Cosmic Summer Sojourn
The contemporary Zen guru Alan Watts said, "the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be." Not surprising, then, that for York, PA-based singer, composer and guitarist Susan Savia - a devoted Buddhist/Taoist practitioner influenced by Watts - music, like everything else in life, is about being open to the truth. For her, this has meant that music was destined to be an inextricable part of her life, but something she must approach on her own terms. The result is original, evocative and peaceful music about love and awakening. Susan grew up in a fire department family in northern Virginia and played piano by ear at age 5, and like all great singers, started in the church choir. Susan picked up the guitar at 13 and sang as a sideline at weddings, funerals, folk festivals and parties. She moved to Maryland in the 1980's, and joined the band Easy Street. She and one of the members broke off to form a popular folk/blues duo, Backseat Drivers. They entertained for about 10 years across Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Fast forward to 1997, Susan had moved to Pennsylvania and became ardently interested in Buddhism. While browsing in a local bookstore, she saw a flyer for a teaching in Baltimore and thought it would be interesting. She drove an hour to see him, not knowing what to expect, and was immediately drawn. Seeking peace of mind and spiritual awakening, she realized that Buddhism was the path for her and began to integrate it into her life and her music. Working full-time at a college, she still performed music occasionally, but was losing interest singing just covers. In 1999, she bought her first house in the country, started a new relationship, and decided "time to give up music and focus on those two things for a while. I never really expected to return to music." A vacation to Hawai'i in 2004 inadvertantly changed all that. Susan and her husband took a trip to the Big Island ("...so inspiring!"), and upon her return home, she left her full-time job. She ran for the State House of Representatives of Pennsylvania for the Green Party (being the only visible Buddhist in town, she was known around York as a religious leader and environmentalist.) She won 8% of the vote against an incumbent, successfully helping the Green Party maintain party status in Pennsylvania. Following that adventure, she took some time to "figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up". Everything seemed to converge: her healthy romantic relationship, the wonderful experience of Hawai'i, spending time watching nature, continuing her path toward awakening. Music tugged at her heart, so in 2005 she picked up her guitar and began playing again, but this time on her own terms. She started experimenting with open tunings, writing new songs and rearranging vintage music. (Susan has a passion for music from the Post-Romantic Era, 1880-1915.) She developed a unique style, pulled from past influences Joni Mitchell, David Byrne, Incredible String Band, The Moody Blues, Jazz great Tim Warfield, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and more. People embraced her new sound when she played out in tearooms and coffeehouses and assisted living facilities. In 2006, Susan produced and recorded Cosmic Summer Sojourn. The debut CD was brilliantly engineered and co-produced by Rob Ziv (Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, Celine Dion) at Sheffield Studios in Phoenix, Maryland, culminating in an enchanting aural daytrip and an expression of awakening. The music is a mix of old and new; joy and love; spirituality and nature. The artistic anthology features Susan's original music, anchored by some of her favorite late 19th century songs uniquely re-arranged by her to sound current, all interlaced with the sounds of summer recorded in her backyard. One reviewer writes: "To me the most captivating parts of the CD are the tracks where your voice and that of the guitar are pure and allow me the most access to the poetry of your lyrics. Your artistic virtuosity both vocally and instrumentally are astounding: each alone would be rare." Susan plans to tour and perform full-time and continue to compose new music. Her CD is already generating significant buzz, with requests for copies and interviews as far away as Eastern Europe and Australia. One song, Under the Stars Tonight, has been chosen for a compilation CD, 'Chill Out: East Coast Version' due out in May 2007. Susan believes the time is right for her enchanting, peaceful music. "There's plenty of drumbeats out there. I think people are ready to listen for subtleties. Many long for peace, beauty, innocence, love -- the goodness that is all around and mixed into the music," Susan states. "I love when they tell me 'your music is so wonderfully gentle' or 'your CD is so relaxing' or your 'voice is SO beautiful!" With her incredible talents, original voice and the ability like Alan Watts "to let go and become open to truth -- whatever it might turn out to be", Susan Savia's interesting journey will continue for a long time, and one that a lot of people will want to follow.