Sunday, December 5, 2021

Composer and Pianist Lisa Swerdlow: Inspired by Her Jewish Ancestry

Beth Ann Hilton interviews composer Lisa Swerdlow on her new concerto, Coming to America, inspired by her Jewish grandparents immigration story. Enjoy this in-depth chat about creativity, inspiration and new music.  

Visit Lisa's official website for more music:  

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

FEATURE: Soundings of the Planet: A Journey From Video Pioneers to New Age Music and Mindful Meditation

Over 50 years ago in 1970, a young couple -- Dean and Dudley Evenson -- got their first video camera, the Sony Portapack, and they literally helped launch a revolution in portable video. This was the first time that everyday people could videotape what was going on in their lives. Prior to that, only a few television channels made video but suddenly the power of media was in the hands of the people.

However, since there were hardly any playback decks in the country and that period pre-dated VCRs, DVDs and the internet, there were virtually no distribution outlets beyond a few Public Access cable TV shows. Now of course with smart phones, YouTube and social media, video can be easily created and shared.

They traveled the country, seeking, observing, and attending  events of the time. They were mindful of the changing times, and gathered countless hours of footage with artists and gurus alike.  Here is one of the most recently released archive stories:

Chief Frank Fools Crow (c. 1890-1989) was a spiritual and civic leader of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) tribe living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He worked tirelessly to preserve tribal sovereignty and treaty rights and led the traditional faction during the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation. He hosted the first ever negotiations with tribal members and White House representatives on his land. Dean Evenson and the video team had traveled to South Dakota then to videotape the standoff. When the occupation ended, Dean stayed in South Dakota for a month, learning from elders and tribal members about their traditions, their respect for the planet, as well as the challenges they faced. 

Founding the record label...

In 1979, husband and wife team and Soundings of the Planet co-founders, Dean and Dudley Evenson, decided to blend their peaceful music of flute and harp with the sounds of nature and start their own record label. They wanted to carry the message of the earth through their music into urban areas where decisions about the planet were being made. This inspiration came to them directly from their contacts with Native American elders and medicine people. They were also motivated to create a more peaceful and meditative form of music that would support yoga and massage and their evolving spiritual path. 

This anniversary video tells the tale...

Music of Peace and Healing...

In this interview, the couple speak with sitar master Deobrat Mishra from his home in Varanasi, India on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Deobrat represents the 11th generation of the Benares Gharana vocal lineage. India’s rich heritage of music is at risk of being lost so to preserve this precious legacy, Deobrat and his family formed the Mishra Academy of Indian Classical Music which replicates the system of passing down knowledge from master to student. Deobrat composes in traditional Indian raga style and has collaborated with Dean Evenson on the album YOGA MANTRA featuring the Gayatri Mantra and six other devotional chants.

Listen to their latest release with Deobrat & Prishant Mishra, titled YOGA Mantra:

The Gayatri Mantra is considered one of the most important, powerful, and ancient Vedic mantras. A mantra (otherwise known as a chant) is a word, sound, or sequence of phrases repeated, to aid in concentration or meditation. 

Traveling to Monet's Gardens...

Dean Evenson has always loved the paintings of Claude Monet and now he has experienced in person the beauty of the flower and water gardens that the Impressionist master cultivated and painted for 40 years. For Dean, spending five days videotaping Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France was a dream come true. There are many reasons Dean has been attracted to the paintings and life of Claude Monet. Dean and Dudley created a beautiful album based on their journey. 

Authoring Affirmations...

Life gets better when we think and feel better about ourselves.

This collection of 52 high-powered affirmations is based on practical wisdom helping us affirm and manifest the best parts of our being. Out with the old, negative, and self-limiting thoughts – in with the new, empowering and positive beliefs. Affirmations allow us to recondition, re-program and re-set our perceptions and beliefs with greater clarity and wisdom—so we can be happier, more at peace, and more successful in our lives. 

Each affirmation is complemented with beautiful contemplative photography and additional background information, allowing you to go deeper while personalizing each affirmation to fit your own life. Every week, explore and fine-tune another facet of yourself. Being able to focus on one guided meditation a week is an effective way to entrain yourself with more positive thought patterns—while allowing time to immerse, reflect, assimilate and integrate each one of these provocative and positive affirmations. 

Immerse yourself...

Incredibly rich content is presented in a pleasing way at the Soundings of the Planet website and YouTube channels. Visit again and again to enjoy hours of watching interviews or relaxing to music and videos; stay tuned for the duo's new lifestyle channel, coming soon!

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

INTERVIEW: Juan Sánchez of Barcelona, Spain on Composing, Evolving & The Latin Grammys

With just two albums and already an impressive MIN music awards nomination under his belt, Juan (aka Joan) Sánchez is a rising talent on the world music scene. The Barcelona-based sound designer and producer is already a success in the business world, and now he's ready to share a more personal aspect of his music and move into giving live performances. (Watch a performance clip in the video above.)

Juan's albums Rebirth and Now the Silence are supported by 25,000+ Spotify followers, a multitude of reviews and creative music videos made by Juan and many filmmakers who find his emotive music just the right touch for their movies. Now the Silence recently won Best Neoclassical or Minimalist album from the El Aljibe Musical program aired on Spain's Ivoox platform, and the sublime album will get its chance at The Latin Grammy Awards and the Grammy Awards this summer and fall.

In her review of Now the Silence, Rebecca Cullen (Stereo Stickman Music Blog) wrote Long-time favorite and categorically one of our generation’s most compelling and inspiring creatives – Juan Sánchez explores the topically relevant impact of enforced solitude and quiet time with this superb and aptly titled album “Now The Silence”. This album, as much so as silence itself, provides a powerful catalyst for reflecting on precisely these aspects of existence. It puts the breaks on, so to speak, and allows us time to breath, to cry, to be grateful. Undoubtedly a stand-out project from this tumultuous year – and one well worth checking back in with throughout the years to come." 

Juan announces a new album on the horizon in the video interview above, and reveals the stories behind his emotional music, overcoming his shyness, and how he found inspiration during quarantine.

Learn more about Juan and hear the music at

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Friday, May 14, 2021

For Immediate Release: Valley Teens Celebrate Giving Back!

Finishing Strong: The National League of Young Men Mid-Valley Chapter Focused on the Positive Throughout the Pandemic  


Strengthening bonds with the community, peers and between mothers and sons, the “NLYM” encourages Leadership, Philanthropy, Culture and Protocol in young men grades 9-12; the organization is wrapping up the 2020-2021 year with two live events, and a new membership drive for young men running through July 15, 2021.  

NLYM Mid-Valley teen and mother unloading food donations from truck

STUDIO CITY, CA -- The NLYM Mid-Valley Chapter is celebrating a strong finish to this challenging year, having just completed their elections for the coming 2021-2022 year. By getting creative about events and embracing Zoom for their monthly meetings, the organization’s young men continued to organize and contribute to charitable efforts in their immediate communities and beyond.  

This weekend, mothers and sons are reconnecting with fellow NLYM members for the organization's annual all-grade level Compass Brunch, a socially-distanced picnic style affair on Sunday May 16th. The Chapter’s 4th annual Senior Tribute Dinner took place in an outside setting at the Mulholland Tennis Club in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, April 25, 2021; it was a formal event, where the Mid Valley senior class young men were celebrated with commemorative dedication speeches by their fathers, a childhood pictorial montage slideshow, and each given a Compass embossed carrying case as a gift. In total, the Mid Valley senior classman volunteered more than 400 hours in philanthropic achievements during an unprecedented challenging year.  


The mission behind NLYM is to provide a unique program of leadership, service, culture and protocol opportunities, for the young men grades 9-12 in their community, while at same time strengthening the mother-son relationship as they mature into young men. Ventura Blvd Magazine featured the organization two years ago. 


Beginning last August, the Mid-Valley Chapter successfully pivoted to holding online Zoom meetings across all grade levels this year, for both the young men and their mothers. The young men’s meetings included guest speakers such as actor Michael Ian Black and retired Fire Captain Fred Lopez;  an online cooking lesson by  Dr. JJ Levenstein; planning sessions for cultural events and philanthropy activities; protocol lessons such as resume writing; the presentation of committee reports, and organizational coaching by volunteer grade level mothers. The member “Mother’s Meetings” included speakers on both fun and helpful topics such as wellness, self-care, and raising teens; in March, author and Certified Holistic Nutritionist Julie Hefner shared healthy insights from her book Nourishing Your Body & Soul for a More Radiant You. 

Volunteerism is a major tentpole of the nationwide organization, and young men at each of the four grade levels were tasked with generating safe and socially-distanced ideas for giving back to communities across the San Fernando Valley and beyond despite the pandemic.  In September 2020, each grade level group decided to embrace Zoom calls for their monthly meetings, and continued organizing charitable efforts in their immediate communities and beyond. Although they felt disconnected at time, and it was sometimes disheartening to find a place to contribute, the young men managed many good deeds and have a lot to celebrate as they wind up this year.

Some of the philanthropic activities successfully completed as an organization and individually include: 
  • The Book Truck: NLYM donated 549 brand-new books, the most impactful single book drive any group has put together for The Book Truck, which delivers “Lit Boxes” filled with books and literacy materials to foster care, homeless, and low-income service organizations across LA County. 
  • Covenant House: NLYM compiled and donated over 1000 snack packs for teens. 
  • Soles4Souls: NLYM young men gathered 1200 pairs of gently-used athletic shoes for the nonprofit, which keeps the shoes from going to waste and puts them to good use for those in need. 
  • Tutoring for Speak UP: NLYM young men are contributing tutoring services to  Speak UP, which aids approximately 300 underserved students in LA. 
  • My Stuff: The NLYM Mid-Valley class of 2022 made fleece blankets for My Stuff Bags Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps children who are removed from dangerous living situations such as households with domestic violence, homelessness, etc. 
  • North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry - NLYM members purchased, packed and donated 330 Hygiene Kits (approx. 1320 products) to The North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, a coalition of Jewish and Christian congregations working to address the problem of hunger in the community.  NLYM members also unloaded trucks of canned goods and beverages donated to the pantry. 
These young men, guided by their mothers, will be acknowledged and celebrated by their community this weekend.  In addition to their philanthropy, the young men shared cultural events, guest speakers, and training in life skills. 

Developing a well-rounded appreciation of cultural activities is another goal for the young men. This year, it was achieved by attending online holiday concerts, virtually touring The Peterson Auto Museum, and watching and discussing films online, including “The Social Dilemma” and the Billie Eilish film “The World’s a Little Blurry.” 


The young men learned that leadership is not easy, especially in a pandemic, but the enthusiasm exhibited in last week’s round of elections for the year 2021-22 have shown that things will only get better in the coming year.   


The Mid-Valley Chapter is launching a membership drive to invite new young men to apply to the organization through July 15, 2021, welcoming applications from young men who live or go to school in the communities of Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake and Burbank, CA.  There are membership opportunities for young men and mothers in our rising freshmen class (Class of 2025) and rising sophomore class (Class of 2024) and limited space in the Class of 2023. Visit the website to access the membership information form:  



National League of Young Men, Inc. (NLYM), initially named Beach City Service League, was founded in 2007 in Newport Beach, California by Diane Edmonton and Mary Pat Lucas. Their goal was to provide a unique program of leadership, service, culture and protocol opportunities for the young men in their community, while at the same time strengthening the mother-son relationship. Today there are twenty chapters with over 2,000 Mothers, Young Men and Sustainers as members of the National League of Young Men, Inc. NLYM is committed to providing a quality program for young men in grades 9-12 and developing long-term partnerships that will provide benefits to not only the young men but also their surrounding communities. National League of Young Men, Inc. aspires to offer gratifying experiences for their young men and to help them learn that the greatest joy in life truly comes from serving others and discovering the confidence and courage to do so. 


For more information:  

NLYM Mid-Valley President: Stephanie Walter, smwalter(dot)mail(at)gmail(dot)com

NLYM Mid Valley Chapter Media Contact: Shelly Greenfield at shelly(at)reddoorhome(dot)net 


Instagram: @nlyminc 

Twitter: @nlyminc 

National website:  

National Mailing address: PO Box 3403, Newport Beach, CA  92659-8403 

Image of books in the book truck

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Shunia means "Stillness of Power"

Introducing Shunia: The duo with a global sound!

The pundits say the music of Shunia will transport you, which would certainly fulfill a wish for many in these challenging times. Watching the latest video “Sa Re Sa Sa” shows how right they are!

The duo – Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson – has created two albums of genre-defying new age/global music to date. Their first album, Ascend was produced with the renowned Thomas Barquee. On their new self-titled album, Shunia, they collaborated with Tony Award®-winning producer Jamshied Sharifi, lauded for his work on Snatam Kaur’s GRAMMY®-nominated album, Beloved.

SHUNIA did a soft launch on January 15, but the full album is just now releasing to radio programmers. It features the fusion of classical instruments from different countries, multiple styles of vocals, and the focusing energy of ancient chants, to bring feelings of joy, hope, and awareness to Western culture at a crucial moment in time.

Moroccan artist Hassan Hakmoun joins Shunia on the new album that blends Sanskrit chants, Latin prayer, ancient poertry by Rumi, exquisite vocals (both artists are operatic sensations), and orchestration into a sound that feels both new and timeless.

The duo previewed SHUNIA at last year’s ShaktiFest Reunion November 13-15, which celebrates the devotional paths of yoga, Kirtan (sacred music), and meditation and launched the album on January 15, 2021.  They've since been featured in Eden Magazine, Global Heart, Seek the Joy, LA Yoga, Tones and Drones, and on national radio shows such as Echoes.

Enjoy the uplifting single “Sa Re Sa Sa” featuring Hassan Hakmoun on your favorite platform:

Or, enjoy the high-energy Sa Re Sa Sa video:

About the duo:

Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of “shunia” means stillness, receptivity. Shunia’s members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite. 

Additional videos:



"Breeze at Dawn" 

“Wah Yantee” (from their first album, Ascend)