"Beyond Living : Fingerpicked Ruminations on the Hereafter and Its Messengers" is Americana, folk and world music songs about the mystery of death and the miracle of love.
Relaxing, joyous, spiritually uplifting music, including two original songs by Alicia Bay Laurel, two songs by Japan’s legendary singer/songwriter Donto, an original song each by Alicia’s singer/songwriter friends since their 1960s commune days, Joe Dolce and Steve McGee, two songs by Auntie Nona Beamer as part of Alicia’s tribute to her, a Hawaiian chant composed and performed by Reid Kapo Ku, and lots of wonderful Hawaiian slack key guitar performed by James Kimo West.
I created this music to uplift and relax people who are experiencing stressful major transitions in their lives. It's a healing tool for those who do hospice or grief counseling, but It's uplifting even for those who do not.
I first collected and recorded these folk, Americana, gospel, Hawaiian, Australian, Danish and Japanese songs to honor the many I love who have passed on. During 2007 and 2008, an inordinate number of people close to me died, some elderly, others in their middle years. My mother and my father died on August 15, 2007. They were 500 miles apart, and had not communicated in over 45 years.
This is the music that flowed through my mind and comforted me during these challenging times.
It seemed as if the door between the physical and the non-physical swung wide, and messages zinged both ways furiously. I collected as many as I could.
Then there’s the case of Donto.
Takashi “Donto” Kudomi, a legendary Japanese singer/songwriter, died mysteriously on January 23, 2001. He, his wife and their two young sons were watching a hula performance dedicated to Pele, the volcano goddess, at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the end of the final chant, Donto fell to the ground unconscious, and was rushed to the hospital. The next day he was pronounced dead at age 37 from a brain aneurism. He had been in perfect health until that day. Returning a year later to Pele’s home at Halema’uma’u Crater, Donto’s wife beheld him as a rainbow.
Later in 2001, I met her, singer/songwriter/bassist Sachiho Kojima, through Seawest Studios, near Pahoa, Hawaii, where we had both recorded CDs. In 2002, I helped her organize a first-year memorial for Donto at Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, a Buddhist temple in Hilo, and organized a Hawaii tour for Sachiho’s all-woman band, Amana.
I have since performed with Sachiho and her band during three visits to Japan, at numerous events, including at a huge Donto memorial concert in 2006. In May 2008, we recorded two of Donto’s songs for this CD at Donto-in, the octagonal temple Sachiho built in his honor, in Okinawa (photo on this page - I am singing and playing guitar, Sachiho is performing a hula that was choreographed for this song by Sandii Manumele). In January 2009, I debuted “Mele Nalu,” Kaliko Beamer-Trapp’s Hawaiian language interpretation of Donto’s famous hula, "Nami," (Wave) at the final memorial for Donto at Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin. Kaliko is Auntie Nona Beamer’s adopted son, a scholar of Polynesian languages teaching at the University of Hawaii, and a member of the von Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame.
I first admired the songwriting of Steve McGee and Joe Dolce when I met them at the communes where we lived in northern California in the late ‘60s. In the early ‘70s, we all lived and composed songs on Maui. All of us made music in both places with the dazzling singer and midwife, the late Janet “Sunny” Supplee. Her presence is particularly felt in this recording, since it was she who taught me the 19th century hymn “Oh Come, Angel Band” while we were living at Wheeler Ranch commune, where, at the time, I was writing and illustrating Living on the Earth, and Steve McGee was composing his song “The Garden.” Joe Dolce went on to become a platinum-selling musician and songwriter in Australia and elsewhere.
Death teaches us that life is fragile, and therefore to make use of all available opportunities to be kind and to forgive. Alicia Bay Laurel, Los Angeles, Spring 2009 * * * * This recording was conceived, arranged and produced by Alicia Bay Laurel, for Indigo With Stars Records. Recorded, mixed and mastered (plus a lot of producer-type guidance) by Scott Fraser at his studio, Architecture, in Los Angeles, with additional recording as follows: Some of the parts for Nami, Mele Nalu and Bosan Gokko recorded in Okinawa at Donto-in by Kikou Uehara, some of the parts for Nami at Kazana Studio in Hirotsu, Japan by Tim Jensen, and some of the parts for The Garden and Nami at Maui Recording in Lahaina, Hawaii by Lynn Peterson.