Music is sound and sound is energy, and energy can permeate, mend and uplift us.As a sound healer, Gina Breedlove knows this truth from the inside out. I was curious to talk to this woman who has …
Music is sound and sound is energy, and energy can permeate, mend and uplift us.
As a sound healer, Gina Breedlove knows this truth from the inside out. I was curious to talk to this woman who has been called "a vocal priestess" by folksinger Holly Near, performed in Broadway's "The Lion King," toured with Harry Belafonte and appeared in two of Spike Lee's recent movies.
Gina Breedlove returns to Taos as part of Goddess Fest, a concert series produced by singer-songwriter Jenny Bird.
While she is here, Breedlove will give a free talk at Unity of Taos at 10 a.m. Sunday (Sept. 9). That evening she performs her music at 7 p.m., also at Unity of Taos, 69 Blueberry Hill Road.
As we talked on the phone, Breedlove revealed she found making music to be a profoundly empowering experience early on in her life. When she was five and going through a difficult time, she discovered she could use music to express and move her emotions.
"When I was very young, I started using sound - humming and toning. I would sing the same chorus or line of the song over and over again," Breedlove recalled.
Breedlove grew up in Brooklyn, but her father was from Florida. When the family moved to Florida, Breedlove said she was influenced by the church and what she called a holy roller Pentecost family.
She described that the women of the church would gather and wail together, crying on their knees, moving with vocalized sound but no lyrics. She said when they made it to the other side of the cathartic experience, there was always delicious food and laughter.
"Sound and music have always been the same thing for me -- the same intention," said Breedlove. She said she no longer uses the word "concert" to describe what she does. Instead she calls her public offerings "rituals."
For her Taos visit, Breedlove will be traveling with her guitarist and working with some local artists.
"It will be a beautiful music offering, a place you can rest, and you will leave lifted," Breedlove commented.
"It's music. It's sound healing," said Breedlove. "A lot of times people don't even clap in between the songs. There's an energetic that comes through. I call it spirit. There will be a lot of humor as well. I don't feel very precious about it. I'm actually quite irreverent. I am not afraid of anyone's grief."
As a young performer Breedlove was chosen by Harry Belafonte to tour with him. She joined him on stage for duets and a few solos. She remembers Belafonte as the consummate professional.
"I've never known someone so masterful on stage. … I learned a lot watching him and listening to him. … He worked harder than anyone I know," Breedlove reflected.
She recalled they performed five or six shows a week in different cities, and the touring group became like family.
"I cherish the memories around that time," Breedlove said.
Later, Breedlove toured with folk rocker Ani DiFranco, who became popular among the college crowd in the 1990s and paved the way for independent artists making music on their own terms. Breedlove said DiFranco sold out wherever they went.
"I was blown away. She was another consummate professional," said Breedlove. "She's a bad ass. It blew my mind and opened my heart. And, to have dominion and agency over what you do. It was another shift in my perspective. I began to do more of my own music - more folksoul and experimenting with instrumentation and allowing the fullness of what I walk with come through, unapologetically."
These days, Gina Breedlove is touring the country and preparing for a move to Georgia. She is excited to return to Taos for Goddess Fest.
At the end of our interview, I asked Breedlove what she loves best about being a musician. "So many things," she said. Then, "I love climbing inside the music, literally."
Tickets for the performance are $10-20 sliding scale.
Goddess Fest continues with Aine Minogue and Sunita Staneslow, both Windham Hill harpers, Oct. 3 and a CD release show by Martha Reich Braden Oct. 18. For more, visit jennybird.com/goddess-fest.html and ginabreedlove.com. Call (575) 751-1452.