Featured Artist

Cosmic Rock

(Photo by Carrie Z. Goodykoontz)

Our Featured Artist on a rain drenched thursday November night is a very special musician and spiritual traveler North Carolina's Beth Brown. Beth focuses on the pursuit of healing and a spiritual calling with harp playing, music and more. We had a pow wow with Beth and talked a little about her background, music influences, her calling in music and healing work and many interesting topics. A very special and fascinating conversation for our readers about the unique, bright star that is Beth Brown and her life's musical and magical journey.

 

1.Hey Beth how’re you? Good to connect with you today.

 

It’s great to connect with you, Gid...thanks for the opportunity for me to share what I’m up to these days.

 

2.Tell us a little bit about your background. Are you from North Carolina originally? What inspired you to become a musician? 

Well, I’ve been in Charlotte since the late 80’s, but I grew up in a small town in SC, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mtns. We moved there when I was very young and my father was dying of a brain tumor.  He wanted to spend his last days on my grandparents farm which was peaceful, yet buzzing with the vibrant energies of the farm animals. He would sit out under the giant magnolia tree in his wheelchair and talk to the crows and taught me how to do the same.  It was a very musical experience...cawing back and forth with the crows.  On his deathbed, my father made my mother promise to immerse me in the arts...piano, voice, dance lessons...he told her it was important.  So, I became a musician at a very young age.  I’ve been on stage in one way or another since I was 6 years old. 

 

3.In your early days were there any albums or concerts you enjoyed that inspired you and in what way?

Oh, yeah, for sure.  Early on, it was the Beatles and the Stones, John Lennon, Elton John, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Queen..heck, even the early Seals & Crofts...I was drawn to bands that really knew how to weave masterful harmonies and songs I could sing along to...most of the music in the 70’s was good for that, honestly.  An album I remember being blown away by early on was Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Alan Parsons Project...just straight up stellar songwriting and masterful orchestration on that album.  Concerts I was taken by early on...I gotta say, as a young girl who fantasized about being a rock star, when I first witnessed Stevie Nicks on stage, well that sealed the deal for me.  As a young musician, I was super inspired by Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Chrissy Hynde, Tori Amos, Judie Tzuke, Nick Drake, then later PJ Harvey...they’ve all been huge influences in my work. 

 

 

 4.You have also become involved for a long time now with your love of playing harp and it’s therapeutic benefits physically, spiritually, etc. How did you become a harp player and find your way to this musical calling? I know you are and have always been a deeply spiritual individual. How did you become involved in this blend of your music and spiritual calling?

 

Yeah, I play a lot of different instruments, but this vision of a celtic harp kept showing up in my head back in the fall of 2011.  I shared that vision with my son, who was about 15 yrs old at the time, and, without my knowing, he saved his money and bought me a baby celtic harp for my birthday in the spring of 2012.  I sort of played around with it, but didn’t really think I could play it very well.  Then in the summer of 2012, my mother became very ill and hospice was called in.  I was packing to go be with her in South Carolina and, as a last minute decision, grabbed the little harp as I headed out the door.  So, the next week, as my mom moved through the various stages one goes through at the end of life, I would intuitively pluck the strings of the harp, noticing which ones calmed her and which ones didn’t.  The last words she said to me were, “Beth, I want you to play harp for the sick and the dying.”  I was like, “Ma, I don’t really know how to play the harp.”  She told me that I did and that’s what I was gonna do.  A couple of days later, it was obvious that she was at the end of her life. I remember leaning down into her chest to soak up her mother smell, rubbing her forehead with lavender oil, and telling her it would be okay if she went ahead and left.  With a sigh, she let out her last breath, and she flew.  And as she flew, I felt this incredible surge of the most loving energy I’ve ever experienced fly straight through me and out of me.  I walked outside and said to myself, “well I guess I’m gonna be playing harp for sick people.”  The next week, I have no idea how, I found the International Harp Therapy Program in San Diego and immediately enrolled.  Two years later, after the very intensive studies (think a Hogwartz mystery school for musicians) I graduated as a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner.  It’s a sacred path with the harp.  It’s my passion to assist those who are transitioning into, through and out of this world with my harp medicine.  The cool thing about it is, I can do it from wherever I am in the world.  Have harp, will travel. 

 

5.In your musical healing work you state that the key is resonate tone, that everything that exists is vibration. We are sound, vibration and the importance of frequency of cells. Can you tell us a little about these concepts? 

Sure. Yeah, so everything that exists is energy.  Energy is vibration.  Vibration has a frequency, so therefore, everything that exists is frequency...or sound. Everything is music.  We are music.  Every cell, every organ in our body is vibrating at its own unique frequency.  If those frequencies are “out of tune” then dis-harmony or dis-ease sets in.  Just as our cells and our organs have their own frequency or tone, our entire being has its own resonant tone.  Tuning into the resonant tone of the individual, or what’s happening in the space or room where I’m playing, is the key to my work as a therapeutic harp practitioner.  I’m trained to provide a “cradle of sound” to soothe, relax and calm the body, mind and spirit by utilizing the ancient modes of the harp. 

 

6.How is music and sound the medicine of the future?

Music and sound have been used for healing since ancient times. The harp is particularly effective in sound healing as it has the richest tones of any acoustic instrument. Because our bodies are made up of approximately 80% water, our cells respond particularly well to sound and music.  The wonderful thing about using sound in medicine is that it’s non-invasive.  There are no negative side effects when music is used as medicine.  Some of the benefits of harp medicine, as research has shown, is that it helps lower blood pressure and stabilizes heart rate, reduces the need for anesthesia and pain medication, relieves anxiety and enhances a state of calm and well-being, reduces stress and calms the immune system, accelerates surgical recovery...as well as provides a musical “bridge” for those transitioning out of this world to cross over. 

 

7.Tell us a little about leading a listener on a sound journey?

So, I do group harp sound soaks as well as private sound healing sessions which are both around an hour long in length.  In a group sound journey everyone lies down on a mat on the floor, maybe with a pillow and a blanket or whatever they need to get comfortable.  I usually begin by setting the tone of the room by playing one of my singing bowls.  As we begin, I’ll usually ask everyone to silently set an intention for what they want to release or attract during the journey and I’ll silently set an intention for the group as well.  I then tune into what’s happening in the space and intuitively begin to play my harp.  My harp, whose name is Keturah meaning “incense rising to spirit,” is a small celtic folk harp that I can strap on which allows me to move around the room.  So I’ll move around the room and hover over each participant, delivering the harp medicine that I feel is appropriate for each person.  Every note I play is in the moment. I also usually receive messages to deliver to the individual as I hover over them and I deliver this messages through the tones as I am playing.  I continue to move around the room with different sound tools such as Ocean Drum, tuning forks, Tibetan singing bowls, rattles, Turkish drum, tingshas, my voice...and whatever else I can come up with. It’s truly an incredible experience for me as well as for everyone in the room.  Someone once told me after a harp journey that they felt as though they had just taken a bath in a vat full of bliss.  I think that’s a spot on...a healing harp journey with me is like being in a vat full of bliss.  Haha. I love that.

 

8.You sometimes play harp for humans and animals that are suffering from illness or transitioning life periods. Tell us about the experience and process?

 

Yeah, the heart of my work is playing for those who are transitioning into, through and out of this world.  I’m trained to provide a “cradle of sound” for those who are in the birthing process, the sick and suffering, and those at the end of life who are in hospice care...both animals and humans. It’s always a sacred experience to be allowed into the space to play for someone who is in pain and suffering, especially someone who is at the end of their life.  I find it incredibly intimate and an honor to bear witness to someone transitioning out of this world. I would say it is a holy experience that not many get to encounter.  So, when I’m playing bedside for someone who is actively dying, I pay attention to their breathing, their heart rate, their voice if they can still speak, their body movements and body temperature, etc...and I entrain and play to that.  The patient is a co-creator of the experience as I am tuned in to their resonant tone and what musical tones the individual needs, moment to moment.  Sessions for end of life can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour...and I can return daily until the person transitions and I am no longer needed.  It’s a sacred experience.  One hospice patient I played for told me, before she passed away, that I helped her find her “note” on the other side.  That’s a powerful validation for my work right there.

 

 

9.I know you also offer virtual sessions via video? How can someone get in touch and what does this entail? 

They can reach me via email at theharpwhishperer@gmail.com to set up an appointment.  Virtual sessions are the same as a private session, except we do it by video.  I can also do group sessions this way as well. 

 

10.What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn about and be involved in these concepts?

 Training!  If you’re interested in delving into sound healing, get as much training as possible. Sound is a powerful tool, and sometimes, without proper training, there are certain tones that can be misused to open portals that we don’t want opened up. There are tons of opportunities for sound healing training online as well as well as on location at centers across the globe.  Jonathan Goldman, who many consider the Master of Sound, has the Healing Sounds Intensive every summer that’s pretty amazing.  The Globe Institute of Sound and Healing in San Francisco is also amazing.  That’s where I studied online and on location.

 

11.Any suggested reading on the concepts of music as healing or sound and health?

Jonathan Goldman’s “Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics” is a good book to begin with.  “The Healing Power of Sound” by Mitchell Gaynor is a really great one on self-healing sound techniques that anyone can use,

 

12.What instruments do you use in addition to harp? Keyboard, or do you sing and if so is it more chanting or lyrical songwriting? 

Well, I mentioned earlier what sound instruments other than the harp I use in my sound journeys.  In my new project “Beth of the Forest” I am returning to my singing background...focusing more on sacred ethereal music and chanting. 

 

Really great, look forward to hearing it. Any last words today or news you’d like to share? Thank you Beth for the interview, always good to catch up with you and hear about your great work.

 

Thanks, luv...same here, Gid.  It was great to share what I’ve been up to with you.

 

Awesome. Thank you my friend and keep us updated on your news. - G