Music for Connection and Celebration

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Jul 19, 2021 / 0 comments

Finding connection, celebrating difference, taking joy in the small things on the way to those discoveries: music can be a gateway to all those things.

Music for Connection and Celebration

Carrie Newcomer has always been good at seeing things that way, finding the sacred in the ordinary. She had the chance to explore that in new ways a few years back when she was unexpectedly invited to share her music with schools and NGOs in India. Newcomer, who is based in Indiana in the US, was in the midst of other plans when the the invitation came. "I felt as though life was knocking at my door saying come on hon, keep up." she says. So she went. While there, she got to know sarod master Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan. When they came on tour to the US, Newcomer invited them to record with her, for the album which became Everything Is Everywhere. This is the title track.

Jenny Sturgeon, who comes from the northeast of Scotland, makes music which celebrates and explores connections between humans and nature. Air and Light speaks of exploration, excitement, peace, reflection. The song is on Sturgeon's album The Living Mountain, which is inspired by nature writer Nan Shepherd's book about the Cairngorms, also called The Living Mountain.

There's connection with nature and across cultures in The Smoky Smirr o Rain, from Juhani Silvola and Sarah-Jane Summers. Juhani, who comes from Finland, is a guitarist and producer known for his work in electro-acoustic music. Sarah-Jane is from the Highlands of Scotland. She first learned her instrument there, and began exploring connections among Nordic musics and the traditions of Scotland. The couple live in Norway. Each of those elements finds its way into this tune, which Sarah-Jane composed. The Smoky Smirr o Rain is also the name of the album on which it appears.

Journeys, connections, reflections: those all make up part of the song Seven Bridges Road. Dolly Parton has written many songs herself; here she puts a bluegrass frame to this classic of country and rock music written by Steve Young. This version may be found on Dolly Parton's album Little Sparrow.

Connections with nature...Speaking of taking joy in the small things, too: There's a long held tradition in the Nordic lands, in Scotland, and elsewhere, of singing the cows home so they can come in to be milked. That's the story Kim Carnie is telling in Gaelic in this song, Gaol a' Chruidh. Carnie is part of a musical collective of Scottish artists called Staran. You will find the song recorded on their debut album, also called Staran.

It seems right to point up connections and journeys among the pieces here with a song you may have met before in this series. It is called Walk the Road. Cathie Ryan, who lives in Ireland, sings it; Kate Rusby, who lives in England, wrote it. You will find it recorded on Cathie Ryan's album Through Wind and Rain. Ryan chose, in fact, to call her album after a phrase from this song.

There are lines from a Carrie Newcomer song with which this story began that point up these connections. They are worth remembering, too.

There is still so much work to do
Armloads of sorrow yes this is true
But I take heart when I despair
Miracles are everywhere


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times


Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.