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.
Throughout the 1970s, Dean and Dudley had been pioneers in the half-inch video movement. They traveled the country in a converted school bus with their growing family, documenting the new consciousness as it was emerging. With their black and white Sony ‘portapack’, they videotaped Native Americans, Indian gurus, mystics, healers, artists, environmentalists and new thought leaders. However, the early video technology predated the invention of video cassettes and VHS players had not yet been introduced so there was no easy delivery system to distribute the information they were gathering. At the end of the 70s, they had hundreds of hours of videotapes, but no way to share them on a wide scale.
A specific impetus for founding Soundings of the Planet came about when they recorded a lecture by spiritual teacher, Baba Ram Dass, in Tucson, Arizona. When they offered for sale tapes of ‘An Evening with Ram Dass’, they received 50 orders. They were pleased with the response and realized that people had audio cassette players at home and here was a delivery system that they could access. Thus, after a decade of video art and documentation, Dean and Dudley decided to move their focus back to the audio field and start putting out their music on cassette tape.
Dean had been playing flute since he was ten years old and had performed in classical orchestras, quartets, church groups and later in folk and rock bands. After receiving his Masters Degree in Molecular Biology in 1968, he had moved to New York City’s East Village and landed in a fifth floor walk up across the hall from Dudley Dickinson who soon became his wife and creative partner. In Manhattan, Dean had been a 16 track recording engineer so returning to the music field wasn’t a far stretch.
To create their first music recording, Dean spent the night in Sabino Canyon near Tucson. In the morning, he set up two microphones about 100 feet apart in order to make a stereo recording of the birds at dawn in the desert. He took that recording back to the studio where he and Dudley played their flute and harp, creating their first peaceful music recording that was inspired by the sounds of nature. Their good friend Jonathan Kramer played his sonorous cello with Dean and their first cassette tape (Desert Dawn Song) was born, probably one of the first albums to combine music with the sounds of nature. Rather than just go out with one tape, they decided to join forces with several other musical friends and create their own label. They sold those first tapes at swap meets and health food stores and began to learn the process of distributing music.
It wasn’t long before they began to receive letters and testimonials from people attesting to the relaxing and healing effects of their music. What started out as interest from massage therapists and innovative health care practitioners has grown to be an important adjunct to healing in both mainstream as well as alternative medicine. After three decades, their albums and videos continue to provide Peace Through Music and Health Through Music to a world in great need of healing solace.
Soundings of the Planet has produced over 60 music albums and several DVDs. Dean now videotapes documentaries and nature music videos in high definition and of course their CDs and digital downloads are available everywhere. Over the years, the Evensons have been magnets for outstanding musicians from around the world. Some of their collaborators include Hungarian born pianist and composer Tom Barabas, trance guitarist Scott Huckabay, Chinese guqin master Li Xiangting, father-son Indian sitarists The Mishras, Native American elder Cha-das-ska-dum, singing bowls master Walter Makichen, heavenly vocalist Singh Kaur, d’Rachael, harpist from Mexico, and even the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Soundings of the Planet’s music has been used to help build awareness and support a variety of social and environmental concerns such as rain forest preservation, saving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Tibetan and Native American issues, donating music to rescue workers and grief counselors in New York City after 911, and in teaching patients and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center how to use music to deal with PTSD and wounds of war. Most significantly, has been the effect of the music in the health and wellness field which continues to grow as the stresses of modern life reveal the increasing need for peace and the benefits of music for meditation, relaxation and stress reduction.