Innovations in Early & World Music

Since 1994, I’ve been working as a world music singer. After living overseas (Australia, Venezuela, Germany) as a child, I think world music resonated with me, as a way of continuing the travel and discovery of rich cultural heritage. Singing music from these places is the best way to appreciate it, by being a part of it. My performance background began with a world folk music a capella group VIDA (IMG-Artists). Additionally, I studied with fusion-percussionist, Julian Douglas, whom is now and has since been, my music partner, collaborator, and producer. Through studies of percussion and rhythm theory, I developed a deep appreciation for Indian Hindustani classical music. Like a gypsy at heart, I traveled through folk songs of Bulgaria, Spain, India, and an internal absorption of the music occurred. When I write music today, there is a natural reference to these traditions, but that goes beyond tradition to create something new. I hear the relationship between Spanish modal scales and Indian raga. I see the roots between South African freedom songs and American blues. The lines are clear to me, but I want to draw them for others to see what a connected world we are, and this music shows it.

While there are many highly respected world music groups that present and preserve traditional and historical music, exposing otherwise unexposed audiences to new cultural frameworks is not the goal for me as an artist. I want to change the way people listen. I want people to hear the sensual-emotional quality of Early Music; the innocence and playfulness of African music; the visionary Hildegard Von Bingen- not sterile! but instead, fiery! setting prayer into motion through soulful incantation. Hearing these pieces (classical or world) in new arrangement and sensibility will introduce some to the music for the first time. Some will become fans of these styles, instantly. New and inspiring rendering does more than expose the audience to the normal way of hearing and preserving the style of music, but brings them into a new experience that just might awaken the audience. Audiences need to be educated, yes, and inspired. Artists also need to break out of the mold and create something new. This is where my work lies.

— Stephanie Heidemann