:: SINGING THE BONES :: Diasporic Healing and Cultural Revitalization Through Ancestral Reconnection
My beloved ancestors...I don't have their names.
For years, I found myself wishing for something I couldn’t have. A system hell-bent on keeping things hidden and my own discouragement built a wall around my creativity.
And then, in an herbal elixir bar in Berkeley, with Clarissa Pinkola Estes in one hand and years of study in the other, I remembered. It came together in an instance, and a candle was sparked in a dark cave. Over these last years of this work this candle has waxed into enough light to read the markings on the walls of my diasporic cave. There were melodies revitalized with sound, characters who began to dance, and archetypal memories marking the path between my and my ancestors. My psyche and theirs were meeting with each other, once again.
What is Singing The Bones?
Singing The Bones is a diasporic healing project that comes in two main forms; The Singing The Bones Salon and The Singing The Bones Course.
The Salon is a collaboration of 3 American artists from different ancestries sharing folks and roots music of our ancestral cultures. Kele Nitoto plays songs from the Congo, Haiti, South Africa, Gordon Allen from Ireland, Scotland, and Sweden, and Lydia Violet from Iran and Armenia. As we take turns centering the music from these places, we musically support each other in arrangement and performance, creating a multi-cultural, rich performance. The Salon also engages a mix of performance and community singing, as we also teach some of these root songs to the audience, facilitating community music-making in a supportive, accessible environment.
The Course is a collaboration between Lydia Violet and Leah Song of Rising Appalachia, who guide students through an immersive curriculum of cultural self-discovery. To be diasporic means to be a member of any group of people who have been dispersed outside their traditional homeland. Many of the world’s population, including most North American residents, exist within a diaspora. At the same time, there is also a phenomenon of ancestral cultural separation, rootlessness, and amnesia that many of us inherit. With this separation can come disorientation from land, language, and tradition and assimilation into modern cultures based on capitalism and materialism. But we do not need to resign ourselves to this assimilation. We can study the past to inform our way forward. Humans have always stored their lessons and medicines in stories and songs, and every culture has a thread in this tapestry. Students are supported with resources for researching cultural histories, harvesting both lessons from shortcomings and wisdom from life-enhancing traditions. The course is a combination of lecture, group discussion, vocal workshop, research resources, and final presentation.