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Lions Roar : March 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2008 111 In the Spring we visit the holy places of Tibet. Land cost from US$4000. In the Fall we visit the holy places of Buddha’s life in India. Land cost from US$3100. Both trips start in Nepal and include daily practices and teachings as well as a four-day retreat. Chasing Buddha Pilgrimages For complete itinerary and pictures see: www.chasingbuddha.org or call: 1-800 -455-8735 Spiritual Journeys of Discovery and Growth Tibet/Chinese Minority Cultures July 9-25, 2008 $6200 Holy Mountains of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism October 7-21, 2008 $4500 www.pilgrimspirittours.com Or call 616-502-2078 Absolutely. The effect on my voice is immeasurable. Truly immeasurable. Doing man- tra and doing the prayers has completely changed my voice. Once again, I don’t know if I can define it exactly. It’s more ethereal or elusive than saying something like, “My voice is enriched by the lower register.” It’s not that simple. My relationship to the con- trol and fear of singing is gone. I don’t mean breath control. I mean control as in forc- ing myself into the music and feeling that I’m controlling the music, rather than feeling like a vessel or a vehicle. I trust my teacher so much, and I trust the path so much, that I also trust that I can do the work and simply be a vessel for something larger. Just to know that there’s a greater purpose to my music, a real purpose, has taken all the work out of it. That’s emancipating, because I don’t get stressed singing anymore. I don’t get tired singing anymore. The very first thing Rinpoche said to me the first time I met him was, “Make sure your motivation is clear.” I’d always thought that my motivation was right, but it turns out that there’s a lifetime of examination in finding true motivation. How do you feel your music can benefit others? The most important thing about my music—other than making people happy and peaceful for a second—would be the good fortune I have to be close to the lineage masters. Somehow, through my music, I could connect the listeners to those masters. The blessing of your connection could come through the art you produce. Yes. Certainly not in a mundane, phenomenal way, but in the most divine way possible. Many musicians try to communicate emotion through elaborate ornamentation. Your mu- sic tends to be spare and straightforward, and yet to me it conveys more emotion and mean- ing. Is that quality of space and simplicity something you have consciously cultivated? I could go on about this topic for hours. There are many reasons for that kind of quality in the music I do. Number one, I am a Buddhist, so emptiness is everything. When people ask, “Do you look at the glass as half full or half empty?” I always say, “I’m Buddhist. I look at it as half empty!” [Laughs] To me, space is everything. Space is the opposite truth to sound, so it is as impor- tant as sound. As a producer, I’m always looking for space, and I’m always looking to create that pocket, especially for the voice. I grew up in the Canadian Prairies, so I know about big spaces. I think my basic aesthetic, as a person as well as an artist, is minimalist, because of the Prairies. Ornamentation, I think, is an urban aesthetic. I would venture to say that it is an African-American urban sort of thing. I think it stemmed from the gospel. That is not my background, who I am, my history. When you hear Mahalia Jackson or early Stevie Wonder or early Aretha Franklin, or early gospel singers, that’s a very pure, beautiful thing. It’s real. Now, music with a lot of ornamentation is often a caricature of that pure form. It’s fraudulent. Speaking as a fan, which I have been for many years, I would say that you have one of the finest voices in the world, like a Maria Callas, Pavarotti, or Streisand. If it’s not too strange to ask, what is it like being able to sing like that? On a purely mundane level, it is totally mind-blowing to have this sound come out of my body. It feels like a whole ocean of surfers are available to me at any given mo- ment to open up my voice and play around with a melody. It does blow my mind. But the deeper truth is that we all have world-level gifts. I’m not just saying that. I honestly believe it. Maybe sometimes we are not able to reach and bring out our gifts, but they are there. It can be quite ordinary—when you see a Bhutanese woman making cheese dumplings and you taste one and it’s the best cheese dumpling you’ve ever eaten in your life, it’s the same thing! It’s essence. Ultimately, I don’t really see myself as separate from anybody else in terms of having a gift. ♦ k.d. lang continued from page 61 MAR 108-120.indd 111 MAR 108-120.indd 111 12/20/07 11:00:22 AM 12/20/07 11:00:22 AM