Rhythms of the world

For Tina Malia, a rising singer and songwriter of sacred and world music, the melody comes to her first. Then the melody tells her prayerful words of a mantra for "clearing the mind, soul and heart, bringing you to peace."

With yoga music artist GuruGanesh, Malia will perform at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, April 20, at the Unitarian Center, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

The concert, says Malia, is "a collection of music from around the world — chants, prayers and mantras drawing from Sanskrit, Hebrew, English, Spanish" and featuring prayers, "not prayers for something, though a lot of things in the world could use some prayer," but rather prayers as a way of "clearing and centering, bringing you to peace."

Malia, a guitarist and classically trained pianist, springs from Slavic-Korean parentage and lives in Sebastapol, Calif., a charming, small town she glowingly compares with Ashland, where she has performed in years past.

She has three albums out and notes that her songs largely come from "a melody and rhythm I strongly hear, bringing a quality of emotion that leads me to the story that's in the words."

Event producer John van Hove of Ashland Resource Center says, "I love her music a lot. I met her in Hawaii 10 years ago, and it was stunning then ... Its spirituality emanates from India, and I would call it chant music or singing meditation, where you recite the names of God."

The music is "kirtan" or call-and-response chanting from India's devotional tradition, says co-producer Linda Cotrufello of ARC. "It's really beautiful and diverse."

Malia's debut album, "Shores of Avalon," in 2000 brought musical mysteries of the Celtic, pagan and American Indian traditions and took her into the Pagan Love Orchestra of Jai Uttal. He introduced her to the rich tradition of Sanskrit mantra chanting.

She has since performed with Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins and India Arie. Listening to her mesmeric and soul-transporting work, one clearly gets the impression she is "somewhere else" and is taking you there.

"It was a very visceral, full-body experience when I first chanted mantra," says Malia. "It felt different in my heart, and it spread from there. It feels like one of the happiest moments in my life, enveloping my whole being. You feel like you're in love."

Malia's second CD, "Jai Bhagavan," fused Afro-Caribbean sounds with world, folk and Indian textures. Her latest album, "The Silent Awakening," brought pop with poetic lyricism.

With Hans Christian, Craig Kohland and Jared May completing her ensemble, says Malia, "we're trying to make a super group" in the spiritual-world music genre.

Malia recently signed with Spirit Voyage management and, says van Hove, "they want to send her to the big time."

Tickets for the Unitarian concert cost $20 and may be purchased at Soundpeace in Ashland or www.icresource.com/tinamalia.

For information about Malia's tour, see www.songofthesoultour.com and www.tinamalia.com.

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