Dean Evenson is one of the true visionaries of the Ambient/New Age musical genre–a prolific musician and composer, an entrepreneur, media pioneer and the co-founder of Billboard-charting independent music label, Soundings of the Planet. At every turn, Evenson’s life has taken bold steps in new and exciting directions. The success and pioneering nature of his creative work attest to a dynamic personality and a life-long commitment to the positive evolution of life on this planet in relationship with the natural and spiritual world. Evenson’s story is that of an artist, technological innovator, broad-minded thinker–a modern-day Renaissance man.
A Childhood In Music and Nature
Music, nature and spirituality were a part of Evenson’s life from a very early age. Growing up in Staten Island, New York as part of a musical, church-going family, Dean learned to play flute and piano, and played and sang in all types of school, church and community orchestras, bands and choirs. His affinity for music also found expression in a deep, abiding love of nature. Borrowing his elder brother’s recording equipment, Dean would often place a microphone outside his bedroom window to capture the crash of thunderstorms. While on an early bird-watching trip with the pastor of his church, Dean learned to appreciate the wonderful, musical complexity of bird-songs. “You don’t notice those things when you’re young unless they’re pointed out to you,” reflects Dean. “Hearing them for the first time like that changed my whole perspective on what nature was and what I thought about sound.” From that point on, music, nature and spirituality became the primary threads with which Evenson wove the fabric of his life.
A Scientist’s Questions
His interest in nature and a keen analytical mind initially took him into the sciences, where he pursued a Master’s degree in molecular biology under a National Science Foundation Fellowship at the University of Maine. At some point during graduate school, however, he realized that he was devoting much of his time to art and music projects on the side. When he completed his degree, his life took a dramatic turn in that direction. “I realized that I had gone into science to find out what science knew about life, but I was never looking for a career,” Dean explains. “I was entranced with determining what it takes for us to live as better human beings on this planet.” The same quest for spiritual knowledge that brought him to science propelled him toward the arts.
The New York Recording Scene
After graduate school in 1968, Dean moved to New York’s thriving East Village arts district, “to see what would happen,” as he puts it. Two important things happened right away. He moved into an apartment directly across from Dudley Dickinson, who soon became his wife and lifelong artistic and business partner. Dean also immediately found work as a recording engineer at Regent Sound Studios where he worked on albums by Eric Clapton, Les McCann and Roberta Flack.
An Emerging Technology
At the same time, Dean became intrigued with emerging video technology. For sharing ideas of peace and spiritual evolution, Evenson reasoned that the visual image is as powerful a sensory medium as audio, so he and Dudley took a risk and bought one of the first Sony portable cameras long before VCR players were available to the public. They went on the road in a converted school bus to record the alternative culture and awakening consciousness of the era.
Documenting An Era
Exploring their newfound artistic and documentary medium, Dean and Dudley became engaged in some of the defining social and popular cultural moments of the ’70s and ’80s. They produced multi-media support for a Sam Shepard play at Lincoln Center, videotaped Jefferson Airplane’s live tribute to Janis Joplin in San Francisco the night after she died, and taped the First United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. They lent audio and video recording support to the American Indian Movement during the occupation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and became profoundly inspired by Native American reverence for the living earth. An audio-video production developed out of participating in the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, with interviews of Vice President Al Gore, Bianca Jagger, the Dalai Lama and others. At the conference, Dean performed with John Denver, fellow New Age pioneer Paul Winter, and then with Gwich’in tribal leader Sarah James before an audience of 50,000.
After many years of living the life of nomadic video pioneers, Dean and Dudley finally settled for a time atop 10,000-foot Mount Lemmon, just outside Tucson, Arizona. They founded their own music label, Soundings of the Planet in 1979, and began selling homemade tapes at swap meets and health food stores to fulfill their vision of “Peace Through Music,” which became the company motto. Their beautiful, peaceful music often incorporated recordings of natural sounds–streams, bird-songs, wind, ocean waves–and the young company began to define the emerging New Age musical genre.
After years of organic growth, Soundings of the Planet has become a tremendous success, producing seven consecutive Billboard-charting albums, and being selected as a Billboard Top 10 Indie Label three years in a row. Dean himself has produced over 10 albums of his own music, including Billboard-charting Forest Rain, Desert Moon Song, Ocean Dreams, and Wind Dancer (with keyboardist Tom Barabas).
Evenson’s music has been selected for film scores, including the soundtrack to the PBS mini-series, “The Way West,” and Disney’s “Jungle Book” preview. The Windham Hill music label included Dean’s music on Path, its recent ambient music sampler. In addition, Evenson further combines his technical skills with artistic creativity, pursuing state-of-the-art music and multimedia productions, and by directing, producing and recording numerous albums by other Soundings Ensemble musicians–including vocalist Lorellei, whose collaboration with Dean marks a dynamic, new development for both artists. Evenson is renowned as a virtuoso composer, flautist and synthesizer artist, and uses his position in the music industry to promote environmental awareness, social justice and responsible business practices.
The Ongoing Vision
Dean’s life has taken many unexpected twists and has led him and his family through many remarkable, ground-breaking experiences. The same philosophy that led to their unpredictable success and vitality in the past is what continues to guide him. Dean explains, “I’ve always wanted to do the best thing for the planet and what I do is in service. I don’t have a lot of projections about what I’m supposed to be doing or where I should be going. I just follow my inner purpose and personal vision. It’s the intuition, the learning, the inner knowing of which way to go that is the important pathmark for us.” Maintaining that devotion to inner vision and the positive evolution of the planet in the ’90s continues to guide Dean and Dudley Evenson and their growing music label.
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Dudley Evenson co-founded Soundings of the Planet in 1979 with her husband Dean. Together, they have produced over 70 albums and she has been the Executive Producer, art director and copy writer for all of the Soundings releases.
A Multimedia Artist
Dudley works with video, photography, graphics, writing, music and dance. She plays harp and zither with intuition and feeling as well as tamboura, Tibetan singing bowls, hand drum and uses her voice as a complementary instrument. She has produced numerous concerts, tours, and events, including the Festival of the Creative Spirit, an insightful eight-day gathering in Tucson, which brought together many art forms, ritual, and ceremony. She coordinated the Soundings of the Planet planetarium series, utilizing the special effects and laser imagery of the sky dome, along with music, dance, slides and poetic readings.
In addition, she has written articles ranging from music and healing, chakras, affirmations and relationships to environmental and community issues which have been published in Massage and Bodywork Magazine, New Age Retailer, Napra Trade Journal, Children of the Dawn, Whatcom Watch, and The Bellingham Herald. She is currently working on an autobiographical book about Soundings of the Planet and her family’s adventurous journey from the ’60s to the new millennium.
Dudley is also an environmental activist in her community. She produced The Solutions Project, a year long focus on networking with a different theme each month. She also spearheaded the Interurban Neighbors group for which she and Dean produced several videos, newsletters, and community events aimed at saving a local urban forest and its wetlands from development. After 23 years of work the 100 Acre Wood was officially ‘saved’.
Dudley and Dean have been together since 1968 and have three children: Cristen, Sarah and Elijah and one granddaughter Cybele..
Music and Video featuring Dudley Evenson
In the classic style of great, onstage performers, Barabas delivers a musically eloquent experience that builds rapport with his audience and invites them to fall in love with his graceful streams of sound.
Tom Barabas spent his early years immersed in the diverse musical traditions of European culture and those of North and South America. But he did not expect to become the sought-after pianist and composer that he is today.National reviewer, P.J. Birosik’s response to Tom’s music echoes the sentiments of his fans across the country –” Barabas composes richly harmonic and well-articulated pieces that satisfy the soul and stir the imagination.” He performs with an intimacy, spontaneity and living warmth that sets him apart from other instrumentalists. His technique combines classical, Latin and jazz traditions in an unmistakably personal and joyful style.
An Early Start
Tom began playing music at the age of four in Budapest, Hungary. By age 12, he had attracted the interest and praise of his piano instructors and he made his public debut at the Liszt Conservatory of Music. In 1949 his family emigrated to Venezuela where
he studied classical piano and composition at the Venezuela Conservatory of Music in Caracas – Venezuela’s “Juliard.” He earned his Master’s Degree in 1957.
The Live Experience
The classical training of the conservatory, the vibrant Latin and Caribbean pop music of Venezuela, and the raw energy of North American rock-n-roll all have contributed to the fresh compositional style that has come to be Tom’s signature.
Barabas has had a lifelong love-affair with live performance. After a successful career performing daily on stage, radio and television in Venezuela, Tom moved to San Diego in 1966 seeking greater opportunities. The Southern California music scene inspired and cultivated his interest in jazz and soon he was opening for such jazz greats as Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Ramsey Lewis. He later became the house pianist for a five-star resort and it was during his tenure there that his creativity and innovation flourished and he began playing his own compositions.
A seasoned professional dedicated to originality, Tom’s career has been built on his unique blend of personal composition and trademark style. His sensitive and passionate relationship to his music is a true dance of the heart.
Tom Barabas has a nationwide following. He’s released 12 CD’s, three of which have made the Billboard Charts. Sedona Suite, perhaps his best loved album, charted #12 and held that position for 29 weeks! Other albums of note include Wind Dancer (with Dean Evenson), reaching Billboard’s Top-15, and Classica Nouveau, which reached #18 on Billboard’s Top-20. He has also released Journey Back to Sedona, Mosaic, Piano Impressions, Magic in December, Soaring and Back To The Garden (both with Dean Evenson), It’s a New Life, Romantic Rhapsodies and his newest release, Tom Barabas Live.
“With just a solo grand piano, Tom Barabas has created an absolutly glorious album that highlights his virtuosity as a performer and allows his unique artistry as a composer to shine through.” — Ted Cox, TOWER RECORDS, NAR Reviewer
Tom has enjoyed the spotlight across the country. He is sought by corporations, cruise lines, production companies, concert and program planners, hotels, spas and resorts to bring a level of quality and beauty to any event. He wrote and performed an original composition for the Heartkeys AIDS Benefit Concert and the Heartkeys album and has performed for the American Cancer Society and the AIDS Foundation of America. Some of his better known performance venues have been with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Delta Airlines and Princess Cruise Lines.
“Tom’s performance was sensational. The artistry of his music and his personal charm enriched the evening for everyone. We thank him for sharing his exceptional talents with us.” — Nancy Mulligan, ASPEN Productions, Inc.
More Music by Tom Barabas
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Singh Kaur possessed both a keen compositional mind and a striking, crystalline voice. Lorellei’s musical journey was one of unique and magical magnitude. Under the name Singh Kaur, her music reached a wide audience through the hugely popular Crimson Series albums recorded with Kim Robertson. Shortly thereafter, she joined Soundings of The Planet to produce her first Billboard-charting album, Instruments of Peace (1988), followed by What Child Is This, a Christmas album produced with Dean Evenson.
Lorellei was first exposed to the life of music at the age of five, listening to arias sung by her operatic grandmother. At age 14, she bought her first guitar and has been composing and arranging ever since. Her lyrical concepts can be traced to the 14 years that she spent in a yoga ashram studying ancient spiritual teachings and writing music to complement sacred texts.
The “Big Source”
For Lorellei, music was about something larger than individual accomplishment or creativity. Her lyric creations are love songs from a woman to her lover; from a mother to her children; and from a spiritual seeker to the Creator as the beloved. They are a form of poetry subtly teaching universal truths through the vehicle of music. “This is music about tapping into the ‘Big Source:’ the breath of life that permeates all things. I conceived this music to work as a catalyst, bringing people closer to that energy.”
Lorellei’s message to women in particular is one of personal empowerment, reflecting life’s challenges on the way to regaining a sense of self. “Have faith in your love of God and relate to the God in one another,” she advises. “Don’t give away your power. You have to be your own alchemist – we’re in a Vision of Love – one fine love, all-powerful love, all-healing love, oh yeah!”
Lorellei was an intense and powerful artist who will be missed by the music community and her many friends. She died just a few years ago of ovarian cancer.
Soundings Music featuring Singh Kaur / Loerellei
As the third of four musically talented generations, d’Rachael taps a deep artistic current. Her big-band leader grandfather tought her flute at an early age, and her pianist mother led the family in hearthside musical concerts. d’Rachael went on to study classical flute, touring with various ensembles and performing in symphony orchestras. She spent ten years studying jazz, harmony and composition through the Berkley School of Music with piano master Jimmy Green in Phoenix, AZ and performing throughout the region.
A Musical Relationship
d’Rachael met Dean and Dudley Evenson, co-founders of Soundings of the Planet, in the early years of the creation of this independent label. By then an accomplished harpist, she added the gentle tones of the harp to Dean’s flute, and together they gave birth to an inspired and magical sound that spawned a generation of peaceful earth music. For sixteen years they have maintained this unique collaboration, on numerous recordings and in live, improvisational concerts.
An Exotic Home
The beautiful watery world of Jalisco, Mexico beckoned d’Rachael, and she has made a home along this exotic coastline for the last sixteen years. She had the pleasure this year of creating a music video called “Three Generations” with her accomplished mother Ethel on accordian and her talented daughter Sapphire on violin.
d’Rachael continues to perform her jazz, classical and new age music in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, collaborating with musicians from around the world who pass through this lush rainforest in search of beauty and peace.
Soundings Music featuring d’Rachael
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SEE ALL TITLES BY SCOTT HUCKABAY
Scott Huckabay’s live performances are brilliant. Left-handed and soul-inspired, he has toured extensively, opening for such artists as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne, Sarah McLachlan, Bob Weir, Bonnie Raitt, and Joe Satriani.
The Live Ritual
With incense burning between the strings, he begins a ritual. Dancing in a circle, he shakes his blue dolphin guitar and lifts it up to his face. Bare feet pounding, the stage echoes like rolling thunder as he leads us on a mesmerizing musical journey. Scott’s live presence, along with his exciting original compositions and unique use of effects, helped to earn him the honor of Guitar Player of The Year in the Los Angeles-based Bam Magazine.
A Powerful Recovery
Scott’s story is both powerful and inspirational. In 1987 he was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident. Doctors told him that he would not walk or play the electric guitar again. Fortunately, Scott ignored those dreaded words and began his inspiring recovery, which included an acoustic guitar and the will and desire to play once again. A remarkable healing process ensued which Scott attributes to the new music that flowed through his soul, along with a full year spent swimming with wild dolphins and whales. It is his mission to share this music with the world in order to help others find joy and inner peace.
A fretboard master who is reshaping the acoustic instrumental genre, Scott has developed over 200 open guitar tunings and his intricate licks incorporate elements of rock, folk, blues and fusion. He peppers a rhythmic groove with the warping and bending of notes, complete with an array of harmonic surprises. His rich and multi-textured sound includes percussive interludes, and creates the illusion of three or four musicians performing the same music.
More Music by Scott Huckabay
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Li Xiangting (pronounced Lee Shawn-ting) is a master performer and considered the world’s leading authority on the guqin (pronounced gu chin). This exquisite seven-stringed zither very much speaks the language of the soul of China. It is a foundational instrument in China, as important as the piano is in the west.
Li is from the Jilin Province in China, and follows in the musical tradition of the Masters Zha Fuxi (1895-1976) and Wu Jinglue (1907-1987) with whom he studied. Li graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, in 1963 and began his career in teaching. In 1989, he accepted a fellowship at Cambridge University in England. While in Great Britain, he lectured on the guqin and dongxiao as a Visiting Fellow at the Music Research Center of the Afro-Asian Institute, University of London.
He returned to China in 1994 and gained the title of Distinguished Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music. In addition to his teaching, Professor Li composes and arranges pieces and gives recitals internationally. He is one of the few masters of the guqin who improvises and he is dedicated to the revitalization of interest in the guqin.
Deobrat Mishra is one of India’s premiere and promising young sitar artists. When he was born, his father sang the Indian musical scales to him at the age of five, he began teaching him sitar. He learned table from his mother. At age six he have his first performance, and at age 11 performed for his first time on All India Radio.He was chosen by the Indian government to receive the award of Best Young Sitarist in India. He recently received to Jewel of Sound Award, India’s equivalent of the Grammy, for his sitar playing.
Pandit Shivnath Mishra and his family have descended from a prominent musical lineage of Benaras Gharana going back several generations. In order to preserve this heritage, so precious to India, and make it accessable to children, Pt. Mishra and his family decided to create the “Benaras Gharana Baccha (Children’s) Project. Learn more here.
Pandit Shivnath Mishra is one of the most respected sitar masters in India (Pandit means master musician). He is a master teacher and is Lecturer and Head of the Music Department at the Sanskrit University of Benares. He was born into a well-known musical family in the Benares Gharana (ancestral lineage) and at five years old he began studying vocal music with his father Badar Prasad Mishra. When he was eight years old he began studying sitar with his uncle. In a family of many fine classical Indian vocalists, he is the first to master the sitar, playing it in Thumari style, characterized be a strong emphasis on melody and deep emotion. He is well known on All India Radio & Television and was a gold medal winner in the All India Music Conferencein Calcutta.Pandit Shivnath Mishra and his family have descended from a prominent musical lineage of Benaras Gharana going back several generations. In order to preserve this heritage, so precious to India, and make it accessable to children, Pt. Mishra and his family decided to create the “Benaras Gharana Baccha (Children’s) Project.
Fulbright Award-winning drummer, Daniel Paul, composes on the rare and expressive tabla tarong, blending ancient classical and modern folk drumming styles of India with western music, instrumentation and influences.
Studying With The Greats
In order to understand some of the world’s oldest and most challenging musical traditions, Daniel completed an intensive nine-year study of Raga vocals and tabla drumming with the legendary Ali Akbar Khan, Zakir Hussain and Swapan Chauduri. Daniel’s primary instructor and mentor, Ali Akbar Khan, is a National Treasure of India and has been hailed as “the greatest musician in the world” by concert violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
As Ali Akbar Khan’s personal assistant and tamboura (string drone instrument) accompanist for six years, and occasionally as Ravi Shankar’s tamboura accompanist, Daniel Paul participated in six consecutive world tours, performing in many of the great venues of the world. These include Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, as well as many of the larger European concert halls. Along the way, he has performed and recorded with such artists as Jai Uttal, Bruce BecVar, Raphael, Lorellei, Dean Evenson, Scott Huckabay, Bob Kindler, Govi, Karunesh, Hawaii’s legendary Cecilio and Kapono and many more.
A Medley Of Styles
Working under a Fulbright Grant in 1987, and to further augment his classical training, Daniel Paul conducted a hands-on video survey of North Indian folk drumming styles. Immersion in the traditions of the East, rigorous training with exceptional teachers and a deep love for all the world’s cultures have given Daniel an unusual proficiency for composing and performing in both Eastern and Western musical styles. In composing these melodic world-beat songs for this long-anticipated solo debut album, Daniel drew inspiration from the music of India, as well as the great cultural diversity and natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands where he makes his home.
“I create music with the sincere wish that it help unite the many cultures of the world. I have faith that music has the power to do this,” says Daniel. Rhythms of Paradise offers a musical window into the influences and experiences of a remarkably talented and accomplished artist, and features the work of many of Daniel Paul’s most respected musical friends and mentors.
Soundings Music featuring Daniel Paul