and here is Part 2, again in french. I’m trying to locate the ones with english subtitles, hopefully coming soon.
I think my last real post was back in may 2012, around the time of the french release of my second album “Made for Change”. Actually the album was poised and ready for about a year and half prior to that, the band was ready, the clubs and festivals were ready, but due to internal politics, the record label decided to push back the release twice, landing it smack in the middle of the french presidential elections. Needless to say that Sarkosy & Holland’s debates were far more intriguing to the press than my stories of phoenix birds heading west… :-)
So with a little water under the bridge, here is part 1 of a video presentation for “made for change”(in french).
So sorry Folks, I’ve been under the radar for too long, lost in translation, time zones, and various colourful unruly paradigms! Yes it’s been a crazy year and it ain’t over yet! They say the snake year brings transformation, the shedding of our skin (metaphorically speaking of course). And despite the fact that I was forwarned, (by myself) that we are “made for change”, it’s taken me by surprise.
So I’m gonna attempt in the next few posts to bring you up to date on some of the layers and flavors of this snake year unfoldment so far…
So lets see, where were we..?
Painting by my dear artist friend Jesse Allen who’s been a great inspiration to me.
Greetings Brothers and Sisters of this Earthly Experience!
“Hokahey, today is a good day to die!”
Crazy Horse, the famous Lakota Sioux resistance leader shouted these words as he and his men went into battle, giving his life, for their people with honor. To me, these words are an affirmation that we are part of a much bigger picture, deeply connected and ultimately all one…
Here today in these seemingly uncertain times, I see the Victory Riders as musical warriors in the spirit of Crazy Horse, where our only “weapons” are our musical instruments and our voices. Our intention is to deepen our awareness of this connection that we share as earth dwellers through music.
So with this in mind I’d like to introduce you to my beloved band, who have been on the road with me since the “hall of mirrors” adventure. I recognized them as Victory Riders.
First of all there is Jerome Degey (a.k.a. Jeronimo), who is the Orchestra Director and has done most of the arrangements of my music since we met many moons ago.
Last year Jerome produced my new record with me. We worked on it in Brazil, the States and in our studio in the south of France. It’s been super exciting to write songs together, and explore new musical territories differently.
His culturally mixed upbringing opened him to many different styles of music and enabled him to develop a vast adaptability and profound sensitivity.
I’ve seen him playing virtuoso all over, brazilian music deep in the favela, jazz and soul in NYC clubs, country folk with my Dad on the front porch, cuban music, african music… even with an oriental singer in Lebanon!
Jerome breathes, speaks and writes music fluently (playing guitar, bass, bouzouki, cavaquinho, banjo, and slide dobro), but he’s very shy and likes to linger in the shadows. So if you really want to spot him, then you have to wait till it’s very dark, come out to our next show and you might just hear his beautiful enchanting playing.
He is a kindred spirit and we have a special connivence that is very precious to me.
Then came brother Philippe Aglae. We developed over the years a very special connection, and he’s become a pillar of our creative team.
He’s a most unique individual, full of super ideas, energy, theories, music, and of course an incredible voice! As they say, they truly broke the mold when they made him!
With his impressively vast knowledge of traditional music from around the globe, his deep gospel experience as a choir arranger/leader and his Caribbean roots, Philippe knows the power of the voice and the importance of creating a soulful, dynamic dialogue.
I love watching him get everyone to participate in a song, it really adds another dimension to his rich, expressive style…
On stage Philippe has been expanding his possibilities, as he adds more percussion to his artistic purpose and design. I sense that what we see of Philippe’s talent today is just the tip of the iceberg…
On gospel and blues vocals, percussion and dance, watch out brothers and sisters for the beautiful Princess K-Rolyn’ Loïal, (I call her a Princess as I learned in the jamaican tradition…).
Being from Guadeloupe and drawing much musical inspiration from her rich heritage, K-Rolyn’ is a fire ball of energy, rhythm, singing and dancing like a queen, she always has a wise “island saying” to illuminate every situation. She can get a belly laugh out of the driest person, yes, she’s very talented with quite a few more tricks in store for us down the line, I’m sure…
Now we head a little further down south and come to my sweet Ney “Bahia” Veras, from where? Bahia, Brazil of course! He comes from a family of 27 brothers and sisters in the heart of Salvador de Bahia, most of whom are professional musicians! Imagine that!
He plays many instruments, drummer by trade, but when he plays as a Victory Rider, he plays the mandolin like a devil, guitar, and endless percussion instruments…
Beside the music, he can cook up one of his famously spicy recipes from Salvador de Bahia and you’ll be instantly transported right to the white sand beaches of his homeland singing to Yemanja!!! Speaking of Bahia, Ney’s family had the Victory Riders stay in their home where we played music till the dawn…
Right across the ocean, back to Africa. All the way up to Algeria, here we find Latabi Diouani on the drums, djembe, congas and other percussion.
He’s hard to miss! Not just a drummer, he’s into “high style geek drum gear” that eludes me completely, but he loves what he does and you can feel it when he grooves…
He can play all kinds of music, from Mississippi to Bamako!
Latabi has been the prized drummer of worldwide african artists like Toure Kunda, Angelique Kidjo or Souad Massi so I feel very lucky that he is with us! Rough at first, Latabi is a real teddy bear, he keeps us laughing in the tour bus so we all know that he could always shift his career as a stand up comedian!
I’d also like to say a few words about the beautiful spirits who’ve joined up with us on this new album.
It’s been quite serendipitous too, because, in a way, a couple of years back, I met Philippe Aglae, thanks to Julia Sarr. Julia is an incredibly beautiful, soulful singer and songwriter from Senegal, with a majestic voice that has no borders. Julia’s magical stage presence puts her in high demand all over, much like her sister soulmate Olyza Zamati.
Both of them have worked extensively with Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Youssou’n’Dour and many others.
Years back I had the pleasure of meeting Olyza (working on an american project with Wasis Diop and Mama Keita), and Olysa’s gorgeous fresh, spirited voice made me cry. When K-rolyn’ couldn’t make it for a concert with us, my sister Olyza came for a few shows, it was really great to have her talent with us…
Then there is the sweetheart Ze Luis Nascimento from Brazil, an incredibly intuitive and artistic percussionist with no boundaries! No style can stop Ze Luis, he plays with Gypsies, traditional Pakistani Sufis, African, Latin, Cape Verde musicians, etc… With his very personal approach, he brings to each style a new and different atmosphere that illustrates wonderfully the musical message…
Always enthusiastic and game for musical adventure!
One of the most recent kindred spirits to join us is our space cowboy David Picard, playing bass, guitar and singing harmony on stage. With his kind rooted personality, he naturally fits right in as a Victory Rider. Although he’s from a part of France best known for its wine (Bourgogne), David is our true expert in Salsa and Latin music, and has dedicated his life to playing, producing, and arranging all kinds of music with soul.
The Victory Riders are a moving clan, open to include different people… Won’t you come along with us on a musical journey, a “walkabout” throughout this wild planet we call home as musical family.
Here is a song from this new album, called “Headin’ West”. Have a listen and let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your feed back, it means a lot to me.
I really like to let songs take on their own personal meaning to whoever is listening, so I try to keep my explanations light. The only thing I wanna say is that to me, this song is an invitation to start fresh, a new beginning, a new moon cycle… The idea that came to me in this song, is that we could begin to see through different eyes, the eyes of our heart. Our eyes can get so confused, polluted with judgement and fear; but the heart, by it’s very nature is loving, compassionate and courageous. So what would happen if we looked at our world through the eyes of our heart?
With my heart I see you,
J’aimerais partager avec vous cette nouvelle chanson issue de mon nouvel album “Made for change”. N’hésitez pas à me donner vos impressions, votre avis compte beaucoup pour moi !
En général, je préfère laisser à chacun sa propre interprétation des paroles de mes chansons, et n’en donner qu’un minimum d’explications… Je dirai juste que cette chanson est un appel à un nouveau départ, un nouveau cycle. L’idée m’est venu que l’on pourrait voir les choses avec d’autres yeux, avec les yeux du cœur. Notre vision est souvent si troublée par le jugement et les peurs; mais notre coeur par nature est courageux, aimant, compatissant.
Alors que se passerait-il dans ce monde si nous regardions les choses avec le cœur? Je vous vois tous à travers le mien.
This is an emergency message: The life of my friend Almir Surui is in grave danger. Activists throughout the Amazon are being killed and Almir is top on the hit list. Can you please take a minute and sign this petition on avaaz.org:
For more information you can also read:
Ceci est un message d'urgence: La vie de mon ami Almir SURUI est en grand danger. Les activistes de l'Amazone sont assassinés les uns après les autres et Almir est le premier sur la liste. Voudriez-vous prendre une minute pour signer cette pétition sur avaaz.org :
Pour plus d'information vous pouvez consulter:
“Imagine one day” and “I know you can” (Concert pour l'Egalité 2011)
I’m super excited to share with you this song called “I know you can” that I wrote during the last tour. So some of you might recognize it, as we would end our shows singin’ and dancin’ all together to this one!
Growing up in an American folk music tradition, living in Africa with Griot families, this song is really special to me; it mixes together parts of my life that often seemed quite distant and brings in a powerful sense of union… My hope is that it might bring something like that to you too!
Je suis très heureuse aujourd’hui, de partager avec vous cette chanson appelée « I Know You Can », que j’ai écrite pendant notre dernière tournée… certains d’entre vous la reconnaitront peut-être, puisque nous l’avons chanté et dansé ensemble à la fin de certains de nos concerts!
Cette chanson compte énormément pour moi. Ayant grandi dans la tradition folk américaine et ayant passé des années en Afrique chez les familles de Griots, ce morceau rassemble ces périodes de ma vie qui peuvent paraître bien éloignées et m’apporte un fort sentiment d’unification…
J’espère que ce titre vous apportera à vous aussi autant de plaisir !
At the crossroads of my front door step, I turn the keys and push the door. I’ve been away for so long, traveling with my band, producing our new album… But here I’ll lay my bags down, in the south of France , this will be my home for a while… As I enter the house, I’m conscious that although my journey seems behind me, in truth, a new one has just begun… It will be a different kind of journey, perhaps at times an inward journey, but it will be one I’d like to go on with you, if you want to come along..? I wanna to share with you the music we made over this last year…
Here in this blog, I’ll be writing to you about all kinds of things, my thoughts, experiences, sometimes it might be one of the Victory Riders who writes, and sometimes I might include some words by other folks when I like the way they say it… But here together, we can ride the waves of change, dance with the unexpected, embrace our diversity, and celebrate our musical budding community…
Devant l’entrée, je tourne la clé et pousse la porte. Je suis partie pendant si longtemps, à voyager avec mon groupe ou à produire le nouvel album avec Jérôme… Mais là, je pose mes bagages, le sud de la France redevient mon « chez-moi » pour quelques temps… Alors que j’entre dans la maison, je suis consciente que si mes voyages semblent derrière moi, un nouveau voyage vient juste de commencer…
Ce sera un autre type de voyage, peut-être même parfois un voyage intérieur, mais ce sera un voyage que j’aimerais bien faire avec vous, si vous voulez m’accompagner…
Ici, dans ce blog, je voudrais partager avec vous la musique que nous avons créée au cours de cette dernière année, vous raconter mes expériences, mes pensées, toutes sortes de choses… Parfois, peut être qu'un des Victory Riders prendra la plume… parfois peut être, ce blog inclura aussi les mots d’autres personnes, quand ces mots m’auront touché…
Mais ici, je voudrais qu'ensemble, nous puissions traverser les vagues du changement, danser avec l’inattendu, étreindre notre diversité, et fêter notre communauté musicale naissante.
After the first tour I was more than ready to put my bags down for a little while. So when this little house (near where my brother and his family live now) called my name, I answered “Home”! Moved in as fast as possible, and we set up with Jerome the “Victory Rider’s studio” and started to record the “Made for change” album, negotiating turns with the relentless midi cicadas and the so-called singing river frogs.
When it’s break time we escape into the cool garrigues on these beautiful hiking trails, where we sometimes run into fox and rabbit, and in the spring the paths are lined with seemingly psychedelic wild flowers. Behind the house I have a small organic vegetable garden where I grow all the veggies that my sweet french neighbors don’t grow, like hot chili peppers, kale, collard greens, okra, coriander, curry leaf; well I could go on and on about my garden, but maybe another time…
For some reason, after all these years of traveling, planting roots does me good! :-) and what better place than the south of France to do just that.
Every year my Dad tries to spend time with his dear friends on Cumberland island, last year my sister Brenda, and I joined them for a magical Thanksgiving, and I was blown away by the artists there, the strong community spirit and the spectacular landscape all around.
My father and I are always so busy that we rarely get time to see each other. In early 2010 on whim we called my sister and all met up in Ft. Lauderdale, rehearsed a few songs in the afternoon, and played a show for a charming unexpecting crowd. Here is his web site: http://www.jonathanedwards.net and here is a video of that impromptu family reunion.
We ended up mixing in Miami with the great Jimmy Douglass who introduced us to the famous Mario Medious. My father flew in to put down some beautiful vocal and harmonica parts on the album. It was so special to me to have my Papa (and Mama) record on the album, we really had a blast. It was amazing watching Mario Medious and my Dad reconnect after so many years.
In Rio de Janeiro, we were welcomed by our dear friends Jean, a musician and film maker, and his wife Maria, a beautiful dancer. They helped us to find the instruments we were looking for to create the sound for the new album, and took us around to concerts and showed us the most magical spots… One night we were so moved by the beauty on the wild coast line, that we all danced together in the moon light, dreaming of ways to share the experience with others through our art…
In my band our super multi-instrumentalist, Ney Bahia invited us to spend some time with him and his family in Salvador de Bahia during full out Carnaval. It was a dream come true but quite a shock at the same time as we had just come from the calm and quiet Surui people in the magical rainforest of the Amazon. After a few emotional adjustments we got into it and even got to ride in the parade itself on an enormous bouncing and dancing “char” through the wild pulsing city streets! The rhythms of all the percussion going on was so overwhelming the senses, to such a point that we knew we had to include those sounds to the album.
When we were invited by the tribal leader Almir Surui to do a concert in Cacoal Rondonia, Brazil to raise awareness in the local logging communities, we had no idea what the out come would be. The situation is very tense there and as the Surui activists still fear for their lives, they were very concerned that we too could become targets as we got involved in this conflict (which is why in some of the photos you can the see the armed guards that we had with us while we were in Cacoal).
However for the time that we were there, what we experienced was different. The tribal leaders, the activists, the local politicians, and the local illegal logging community, all came together for perhaps one of the first times in a long time, looking at their situation differently. We were filled with hope that these people, polititians and loggers were begining to see that these forests and their people were something precious, to be protected.
I’m a very sensitive creature, I tend to pick up on peoples feelings and thoughts quite easily, and I have to say that it was amazing to me to experience the energetic shifts that were going on during this show process. To be part of something so much bigger than just a show about my personal story (which has its value too). This energy that was circulating was very different from other experiences I’ve had. It really brought home once again the tremendous power and importance of “working together to make change”.
Visiting the Amazon is something I’d always dreamed about from the stories of my friends, but couldn’t see logically how it would ever happen. So years later when I found myself swimming in the rio branco with my new Surui friends, I was reminded of the expression “never fear to dream too big”… And that’s what these Indigenous leaders are doing too, they’re daring to dream big, they are risking their lives to save their future generations (and surely ours as well). Tragically many tribal activists have been killed even since we last were there. But they keep the faith that change is coming, that out there, there are people who care and value them as guardians of these precious forest habitats. When Almir the Surui tribal leader took me for a walk through a large rolling hill area of his ancestral land that had been cut down by illegal loggers. He opened his arms big and wide and said with a big childlike smile “all this we will call the “Grace forest!” What an honor! Still grinning he said “So you can tell our story to your musical community and invite them to plant trees in this forest for the survival of guardians of the forest”. So here, I invite you, brothers and sister of this precious planet earth, come plant a tree in the Grace forest for the survival of these earth keepers and know that “It’s not “CAN we make a difference in the world?” It’s “We DO make a difference in the world!”
This hope that the Surui carry was so moving in fact that it reminded me of one of my favorite mythical spirits, the phoenix bird rising from its ashes, rejuvenation, rebirth, new strength against all odds we persevere… I thought I sure could embody some of that spirit myself these days, and so right there in the forest Jerome started to record on a lap top, with the sound of the soft jungle rain on the thatched roof and the wild birds screeching, how perfect.
As a teenager I was blessed to have teachers that taught me about many beautiful eastern faiths but one of the ones they really focused on at the time was Tibetan Buddhism. The Buddha’s teachings moved and inspired me and continue to give me guidance today. So later, while I was living in Punjab, a dear friend and I took his parents car and drove up to Ladakh on some of the worlds most dangerous roads. He was in search of adventure, but for me it was more a kind of a pilgrimage. What we experienced was both!