I have shared the story of the Goddess Voce who, according to the Vedic legend, sang the world into existence; the tale about the mothers in the West African tribe who give each newborn their identity with their own unique song; and the film, Alive Inside, featuring Mary Lou who, upon hearing a familiar piece of music from her own childhood, was awakened out of the dark cloud of dementia into such a high state of presence and vitality that it inspired her to dance, sing and shed tears of joy.
I have even built campaigns, and traveled the globe, to help people better understand the incredible power of music and song. Still, it never ceases to amaze me each time I experience this power in action.
A few years ago, while interviewing artists and healers in Brazil for a film about the power of music, I befriended an amazing painter, healer and spiritual leader named Babalu. He was comparing the advantages of using music, as opposed to his visual art, for the purpose of healing the planet and transmitting essential messages into the hearts of the masses. Despite the potency of and critical acclaim for his paintings, Babalu said that he felt music was the ultimate channel. "The beautiful thing about music is that people can carry it with them anywhere, and the artist can continue to give it away to an unlimited number of people without losing possession of their own creation."
When we share the gift of music, we receive healing benefits ourselves, both from the act of giving and from the energy of the music we share. Music doesn't discriminate -- anyone can offer music as an expression of his or her love. We can sing, play or simply share a favorite song -- one that moves us deeply, lifts us up, or helps us express the inexpressible. By doing so, we change our own vibrational field, our mental and emotional state, and even the cellular structure of our body. From this place, we can transfer those qualities to someone we love, or a stranger we just met, in the most authentic and resonating way.
I was blessed to spend my Christmas Day last year with a volunteer group of men and women of diverse ages and nationalities. We visited each ward of the Los Angeles Kaiser Hospital and sang holiday carols to, and with, the patients and medical staff resigned to spend their holiday there. Despite all my experience with music and healing, I was deeply moved to see how such a simple gesture could bring so much light to an individual or family struggling to stay balanced and hopeful in the face of severe health challenges. The healing effect was not just experienced by the patients and their caregivers. Each of us carolers were touched and transformed by sharing our joy and compassion through music.
It is now the last day of 2014, and I am looking at the ballot on my desk for the 2015 Grammy awards. I am a voting member of NARAS, so I am responsible for making my selections from the long list of nominated artists. One of the most coveted of all the awards is the Song of the Year. It is profound to imagine that there could be one song that is better and more popular than all the others. While I appreciate this notion, and the awards, I can't say I totally agree with this principle when it comes to measuring the impact music has on our personal wellbeing. When I think about music's ability to transform the human spirit, heal us, or help us connect on a more personal level, I believe the Song of the Year is likely to be different for many of us. For me, if I could give such an accolade to one piece of music, I would choose a song that helps me create the deepest resonant joy and connection to my authentic voice, even when I hear it sung by someone else.
Millions of people around the world are making New Year resolutions. Many of those pledges are about being more disciplined, or giving something up. Others are reflections upon all the things they are grateful for, making note of their most treasured memories of the past year.
I recommend taking a few moments of your reflection time to tune into a piece of music that has touched you deeply this past year, or to simply connect to a favorite song that continues to bring you a deep resonating feeling of joy, strength, or inspiration. Pick your own Song of the Year. Then, share that gift with someone you love, or anyone you meet who would benefit from a little lift. There is something magical that happens when we share from such a deeply moving and personal place, especially when we add the resonating power of music to that expression.
Music is like an exponential form of nutrition for the human race. While a good meal can feed a man for a day, a great song can feed a million souls for a lifetime. Imagine what the ripple effect might be if a million people were to share their Song of the Year today.
Let's start 2015 off on a music note:
- Dance your way into the new year.
- Sing your New Year's resolution.
- Create a playlist that inspires you to follow your dreams and keep your resolutions for the coming year.
- Pick a favorite song for each day of 2015, then vote on your favorite from that list at this time next year.
- Join a choir or start a band.
- Support music in schools and hospitals.
- Pull that instrument out of the closet -- either play it or give it to someone who will.
Feel free to share other recommendations, or your pick for your personal Song of the Year, with us here.
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For more by Frank Fitzpatrick, click here.