Hawaiian traditional music icon Keola Beamer is among the notable musicians featured in a unique album entitled Himalayan Sessions, which also includes inspirational words from His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
The album was created in collaboration between the late, world-renowned flutist and “father of New Age music” Paul Horn, who teamed up with Emmy awarded world music composer Christopher Hedge and Hawaiʻi’s own Keola Beamer.
The mission was to create a compilation of songs aimed at spreading and articulating the concept of aloha and universal love across cultural divides. “Only the inspirational words of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama seemed to possess the precise level of universal spiritual eclecticism to accompany that music,” according to an album announcement.
One-hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit the Aloha Music Camp / Mohala Hou Foundation , which provides ʻukuleles to children in developing countries.
Songs on the album had been compiled by Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti to serve as the soundtrack for his documentary films “Journey Inside Tibet,” “Mount Kailash — Return to Tibet,” “Tibetan Illusion Destroyer,” “When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan,” and the Emmy Award winning film “Bhutan Taking The Middle Path To Happiness.”
“The concept behind this whole project started with a conversation that Keola and I had a couple years ago, and the spirit behind it is literally to try to spread the concept of aloha around the world,” said Vendetti.
Collaborators say another significant element is the idea of preserving culture, especially indigenous and native cultures. All of the music was recorded on location in Nepal Tibet, and Bhutan, along with the Dalai Lama’s words in Dharamsala, India.
Vendetti also interviewed the Dalai Lama for 45 minutes at his home as part of the project. “A good deal of the Dalai Lama’s spoken word on the album reveals that the precepts of Tibetan Buddhism are strikingly similar to the spirit behind aloha …from espousing compassion for all sentient beings to alerting an urgent need to protect and heal our environment,” according to the album announcement.
“In our families, idea of aloha has been passed down for generations,” said Beamer. He continued saying:
“My family traces its lineage back to the 13th century in Hawaiʻi. And the spirit of aloha was intrinsic in our family for its entire existence on this planet. Maybe it came from this sort of realization that Hawaiʻi was just incredibly remote. And the ancient navigators who found it realized how beautiful and precious it was. We have a lot of aloha for our environment and we try to protect it as best we can. But there are many challenges as Hawaiʻi becomes more Western influenced, more developed, resulting in more stress to the native people of Hawaiʻi. You know, it’s actually harder for people to live with aloha because of the challenges on every side.”
The link between music, healing, and spiritual change is one Horn, Beamer and Hedge have been exploring in their distinctly respective ways for years.
They created the Himalayan Sessions as a vehicle for spreading aloha and promoting a more unified world, free from the dividing principles of culture, faith, and nation. This album is the latest in their ongoing efforts to increase dialogue, respect, and engagement via education and creative projects.
Beamer feels strongly that it’s time for us to all move beyond the division, into greater spiritual connection and mutual recognition. He puts it in deeply personal terms in describing the magic of communicating through music across the cultural divide.
“We didn’t share a language and many expert musicians could not read Western music notation. I really developed a kind of a spiritual connection to people making music sometimes with pretty bare instrumentation, sometimes crudely constructed instruments. I just love the feeling of human beings trying to create stuff in their own way, and their own voices, their own tonality.”