Seeds Album Release, Musical Continuations

We all have seeds
We all have strengths, we all have needs
We can water our wholesome seeds
Let’s pull up the weeds
We’ll work together to do good deeds
We can water our wholesome seeds

Jamie Rusling has been a musical friend and mentor to me for the past 25 years. As an experienced percussionist and performer, he took me under his wing when I was a recent college grad and brought me into one of the first studios I worked with, helping me record my first album Mothers and Daughters. He always encouraged me to keep making and sharing music and was consistently kind and generous, inviting me over for fires at his house, cooking for me, and giving me bags of groceries. Over the past two and a half decades of playing gigs together he would never let me pay him.

Last Thursday the middle school music students I am teaching at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School had their final performances of the school year. Over the past month I had given them an assignment I called “Sing Your Heart Out,” in which I challenged them to form bands and write their own songs or learn a cover tune and perform it for the class. The only requirement was that everyone in each band had to participate, and their song had to include some form of vocals. This is a big challenge for most middle schoolers!

Given their distracted attention in rehearsals I wasn’t sure what to expect from the performances. I was happily surprised to witness every single group in all four classes step up and perform their songs with heartfelt expression and authenticity. It was beautiful to witness them sharing their voices and creativity with such joy and confidence.

I found out the next morning that Jamie died late Thursday night. I had spoken to him on the phone the week before, and he let me know he was on Hospice. He seemed at peace in knowing that it was his time. I didn’t think that it would come so soon.

I am experiencing grief, shock, and sadness, yet I have also been able to see how the music made by my middle school students – and their expression of heart and spirit – was very much a part of Jamie’s continuation. I have realized that all of the songs I write and share contain the wisdom that Jamie taught me; that music is a healing medicine for all people.

I want to practice that awareness as I celebrate the release of my new children’s album Seeds and share musical performances throughout the summer. Jamie’s rhythms, kindness, generosity, and music live on. I am humbled and grateful to be part of his continuation.

I am also deeply thankful for the opportunity to share this new album with you and with the world. I recognize the many voices, hands, energies, and smiles that have gone into this collection of songs. Indeed, there are many Community Gardeners – including my parents – who have contributed to this album and helped these musical Seeds to germinate!

Seeds will be released to the public on June 10th, when it will begin streaming on all digital platforms and when I will perform a special release concert with The Community Gardeners at the Keep Growing Detroit Farm. I really hope you will join us!

Right now you can pre-save the album on Spotify and pre-order CDs from the Earthwork Music online store.

I will be recognizing Jamie’s presence in new forms as I continue on this musical spiritual path, returning again and again to the heartbeat rhythm that he transmitted so strongly. I hope that you feel it and will sing and dance along.

In gratitude,

P.S. In April I enjoyed an amazing retreat and performance experience with Kateri and the Community Gardeners as part of the Rhythm of the Earth Mindful Music Festival at the Deer Park Monastery in California. If you missed the performance you can still watch the recording here.

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