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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Native American Rights Fund: Tribute to Sacred Spirit
Sacred Spirit is a musical project by Claus Zundel, Ralf Hamm and Markus Staab. The music is of electronic, new age, world, ambient, house, jazz and blues genres. Sacred Spirit, with total worldwide album sales estimated to be over 15 million copies. For each Sacred Spirit album sold, a donation is made to the Native American Rights Fund, the non-profit American Indian organization devoting all its time to restoring the legal rights of the native American people.
Ly-O-Lay Ale Yoya
The first album - Chants and Dances of the Native Americans was released in 1994. The album was nominated for best New Age album Grammy award. In keeping with the Native American theme, Zundel adopted the pseudonym 'The Fearsome Brave', and on his many other projects he is simply credited as 'The Brave'. The music conveys the stories, legends and plight of the Native Americans by combining sampled chants of the Navajo, Pueblo and Sioux tribes and Sami people yoik with synthesizer backings, all driven forth by a combination of traditional drumming and electronic dance-beats. The first single released off the album was "Yeha-Noha" (Wishes of happiness and prosperity) which was largely responsible for catapulting Sacred Spirit into the limelight. The single reached #1 position in number of countries, including 6 weeks at #1 in France. In the US, "Yeha Noha" sung by Navajo elder Kee Chee Jake of Chinle, Arizona reached top 20 in Billboard Hot 100. The album is arguably one of the most successful enigmatic projects ever, garnering sales of more than 7 million albums worldwide. It reached top 10 and charted for twenty seven weeks in the UK Albums Chart.
A second album was released by Sacred Spirit, but it was a complete divergence from the original. The focus this time was around the blues singing of America. In keeping with the change of theme, the American release saw the group name also being changed, to Indigo Spirit.
Virgin Records released the third Sacred Spirit album in 2000. The album was nominated for best New Age Grammy award in 2001. This time the project's name was slightly altered to Indians' Sacred Spirit (and in some areas even that was abbreviated to Indians' Spirit), probably to inform listeners that it was different from the second album. The subtitle is More Chants and Dances of the Native Americans. The album continues the mood and production of the first, influential album. However the album is distinctly more instrumental. Although all the tracks do feature chants or speech, each song is composed of many short samples pieced together, unlike the first album which tended to use one extended sample per song.
In 2003 two Sacred Spirit albums were released on Higher Octave music label. The first one - Jazzy Chill Out features the vocal samples by legendary blues masters Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker, in addition to tracks spiced with the warm, inviting tones of Anita O'Day and Ella Fitzgerald. The vintage vocal touch adds an extra emotional resonance to the cutting edge texturing of The Brave’s innovative sonics with the jazzy piano melodies and improvisations of Eric Harmsen. Harmsen’s ensemble—including a DJ, rapper, drummer and vocalist—performs regularly at the club Teatro Perera on Ibiza island off the coast of Spain where The Brave makes his home.
On the other 2003 album - Bluesy Chill Out Zundel collaborated with fellow Ibiza resident Dave “BK” Jeffs, a Northern Ireland native and former street musician who plays regularly at a local club named Teatro Perera. Each track was created organically, with Jeffs (who also sings and plays flute and harmonica) composing improvisational slide and steel guitar riffs as a foundation for The Brave to build his trademark synthesis upon.
“I wanted to create a contemporary recording which would draw on classic blues traditions but combine them with the Sacred Spirit tradition of chill out groove and ambience,” said Claus Zundel. His goal was to offer a fresh perspective on the blues, thereby, as he said, “dragging it out of the ghetto” of the past and into the present.
When I listen to this music, time seems to stand still... it helps me to live in the present moment. What beautiful people the First Nations people are, true respect for the earth and other life.