Group: Celtic Nation
VOCALESE SPECIALIST ANNETTE CANTOR SINGS SONGS TO THE GODDESS
Annette Cantor’s recording, Songs to the Goddess, contains musical meditations inspired by sacred deities from around the world, but focusing on the universal Mother Earth. These song prayers -- featuring both Cantor’s wordless vocalizing and acclaimed new age music pioneer C.G. Deuter’s instrumentation -- praise the planet, give thanks for birth and living, and also ask for guidance in creating a good life.
“Two of the most common prayers in any religion are thankfulness and asking for help,” says Cantor, “but that is just the beginning. Goddess figures represent archetypal energies that help us in leading better lives, in going deeper and getting to know ourselves, and pushing beyond our norm. As individuals we should start with a gratitude for life and our environment, and then explore our inherent creativity, and finally reach out with compassion to others. I want my music to assist in this growth process.”
Annette Cantor’s music can be purchased either as a CD or as digital downloads at online sales sites such as CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and many others. For more information about Cantor, visit her website at www(dot)annettesings(dot)com.
In addition to Songs to the Goddess, Cantor has an impressive series of vocal albums: Songs to the Earth (Gregorian chants and vocalese set to Native American flute, cello and percussion), Music for Yoga (similar to Songs to the Earth but designed for any movement practice), Adore Te (improvisations on Gregorian chants with classic new age music performed by Deuter), Sacred Fusion (ancient Dhrupad singing by Shanti Shivani mixed with Gregorian chants by Cantor), and Die Blaue Blume (a collection of German folk songs with additional singing and accompaniment by Deuter and others). Songs to the Earth was widely acclaimed for mixing traditional European and Native American musical elements, and the CD went to #7 on the international monthly Top 100 Zone Music Reporter airplay chart, was the #30 album of the year (out of 2,300 recordings) and was a Top 5 finalist for Best Native American Album at the ZMR Awards.
Cantor and Deuter are both Germans who met while living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Deuter, long known as a top new age instrumentalist, wanted to explore the addition of vocals, so Cantor sang with him (and played violin) in concert and on several of his recordings including Garden of the Gods, Earth Blue and Mystery of Light. He returned the favor by performing the music on three of Cantor’s recordings. On Songs to the Goddess, Cantor and Deuter co-wrote the songs. Cantor did all the singing, often layering her vocals to create several distinctive parts. Deuter played all of the instruments including wood flute, acoustic guitar, koto, udu, tongue drum, bells, gongs, shakers, additional percussion and synthesizer.
Although Cantor has always done some vocal improvising on her recordings and in concert, with Songs to the Goddess she takes it a step further since all but one small vocal part is wordless singing. The exception is a background Buddhist drone chant on the song “Tara.” On “Gaia,” for example, she says, “I felt as if I had made up a new language.”
Cantor’s style of incredibly-lovely soaring and floating vocals began its development when she was a child growing up in Germany (“I was mesmerized when I heard Gregorian chants sung in the Catholic church”). In high school she studied Latin which enabled her to interpret the words being sung. In college in Vienna she trained as an opera singer. She was particularly drawn to the most famous female composer of Gregorian chants, Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th Century German religious leader, early human rights activist and visionary. Even now Cantor tries to sing von Bingen material daily. Eventually Cantor’s studies revealed that the chants of the Gregorian tradition have historically been open to improvisation by individual singers which gave her the freedom to stretch the boundaries by not only improvising but also bringing the chants into new musical contexts. In addition, Cantor’s wordless vocals are specifically designed to capture the mood and feelings she is presenting. She has developed a unique style of soulful emotive expression with her singing strengthened by technical expertise and classical studies.
“The music on Songs to the Goddess was created specifically for meditation and healing,” Cantor says, “but also creativity exploration, personal growth, exercise, relaxation, massage therapy, sleep assistance, birthing and childhood development, and creating a life-affirming atmosphere conducive to positivity. The music allows the listener to explore their own inner consciousness because there are no words to activate the rational mind. Wordless vocals also transcend languages, cultures and countries.”
The album begins with “Tara” representing a Buddhist goddess from Hinduism in India. “She is the great mother, but also the mother of compassion with an openness to all possibilities.” The song “Spider Woman” comes out of the Native American tradition -- “very earthy, the provider of good harvests and nourishment.” The piece features Cantor singing choir-like with eight-layered vocals plus the sounds of wood flute, thunderdrums, rainstick and crickets. “Yemana” is a goddess from Latin American countries including the Caribbean’s Cuba and Haiti. “She is the patron of women, especially pregnant women, and she is associated with the ocean. The music is like a lullaby with a single vocal and light percussion, very dreamy.” “Isis” is from the Egyptian culture -- “the giver of all life, the ideal mother, the patroness of nature and magic, and the goddess of death and rebirth. We used my voice as a drone sound followed by drums and a mandolin toward the end.”
“Gaia,” from the ancient Greeks, “is the universal earth mother and personifies the earth. In creating this music, I wanted to give back, to show it is our turn to care for Mother Earth.” “Kuan Yin,” explains Cantor, “has different spellings throughout Asia, but is a Bodhisattva, an enlightened Buddhist goddess, the great mother of compassion who chooses to come back to earth to help others. This slow piece features the koto, a traditional instrument in Japan.” The “Demeter” goddess comes from Greek mythology, “presiding over the harvest and the underworld, life and death, sunny summer agriculture and the darkness of winter. We used low-note marimba bells.” The album ends with “Venus,” the Roman version of the goddess of passionate love. “The music tries to capture a morning sunrise, a celebration of love and beauty, and the feeling of growth in nature.”
Growing up in Germany, Annette studied singing and violin performance, and was involved in school choirs and orchestras. Her early musical influences ranged from classical (Bach) to jazz (Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson). Cantor studied voice at the Vienna Academie of Music and earned a degree in voice teaching. She became involved with the healing arts, initially utilizing dance and movement, and after moving to New York City she also incorporated singing into her healing practices. In New York she took an intense three-year training program studying the Alexander Technique (an energy-healing practice with the patient developing awareness of physical alignment as they move) and became a certified teacher. She is now training to also become a practitioner of Reconnective Therapy.
To get closer to nature, Annette moved to Santa Fe, drawn by the spiritual community she found there “and the good scent of the air.” She began pursuing vocal improvisations, both in healing situations and as a spiritual performer. She sang in front of the Dalai Lama at the World Sacred Music Festival in Los Angeles, at the Resonant Wave Festival in Berlin and at a concert celebrating World Water Day in Santa Fe. Her deep love of poetry has been expressed in performances with distinguished poets Donna Thomson, Jane Hirshfield, Drew Dellinger, Roger Housden and Rumi poetry presenter Coleman Barks. Cantor often sings the poems after they have been recited. She also gives voice lessons and workshops which combine her healing practice with patients breathing and singing for therapeutic effect.
Cantor states, “I hope that my music will create an atmosphere that assists people to hear their own inner voice and tap into their creativity. Living from that inner source can facilitate a re-birth, a new phase of a person’s life. When that happens, the goddess is smiling.”