Harp by SkookumsMy first impressionable memory of music was when my 3 year old cousin who had Down’s Syndrome came to visit. There was music playing …… he rocked rhythmically! I was five. My high school senior class trip to New York City included the United Nations. What stood out for me was what our tour guide told us …. that her position required her to speak 5 languages. That immediately translated into “Music is the single language of the world! “.

Lucky me! My parents started me on piano with my grandmother when I was 3. All my life I have had a passion for the strings. At 13  I began double bass which carried me into college.

At that point I drove to Alaska, a childhood dream when I was 10.

As we raised our 4 children in the best of two worlds …… small town winter schooling and remote cabin living as we commercially salmon fished summers on the shores of Cook Inlet, I took up guitar and autoharp playing for my 4 children, for weddings as well as an early childhood music program that I had developed for our community.

In 1983 I was thrilled to have my first custom made harp. Now both hands could pull expressively on the strings! I gave up fishing for the harp.

Creeping in there  came my desire to fly!  When I returned from our daily summer flights from taking hunters to “the other side” (through Merrill Pass), there my harp would be sitting …… I was too exhausted from the day. I gave up flying for the harp.

Then I became a single parent financially responsible.  I looked at her, I looked at my harp and said, “Babies sleep, I can practice.” She is now 21.

There was a nudge I felt in early September of 2009 to drive the 12 hours to Eagle, Alaska, to roll up my sleeves and pitch in to help build log homes for the towns folk whose homes and city had been gouged from flooding icebergs earlier that May. So off I went ….. tent, food, tools, Carharts and a traveling harp.

And the rest is history ….. Neal and his wife of 38 years who volunteer for disasters were there. As the story goes, he was walking to breakfast at sunrise and there I was sitting outside the mess hall in my  Carharts playing for the volunteers. After a few days of this Neal told me that he had been looking for me all of his life ….. meaning this kind of harp music.

He and his wife Nancy invited me to their home in Missouri …. for recording sessions. We have created a unique CD, “Soul Food”, Tibetan bowls, flute, guitar, and harp.  Our group is “The Deli Llama Orchestra”.  Neal plays several different kinds of Tibetan temple bowls or Tibetan singing bowls.  The first was a gift, as were most of the early bowls in his collection, from the “Yellow Hat branch of Tibetan Buddhism.”   “Soul Food” is 60 minutes which makes it ideal for massage, yoga, meditation, palates, coma recovery, sleeping and relaxation. I nursed a friend through the agony of Swine flu with those soothing, healing sounds.

For the past 2 years we have presented “The Sound of Peace” playing for the World Parliament of Religions in Hollywood, CA.

I had the privilege of playing for The 9th Gathering of the 13  Indigenous Grandmothers when they were here in Anchorage, May, 2011. An attendee commented, “Thank you for all you did to make our 9th Council a positive and beautiful stepping stone for our collective  and critical healing path.”   From that gathering I have been invited by Princess Wahena of Easter Island to be her guest as I introduce the harp to her people. A humble honor!

We, The Deli Llama Orchestra,  warmly invite you to an interactive sacred arts experience “The Sound of Peace” ……. ports of call include Brazil, New Zealand, Nepal, Gabon, Brussels, and Sweden. More details as per request.

with great joy, Skookums, harpist