Prism: The Human Family Songbook

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Beth Neilsen Chapman remains on the spiritual journey that began with the moving meditations on life and death on her powerful 1997 CD, Sand and Water, penned in the wake of her husband's passing, and continued on her celebrated 2004 collection Hymns, a celebration of Catholic praise. Exploring the universal spiritual light infusing diverse religions, Chapman here presents two discs of music. The first consists of original and traditional songs that testify to the common ground shared by all faiths, beginning with the propulsive, percussive "The Mystery"; the others, each in its own way, also demonstrate the common humanity informing different religions and different ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Beth Neilsen Chapman remains on the spiritual journey that began with the moving meditations on life and death on her powerful 1997 CD, Sand and Water, penned in the wake of her husband's passing, and continued on her celebrated 2004 collection Hymns, a celebration of Catholic praise. Exploring the universal spiritual light infusing diverse religions, Chapman here presents two discs of music. The first consists of original and traditional songs that testify to the common ground shared by all faiths, beginning with the propulsive, percussive "The Mystery"; the others, each in its own way, also demonstrate the common humanity informing different religions and different styles of music -- from pop-country on "God Is In (Goddess In)" to hip-hop on "My Religion" to a stately Protestant hymn form in the stirring "For the Beauty." On the second disc, Chapman goes global, singing songs centered on the spiritual quest in nine different languages, including English (the stark, a cappella rendering of "The Flame"); Zulu; Welsh (her voice an ethereal near-whisper in a tender old Gaelic hymn, "Durrow"); Farsi; and others. She concludes her ambitious journey with a searching, solemn "Navajo Chant" to summon the Great Spirit, with Bobby Klein adding a rumbling, commanding baritone vocal, accompanied only by John Ragusa's airy flute lines. Remarkable and challenging, Prism is the stuff of life, and Beth Neilsen Chapman's finest hour.
All Music Guide - J. Poet
Beth Nielsen Chapman's warm, honeyed voice has a homey, intimate feel that's perfect for the songs here, religious and spiritual tunes from a variety of traditions and many writers. Chapman contributes several stunners of her own that could easily become pop religious standards and covers material by Jean Sibelius, 19th century British poet Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, Joe Henry, and Hafez as well as traditional and contemporary material from South Africa, Tibet, Cuba, Iran, Israel, India, and the Hopi Nation of Arizona. This 23-song, two-disc set is the second album of an ongoing project Chapman started in the '90s in a desire to pay tribute to the Earth's great religious musical traditions. Chapman's liner notes describe the specific genesis of the album. Self-penned liner notes can often come off coy or overly sentimental, but on Prism they're just as sincere and moving as the songs she's chosen to record. The musicians she works with come from many traditions -- the album could just as easily be filed under world music as pop, folk, or singer/songwriter -- and while all the songs are spiritual in nature, they never sound like sermons. Many, in fact, are graced by a gentle humor that's often missing in spiritual songs. There's not a weak track or a wasted note here, but some songs naturally stand out. "God Is In (Goddess In)," an original with a long list of co-writers, is an ecumenical salute to spirituality that nods to Christians, Jews, Muslims, pagans, Hindus, Rastas, and even atheists. "My Religion (Sweet Love)" is a rap -- yes, you read that right -- that prays for unity and transcendence, with an Arab-flavored Cuban rhythm and classic Indian and African-American gospel backing vocals. "For the Beauty of the Earth" is a hymn of thanksgiving written by Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, its unadorned poetry simply delivered by Chapman and pianist Gary Malkin. "Beautiful Fool" was penned by country hitmaker Don Henry, a moving tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and non-violence that will have any feeling person weeping by the second verse. "Yemaya" is a Santeria song praising the Mother of Orishas, the spirit of the sea. The quietly driving rhythm track blends Cuban and West African instruments, drums, balafons, banjos, booming udu clay drums, and shakers with passionate vocals from Chapman and Annie and Marie Burns. "Bad-e Saba" is a poem by Hafez set to music by Nader Majd, who shares lead vocals and plays tar. The simple droning arrangement fills the air with hovering overtones, while the vocals ornament the end of each line with quivering melismas. "Pilgrim of Sorrow" is one of the oldest-known Negro spirituals, probably written in the hold of slave ships on the way to the American South. The vocal arrangement by Chapman and Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock is stunning. "In Yonder Valley," another bravura a cappella performance, is one of the oldest-known Shaker hymns, a song that doesn't mention heaven or God, but rather the unity of all beings and the beauty of springtime coming after a long winter. Secular and sacred, newly written and ancient, fully orchestrated or delivered with a single voice, the songs all resonate with a deep spirituality that will awaken the timeless voice within us all.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/5/2008
  • Label: Thirty Tigers
  • UPC: 898161001772
  • Catalog Number: 610017
  • Sales rank: 76,071

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Beth Nielsen Chapman Primary Artist, Organ, Synthesizer, Bouzouki, Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Tuba, Keyboards, Ukulele, Vocals, Background Vocals, Bazouki, finger cymbals, Synthesizer Pads
Bill Lloyd Bass, Bass Guitar
Bonnie Raitt Background Vocals
Matt Rollings Piano
Martin Allcock Bass, Mandocello
Annie Burns Background Vocals
Marie Burns Background Vocals
Ernest Chapman Drums, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Background Vocals
Viktor Krauss Bass, Bass Guitar
Victor Masondo Bass
Takaaki Masuko Percussion, Shaker
Susan Mouton Cello, Viola
Kirby Shelstad Percussion, Drums, Zither, Slide Guitar, finger cymbals
Michael McGoldrick Flute
Annie Roboff Organ, Keyboards
Richie Stearns Banjo
John Ragusa Flute
Nery F. Arevalo Shaker, Udu
Bobby Klein Vocals
Ivo Ivanov Viola
Kara Reed Track Performer
Dafydd Roberts Flute
Keith Horne Bass, Bass Guitar
Jim Roberts Percussion, Balafon, Shaker
Doctor Ysaye M. Barnwell Vocals
Godfrey Mgcina Percussion
Gwenan Gibbard Harp, Vocals
Drew Ramsey Electric Guitar
Christina Quinn Background Vocals
Ruth McGinnis Violin
Jessica Friedman Bass, Vocals
Keio Stroud Drums
Lodovico Gabenela Double Bass
Jessie Friedman Bass Guitar, Vocals
Parker Leonard Background Vocals
Carel Henn Cello, Viola
Barbara Malinovski Violin
Dr. Nader Majd Tar
Mahadevan Vocals
Mpilo Tutu Background Vocals
Evert van Niekerk Viola
Tripp Dudley Percussion
Elbe Henkins Violin
Camelia Onea Violin
The Vine Street Christian Church Children's Choir Vocals
Irene Tsoniff Violin
Olga Korvink Viola
Elsabe Laubscher Viola
Technical Credits
Beth Nielsen Chapman Arranger, Programming, Producer, Engineer, Liner Notes, Executive Producer, Artwork, Vocal Arrangements, Audio Production
Martin Allcock Arranger, Producer, Cover Photo
Ernest Chapman Programming
David Leonard Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Victor Masondo Producer
Gary Remal Malkin Arranger, Producer, String Arrangements, keyboard arrangements, Audio Production, Piano Arrangement
Kirby Shelstad Producer, Engineer
Huw Warren Arranger
Trina Shoemaker Engineer
William Sullivan Graphic Design, Graphic Editing
Annie Roboff Producer, Audio Production, Language Adaptation
Joseph Arthur Engineer
Erick Jaskowiak Engineer
Andrew Mendelson Mastering
Jim Roberts Arranger, Producer, Engineer
Eryl B. Davies Engineer
Evert de Munnik Engineer
Mike Paragone Engineer
Doctor Ysaye M. Barnwell Arranger, Vocal Arrangements
Sandy Mueller Graphic Design, Graphic Editing
Brian Pruitt drum programming
William Sender Engineer
Heather Sturm Engineer
E. Chapman Programming
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    Posted January 2, 2010

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