After residency in France, I traveled to Switzerland to play a show at Café Kairo and visit my friend Beat-Man. I had an awesome time playing at Beat-Man’s record shop, Voodoo Rhythm Hardware Store which is located in the Old City of Bern, Switzerland.
Down the road from the Hardware Store, I was delighted to discover the Zytglogge, a 15th-century astronomical clock that displays the moon phases and ring of the zodiac. I spent my birthday in Bern so it seemed magical to be in the same space.
Also in the Old City is Bern Minster Cathedral, (German: Berner Münster), a Swiss Reformed cathedral built in the Gothic style. Construction started in 1421. Its tower was was completed in 1893, stands at 330 feet, and is the largest standing structure in the City. The space and sound was breathtaking.
On these recordings I saw myself cycle through fear and hesitation. There are a few times before I start singing where I audibly tell myself I cannot do it.
The cathedral in Bern, Switzerland. I almost didn’t go through with singing. There were a few dozen people within the space and the acoustics were cavernous. I struggled with my camera and moved 3 times before I had the guts to sing. Five notes into singing, a hush came over the crowd. A few minutes in, a group of kids sat in the pews to listen. I thought my camera was recording but it was not. The video for this song are the few photos I have. My favorite is the photo of the kids that sat around me. Their smiles and attention was moving. I am so happy I captured that moment. Towards the end of the video you’ll see a lady wearing purple. She asks me to stop singing at the end. I apologized and left. My sins were forgiven.
Thank you for watching. This is the final video from this series. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream.
Here are two more videos from the series in the Church of Saint-Germain de Charonne.
In Paris, a few blocks from where I was staying is the Church of Saint-Germain de Charonne. I entered an empty place and started singing. A priest or parishioner arrived and was setting up for a mass. I asked if it was okay to sing. He said something in French but I am naive to the language. Through tone and body language it seemed ok and friendly. I am not sure if I had permission but it seemed like I did. I hope that I conveyed gratitude to him. Singing in the church brought me much joy.
There is one more cathedral performance to share. Stay tuned. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream. Thanks for watching.
This album is called Illicit Hymns because the recordings were unplanned and unrehearsed. The locations were not scouted nor researched, rather stumbled upon.
It started at an artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux in rural France (Read the backstory in this post).
After the residency, I drove around France and Switzerland for a few weeks playing shows and singing in churches.
I’d turn the corner and find a beautiful cathedral nearly empty. The door would open, I’d walk around wide-eyed making a few coos and hoos, until I found a good spot. I’d lean my camera and audio recorder on whatever surface was nearby and start singing sounds.
Doing was first, documenting came second. I winged it. I was in each church for under 10 minutes. The visuals are shaky because of the haphazardness. However, I embrace these imperfections. If I did this any other way, the project would not be the same.
These recordings are from Gruyères, Switzerland in the Church of St. Theodule (Eglise Saint Theodule). Gruyères is a gorgeous medieval town that happened to be hosting an art fair when I arrived. I drove there to visit the HR Giger Museum. Instead, I ate grilled cheese in the Giger Cafe and headed to this church to sing. I had the place to myself with the exception of a few fellow tourists who popped in and out.
The spaces shaped the sound. The specific echo and excitement of each experience made the melody. I had never heard or sang these songs before. If I had scheduled a show, or gotten permission this would have been a completely different performance. These pieces would have never existed.
This trip was the first time I focused all my attention on art. It was an exploratory experience. It was a quest to honor and follow my intuition. It was life-changing and shaped my decision to pursue my creative calling.
There are 3 more cathedral performances to share. Stay tuned. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream.
The artist residency at Foundation House was life-changing. Foundation House offers an inspiring space and time to create for artists and activists working on projects related to their mission. I was there for 10 days and lived with 6 other artists.
My time was productive. I wrapped up 7 songs completing a long-term project and wrote 4 new pieces. I’m excited to present “Illicit Hymns”, improv cathedral performances I recorded in France and Switzerland. I’ll share a preview on November 11, with the full release on November 19, 2021 on BANDCAMP.
Two of the new songs were composed in collaboration with The Well’s Mindful Music Moments program. The song samples the sounds of Lake Erie and surrounding wildlife. I’ll be sharing those pieces in early December.
The other 2 new songs I adore. They will be on an upcoming record and are secret for now. I look forward to focusing on this album at another residency with the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation in Rockland, Maine, in December 2021.
I have lots of new songs and videos coming your way! Thanks for your support.
I want to finish this post by sharing some photos and introducing the other artists from the residency. The property was magnificent, the places I recorded sounded incredible, the food was amazing, and I am most grateful for spending time with other inspiring, empathetic, passionate artists. I genuinely love these people.
Hannah Ayers is an amazing painter and mixed media artist. Small world, she lives in Cleveland too! She was working on a powerful fiber installation piece that I’m really looking forward to experiencing when it is ready to be seen.
Rosi Greenberg is an artist and author/ illustrator. She’s working on a book, “Everyone Has a Sam” about inner critics and how to move beyond the narrative. The draft legit made me cry happy tears. I recommend you read it when it comes out.
Sarah Beth Kaye is an accessible art advocate and super smart and funny. She’s the author of Climate Change Anxiety: The Zine. At the residency, she worked on Climate Change Anxiety The Musical, which she’ll co-create with community members using the devised theatre method.
Stephanie Jenkins is a producer, archivist, and lovely musician. She plays the banjo and just had a CD release in Japan. She’s a shining star and I’m so happy to be her new friend. Steph spent the time brainstorming and planning future projects and film ideas. I’m ecstatic to see what she makes.
Victoria van der Laan is a textile artist and quilt maker. Her designs are incredible, modern, and meticulous. At the residency, she tried a new method and stretched the quilts over canvas. I’m kicking myself for forgetting to buy one. They look amazing.
Christina Peabody is an artist who makes lovely handmade jewelry. She made everything happen. She is the residency developer, manager, and organizer. Her ability to pick a great mix of artists has won her the title of “vibe curator.” She spoiled us with her delicious cooking and great sense of humor. It was so nice sharing meals and space with these wonderful women.
I’m excited to share my latest release, RISE, a song that celebrates interconnectivity and biodiversity. It is a call to action. A climate change anthem. Together we can protect the planet, and celebrate and nurture all beings on this earth. The water is rising but so are we.
Rise is a collaboration between musician Christa Ebert (Uno Lady) and artist Clare Celeste Börsch. The song offers a vision for the future where we live within our planetary boundaries, in community and thriving in mutual interconnectedness with the natural world. Inspired by the podcast How to Save a Planet‘s call to action to write a climate anthem, this is our offering to the movement. It is meant to be sung with others, with the clapping of hands and marching of feet. It is a song that is created through movement, in movement, together: through the power of We.
The song has field recordings throughout. The percussion is made of crows, chickadee calls, and hummingbird flutters. The beat is a leaky roof dripping into a metal bucket I recorded in France. There are sounds from streams in Switzerland and waves from Lake Erie. I hope you like it. Be good to the planet and to each other.
I reached out to Clare on IG because I adore her artwork and how she approaches activism. I contacted her to see if she was open to collaborate. I’m delighted for her receptiveness to work together and am excited to share this cross continent collaboration.
I’m ecstatic to announce I have been selected for the artist residency program at Foundation House. I’m honored to be a part of the Foundation House’s creative, philanthropic community.
I’ll be spending a few weeks in Connecticut creating compositions and editing videos. The property is a century old great estate, with a grand manor house, old stables, and greenhouses.
Foundation House represents life at the crossroads; respecting the past, while inspiring the future. Foundation House opens its doors to artists and activists working on projects related to the mission of bettering environmental, community, and mental health. These creatives of all disciplines – painters, writers, sculptors, designers, visionary thinkers and doers – are offered an inspiring retreat, space and time to create (FoundationHousect.org).
I’ll keep you posted on what I’m working on and more about the residency as the details unfold. If you’d like to support my travel to the residency you can through venmo @TheUnoLady and paypal UnoLadyMusic@gmail.com
Thank you Foundation House. I am grateful for the opportunity.