make sense to the independent American spirit…and then he fell in love with opera. European music suddenly wasn’t only for the rich and silly people in frilly costumes. It touched his heart, it made his own soul fly and soar over vast landscapes.
So, with Walt’s approval, I tentatively thought that I, a girl from Iowa, raised on her grandmother’s farm, the daughter of a father who was a construction worker, could use her classical training, but only if it truly touched her own heart. The excerpt from Song of Myself quoted above so accurately describes my own feeling about my authentic music, it is born of myself. It could be nothing else. I hope you enjoy it.