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Music Review: Tina Turner, Dechen Shak-Dagsay, and Regula Curti – Beyond

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Tina Turner has released a new album, but it marks a departure from her signature rock and R&B sound.  She may still be asking “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” but she explores love’s power in Beyond, a collaboration with Buddhist singer Dechen Shak-Dagsay and Christian vocalist Regula Curti.  The project features songs and chants for people of various religions, which are intended to accompany prayers and meditation. 

A longtime practicing Buddhist, Turner discovered the religion during her Ike and Tina Turner days.  As chronicled in her autobiography I, Tina and the subsequent biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It, Turner became a dedicated follower and found strength in prayer.  While working on Beyond, Shak-Dagsay and Curti, artists who reside in Switzerland, contacted Turner (a Swiss native since 1994) to ask if she would like to contribute to their project.  While she does not sing on the album, she recites personal chants that she co-wrote, along with demonstrating Buddhist prayer through tracks such as “Sound of Mystic Law,” in which she chants the familiar “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” 

The music, not surprisingly, combines new age music with Asian accents.  Tracks such as “Holy Praise” and “Embracing Wisdom” recall Enya, with Shak-Dagsay and Curti using their gentle, feminine voices to almost float over the background music.   Beyond’s songs fulfill a specific function: to aid the listener in mediation and relaxation.  In a recent interview, Shak-Dagsay explained that “it’s not explicitly a Buddhist project or a Christian project, it’s a universal one.”  This idea pervades “Dance With The Divine: Bodhicitta – Halleluja,” which fuses Buddhist and Christian tenets in one song.  Shak-Dagsay and Curti devised the project after watching a 2005 ceremony on inter-religious dialogue, conducted by The Dalai Lama and Abbot Martin Werlen, head of the Benedictine Monastery in Einsiedeln in central Switzerland.  The track demonstrates how the session profoundly affected the two women, and exemplifies the album’s goal of reaching many religions; as Shak-Dagsay stated, ” our main message is to tell people that there’s something really deep inside you which everyone has, and we are all the same.”  Indeed, this hybrid track accomplishes their goal.

Throughout the CD, the music tracks alternate with Turner’s spiritual readings and chants.  Interestingly she comments on how music has enriched her spiritually–“singing takes you beyond,” she explains on the title track.  She also encourages listeners to “start every day singing like the birds,” as expressing oneself artistically can bring spiritual happiness. 

Beyond has been endorsed by The Dalai Lama and Abbot Werlen, and proceeds from album sales will target charities.  Originally released in Europe in 2009, Beyond is now available in the United States through New Earth Records.  Indeed, the disc reveals a different side of Turner, one that she rarely shows to the public.  The project invites listeners to experience Turner’s spiritual side, and to join her in prayer.  Beyond may not suit everyone’s tastes, but those looking for words and music intended to calm and inspire reflection may want to try this CD. 

For more information, visit the official Beyond page and New Earth Records’ site.

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About Kit O'Toole