Touching that Heart Space: One Love to Release CD of Devotional Chants

The ever-eclectic Ithaca music scene adds another color to its palette this week with the release of "Devotional Chant," a new CD from One Love. The quartet will play a show at 8 p.m. Friday at the Ahimsa Yoga Center in the Dewitt Mall.

As its title indicates, the CD draws from a variety of ancient and contemporary prayer songs and chants from many traditions, including Hindu kirtan, Sufi zikr, Judaism, Buddhism and others.

"I've always loved chanting-this is not anything new for me," says band leader Jody Kessler, who is also an interfaith minister. "I've always been into doing various rituals and prayer through music. I thought I wanted to put together a band that would take all of the juicy qualities of kirtan, zikr and other devotional chanting and invite people to experience it with us. And not necessarily limit to one particular spiritual path or religious culture.

"And this is where the interfaith part comes in-so that people can really see that it doesn't really matter what religion you feel connected to, or what tradition you're working with--the practice of opening one's self up in prayer using music as a vehicle is extremely powerful."

The band, which also includes Joe Smellow, Doug Shire and Kristin Sharkey, likes to involve the audience at its shows. "There's another chant leader who calls his work a 'co-formance,' which I like, because it's an experience that we invite people to participate in," Kessler says. "We need that participation to lift the energy and make it juicy and alive, especially when many of those chants are call and response. It gets really high energy, and there's a lot of dancing that goes on."

"One of the things that's unique about chanting that's different, say, from singing hymns, is that there's a certain repetitive quality to it that allows one to drop out of the thinking mind and into the heart," adds Kessler. "When we're trying to remember the words to a hymn we're still sort of within our rational minds, because we're thinking about the meaning of the words or what comes next. But there's something about a very simple repetitive chant that allows one to lose one's self in it, to drop out of that rational mind and really touch into that heart space."

Admission to Friday's show is $5 or free with purchase of the CD. Visit www.onelovechant.com to learn more.

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