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Beth Nielsen Chapman live with the BBC Concert Orchestra [Sep. 19th, 2010|03:05 pm]

Beth Nielsen Chapman's music accompanied me through some very difficult times years ago, as it has for many, many people. Over the years, she has continued to write songs which plumb the depths of spiritual need, articulating wisely and eloquently some of our highest joys or deepest pain. She helps us grieve, she helps us celebrate, all through a unique and profound confluence of music, lyrics, and some of the most difficult and/or important processes that human beings sometimes have to face. In her quiet way she has often become a voice to express both the vulnerability and the ecstasies of the human heart.

Beth is surprisingly little-known in the U.S., even though she is so unabashedly American in spirit and temperament, but apparently she has been much-loved for many years in the UK. While visiting there for concerts and songwriting workshops this month, she was invited to give a live concert with full orchestra on BBC Radio 2 on Friday night, Sept. 17.

Having just listened to it tonight, I'm filled with the best of emotional responses: It was a wonderful setlist of some of her best songs, old and new, most of them with new orchestrations which were sometimes subtle, sometimes large and colorful. Included were some of her work with collaborators, including Annie Roboff, Michael McDonald and film composer Patrick Doyle (who also appeared on the broadcast). THe interview segments helped illumine Beth's enormously positive spirit and humor, and so the program shows her at her best both as a musician and as a human being. I felt overwhelmingly proud of her as I listened to this important concert which which broadcast all over the world (and is available in BBC Radio's "listen again" until next Friday).

Most of all, for me personally, she touched me deeply, as she always does. I've revisited tonight so many feelings from the past 15 years of my life, some joyous, some very difficult. I was in tears often during the two hours of the program, but they were always tears born of being reconnected to the most vital inner regions of my own spirit. Hearing certain songs reminded me of times when these songs were so necessary to my own healing and progress, and yet at the same time, on a less selfish level, hearing Beth here in 2010 is also a celebration of the journey she's taken, so much of which she has shared with us her audience. In the first song you could almost hear in her voice the nervousness that must accompany this kind of opportunity, but once past that moment, she sounded supremely at her ease, and it was clear that the evening was a genuine lovefest between singer, orchestra and audience.

This night was a triumph for her, and no-one could be more deserving of this moving worldwide showcase.