The Buddhist in the Room

THE BUDDHIST IN THE ROOM
Lua Hadar Blog Series “Nomad Notes”
Chapter 7
Written 6/23/18 and 7/11/18
Mt. Shasta, CA

WHY
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Two days ago, on the Solstice and on my birthday, I sat at the Trinity River in Northern California and was struck by the relentlessness of the rushing water, this persistent pulse of life that never takes a day off. This water has been rushing, faster or slower, since it was born. It doesn’t stop until the river itself dies, but even then it becomes part of something else.
This is the river of life, Our lives, individually and collectively, rush along as part of this river. Even if our bodies are overtaken, our spirits are not destroyed; energy is not destroyed; it transforms.
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Fresh from the memorial service of a friend and peer, my resolve is strengthened to leave something behind to the world when I am done.
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I am so troubled by what I see taking place in our country, with echoes in significant parts of the world. We are in trouble, and I must speak out and be part of the revolution that is taking place just as slowly and relentlessly as is the assault on human rights and our democracy.
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My outrage has overpowered my fear of songwriting and I have begun to write songs that say what I need to articulate.
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WHAT
My new song, Our Common Humanity, makes the point that we all came from the same human family, that we are all cousins, and that we must share the resources and live in gratitude for our lives and our world. 
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This is a large vision, one which many may find disturbing and many others encouraging, but it is worth visualizing, so I have created a music video of the song in collaboration with music producer and editor Jason Martineau.
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LHTwist_FortMason_26May18_1351_LOThis music video received its debut at The San Francisco International Arts Festival at Fort Mason Center for the Arts, San Francisco, on May 26, 2018. It was shown to the audience in the context of a live concert which my band and I performed.
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We had a couple of new players, it was our first time using backup singers, I sang some new material in new languages and some songs we had not performed for a good 5 years.
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I’m not one to broadcast the challenges of daily life and work on Facebook as they occur, unlike some of my more open colleagues. I tend to really open up about big challenges to just a few people. Until they’re resolved. Then I don’t mind telling!
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But I found that I could melt down along the way not only with my partner and my closest confidants, but also with my local Buddhist district. 
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For not only am I ethnically Jewish, I am also an SGI Buddhist
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I mention this in the context of my concert for a very good reason. In the practice of this Buddhism, we are encouraged to view challenges as a springboard to victory.
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JASON HEAD SHOT
We had begun work on the song, photo/video shoot and music video edit in 2017.
Jason Martineau is multi-skilled and was able to help me transform an iPhone voice memo and a scribble on an envelope into a song, with a band like our own, but amplified with all manner of exotic instruments to accompany my world fusion message about the commonality of the human experience. 
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The song Our Common Humanity tells an encapsulated version of how the development of agriculture resulted in the concept of ownership and domination, as well as the development of society and civilization. 
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Of course there are many exceptions, but the political trend in the USA now is that a small, fairly unscrupulous rich class is dominating the working classes by buying government and slowly removing the civil rights of any group they choose.
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The ownership and domination thing has gotten way out of hand, and our world is lopsided. The chorus of the song says:
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“Everybody needs the water, everybody needs the food, everyone deserves their freedom, we must live together in gratitude.” 
 
HOW WE PUT THE VIDEO TOGETHER
We worked on the video for months and months; three-hour sessions in which Jason Martineau teased the video footage we had into a powerful visual statement, advising me and creating with me as I became a de-facto director.
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In a world where 5 minutes has become a long time for someone to pay attention, I wanted to keep the pacing very contemporary, meaning that many images are necessary because they must change quickly.
Taking cues from Jason, mentor-director Lawrence Jordan, and my videographer partner Hamilton Everts, I took up my prosumer camera and started shooting B-roll shots of nature settings, water, fruit trees. This added to the B-roll I had brought back from Eastern Europe and Israel in 2016, including a street musician from Prague who made his way into the story.
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Kingmond
The “master shot” – in which I’m on camera singing the song – actually came from a photo shoot done in May 2017 (a year ago!) with Kingmond Young. In addition to shooting the branding still photos with the cloak created by Toni Matthies, Kingmond also shot some video with me lip-sinking to the song. Enough of this was useable to become the master shot.
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Toni_cloak
I had the cloak made by Toni with the idea of a “Desert Priestess” character as the spokesperson for the story, a time-traveler.
The Desert Priestess has trekked out of Africa to populate the Fertile Crescent and helped to begin Agriculture. She has lived through the millennia to witness the effects of those actions, good and bad. 
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Toward the end of 2017, I tried to re-create the hair and makeup of the brilliant Peggy Lucas so I could again don the cloak of the “Desert Priestess” and shoot out in nature.
So the sequences of praying and dancing were shot by Hamilton Everts locally.
There is a sequence of dances, a sequence of eyes and a quilt of cousins in the video, all created by Dr. J (Jason Martineau).
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THE CHALLENGE OF THE LIVE CONCERT
As we worked on editing the video from the winter of 2018 into the spring, I knew I had to MAKE myself get the set list for the live concert in shape, and that I would have to largely prepare it by myself, because every second I had with Jason had to be devoted to getting the video finished.
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Part of my work in this project is about self-acceptance. After singing everyone else’s languages, I wanted to sing to express the roots of my own branch of humanity. I knew I HAD to find the right Yiddish song, that I really had to sing something in Yiddish and something in Hebrew. I actually also had programmed a song in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews, but that will have to come in the next concert performance.
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The challenge was not only finding material that I liked, but that fit with the common humanity theme of the concert, no matter what the language. 
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I started going through music books provided to me by sheet music guru, Bob Johnson, finding a Hebrew song with simple and important lyrics, one I had known since childhood. We combined 2 versions of the song Hine Ma Tov into a little arrangement in two different meters, which started out with just bass and voice and ended up with a spontaneous audience singalong. Its lyrics are the first verse of Psalm 133, which reads, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” The Hebrew word for unity here, Yachad, is very deep, meaning true peace and harmony in the world.
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SFIAF_PR_SF Weekly May 17
Slowly, inspired by the “Down by the Riverside” theme of the 2018 International Arts Festival, I found my set list was becoming a statement.
And for the first time, given “permission” by the festival context, I spoke out plainly during the storytelling sections of the show; as I introduced each song to the audience, I spoke in unmistakeable language, instead of the soft, implied thematic message I usually include about us all being One, about the human rights and prosperity we all should share.
Within the context of my Buddhist practice, I sing in a small chorus every couple of months. Last year (or was it the year before?) we sang a song called The World is Ours to Change, by Wayne Green.
I had had the opportunity to meet Wayne on a couple of occasions, as he is a big time music director of Broadway touring shows such as Mamma Mia and The Color PurpleEver since I sang his inspiring song for the first time, I wanted to do it with my band. 
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When I had hired my band, months and months before so their bios could be in the advance public relations material, I had hired a guitarist for the first time, feeling that the guitar sound would work with the new material. I knew this guitarist from shows I had worked on at Berkeley Rep and I knew he could both read a music score and improvise in a variety of styles. This type of guitarist is fairly rare, and since it was my first time to work that sound into the band, I wanted no substitutes. I made that clear. So, it’s early May or maybe late April, and my guitarist, with regrets, informs me that a rehearsal schedule for a new show he is working on has expanded and gobbled up my dates. I had to let him go; couldn’t begin to buy out that contract!
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Rather than hire a sub, the Universe had provided something else.
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Claudia_Candace_LO_croppedFriend, colleague, mentor and sister Candace Forest has a track record of “putting me up” to doing things I must then dare to do. 
In 2015, she put me up to entering the Italian Heritage Parade and costuming a bunch of cabaret singers as identical clowns to walk and promote a show I put together at the Italian Athletic Club.
This time she put me up to a concert Finale with a participatory prop and a Girl backup Duo for a few numbers in the show, including The World is Ours to Change. I substituted the Girl Duo for the guitarist on the band plot I had submitted to the festival.
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Then we had to figure out the parts, rewrite the chorus to one of the songs (from Zulu to English), and rehearse. This was done separately over a few rehearsals, the last two with Jason, and then Jason plus the full band, respectively.
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Stand Up with Me bannerIn the meantime, Claudia Landivar, Girl Duo power voice, had volunteered to help with the graphic for the Finale. She created a graphic saying stand up with me, surrounded by the word Solidarity in many languages. I had this photocopied on the back of the program, which I had printed on card stock. They were used by the audience during the Finale.
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Finally we were just 2 weeks before the concertAnd OMG I had STILL not settled on the Yiddish song, which HAD to be part of this concert. I immersed myself in Youtube videos and looked up the words and translations of the songs, where I could find them. I had studied Yiddish and German a bit, but not enough to reliably translate myself. I wanted a song that would thematically be part of the human rights set list, but still something I could relate to musically. Not religious. Culturally connected but in a way that felt right.
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Sascha_2My band for this concert included a bass player I had not performed with before, but whose work I admired, Sascha Jacobsen. I knew his many skills included both playing and dancing Tango. I wanted to use this groove; I also love Tango, but here I was 2 weeks before the show with no Tango and no Yiddish song.
And then i found THE YIDDISH TANGO. It is based on a pre-war song called Play Me a Little song in Yiddish. A second set of song lyrics that we found, however, came, it is said, from the Kovno Ghetto (Lithuania) and were sung in other Jewish ghettos as well, in the time leading up to World War II. I spontaneously cried when I sang the chorus out loud, the notes reverberating through my blood.
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I knew this was the song. Different versions of the lyrics existed; I scrambled and reached out for help with a correct translation, which I summarized as I introduced it to the audience:


Play, Klezmers, play with heart and feeling. Play a tango that’s good for everyone; not an Aryan one, not a barbaric one. Play me a tango about peace, so that Hitler and his Reich will be sacrificed. That will be a little dance!

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Finally it was 3 days before the show. Time for the one and only band rehearsal. I felt like I was scotch-taped together.
The music books were ready, my studio was clean-ish, the neighbors had been advised, the food for the band had been purchased, my sound equipment was in place.
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But I was a ragged mess. The long editing process on the music video had left little time for concert prep with my music director/video editor, despite my work to get the concert together by myself.
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The band rehearsal was great but left me feeling still ragged and unprepared, such that I did not even plan to ask for a “board feed” recording. This is the sound directly off the mixing board, before it gets altered by the acoustics of the room, which in this case was a very boomy art gallery transformed into a performance space.
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I was convinced that my performance would not be one for which I needed to have a good recording.
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MY MELTDOWN
In my Buddhist practice, we meet in homes for discussion groups and read articles about human empowerment. Life’s challenges are welcomed as opportunities for growth. I knew I had set myself up for this  music-video-in-concert-debut challenge, I knew someplace inside me I’d rise to it, but the pressure was having an effect. We are encouraged to talk about our Experiences and how the practice helps us. I spoke up in a meeting, and had a crying meltdown right then and there. The show wasn’t ready, the video had technical problems to solve, my wardrobe for the show was in the mail, the tickets weren’t sold, I was worried about the venue, and I was on the verge of tears all the time. Not just from pressure, though, they were also good tears — of creation, of birth, of awe that I was doing this. With my own song that expressed the depth of what I want the world to know: that we are all equal and deserving.
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Needless to say, this meltdown piqued the curiosity of some of my fellow members, and they braved their own challenges to come see the show. My CD sales gal was another singer – one who had introduced me to Buddhism in the first place. Together with family, friends, fans, and new faces, they filled the room on May 26, 2018.
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THE NIGHT OF THE SHOW
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I had been asked to submit my tech plan months before. There had been much discussion with band members who had played the venue before about the challenges of the sound in that room. I was nervous, worried the festival would promise things they could not later deliver.
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The tech rehearsal for the video required patience, persistence, and good will for this hardworking crew that was managing not just my show, but a whole festival.
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celso_IMG_0104The drummers brought their own mics, I provided extra monitors, and a great gift, my drummer Celso Alberti created a professional sound plot, which he knows all about as an audio engineer who tours the world with big name artists.
This was an incredible benefit for the group, one which grew even on the night of the show, as he collaborated with the festival tech person and with Jason Martineau to regulate the sound in the room.
There was very little time for actual rehearsal after the lengthy sound check was done. Again, I felt under-prepared.
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makeup 
I was glad that I had hired a makeup artist (Rebeca Flores) to come in and handle my face. This was an expense that was worth it; she did a great job and THAT particular pressure was off.
Claudia Landivar helped calm me down.
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Despite all that had taken place, I found I was not nervous once I got on stage. The show went better than anyone expected, including myself.
My last public performance had been at Feinstein’s at the Nikko on November 10, 2016. On that occasion, there was an ELEPHANT in the room; two days after Election Day, I had to find a way to acknowledge and speak about the catastrophe of the  election of You-Know-Who. I won’t put his name in this blog.
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THIS TIME, the element of THE BUDDHIST IN THE ROOM was transformational, supporting me to give a performance I didn’t know I had in me. 
And possibly MY AMAZING BAND had something to do with it.
See the credits and the music video, Our Common Humanity below.

 

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CREDITS

VIDEO PREMIERE AND LIVE CONCERT – Producer: Lua Hadar; Music Director: Jason Martineau; Band Personnel – Vocals: Lua Hadar; Piano: Jason Martineau; Bass: Sascha Jacobsen; Drums: Celso Alberti; Percussion: Ian Dogole; Reeds: Sheldon Brown; Backup Vocals: Claudia Landivar and Candace Forest.Videography: Hamilton Everts; Makeup/Hair: Rebeca Flores; Sound/Lights: Taylor Gonzalez. Our thanks to: Andrew Wood, Clare Baxter, SF International Arts Festival, Wayne Green, Diane Merlino.

MUSIC VIDEO – OUR COMMON HUMANITY – Director: Lua Hadar; Editor: Jason Martineau; Videography: Kingmond Young, Hamilton Everts, Jason Martineau, Lua Hadar; Photography: Jason Martineau, Kingmond Young; Music Production: Jason Martineau; Music & Lyrics: Lua Hadar; Cloak: Toni Matthies; Makeup/Hair: Peggy Lucas. New Performance Group © 2018. Our thanks to: San Francisco International Arts Festival; Lawrence Jordan; Daisaku Ikeda; Population Connection.

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to the Lua Hadar YOUTUBE Channel, leave a nice comment if you like, and please SHARE. I want this message to go far and wide. In Gratitude. 

San Francisco International Arts Festival Features Vocal Artist Lua Hadar: ‘Our Common Humanity’

Honored to have Charles Kruger’s THEATRESTORM interview me for this great feature article on our new project.

TheatreStorm

Lua Hadar, Vocalist. Photo credit: Kingmond Young.

This writer is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

by Charles Kruger

Lua Hadar has built her reputation by developing her talent for languages to sing songs and speak to audiences in no fewer than seven tongues! She and her band Twist describe themselves as “cultural diplomats for a new age” and ther mission statement speaks of their desire “to promote world harmony through music, seeking to ignite in audiences an awareness of our common humanity.”

Not every vocalist has a mission statement. But then, not every vocalist is Lua Hadar, for whom music is a calling as much as a talent.  She can certainly claim to be cosmopolitan! Her ports of calling (get it?) have included Bali, Russia, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand, France, Italy and beyond.

Lua’s performances include original songs in multiple languages, as well as new…

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NOMAD NOTES: Chapter 6 – Forced to Adulate

Adulation. 
 

Flattery (also called adulation) is the act of giving excessive compliments, generally for the purpose of ingratiating oneself with the subject. Historically, flattery has been used as a standard form of discourse when addressing a king or queen. 

 

The Wannabe Dictator now calls it Treason if we do not respond with adulation to the Pearls he is barely capable of reading off His Teleprompter.

 
 
The  Wannabe Dictator accused unenthusiastic or resisting Democrats watching the State of the Union speech of Treason. 
 
 
For the record:
 
 

Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information.

 

It is, in actuality, the so-called president who has been committing Treason since he conspired to invite the Russians into our election process.

 

My response has been, and is, one of vociferous resistance and also to remind us that none of us is better than the other. We are one humanity.

 

I pick up Nomad Notes in the new year 2018, after a year of both fury and creativity. I had returned to San Francisco in October 2016, after my Roots Voyage to Israel and Eastern Europe, with my consciousness a little bit more woke, as they like to say now. Then the ELECTION came, and I have been expressing my outrage daily on Facebook.

 

When I visited the Nazi Concentration Camp at Auschwitz, chronicled in Nomad Notes, I had to summon courage in order to do it. Once I was there, I realized that if they — we — Jews, Roma, Gays and others, had the courage to live through torture and death, I would find the courage to look at it.

 

I came to understand a little bit of the cruelty and carnage that dictatorship had wrought in Germany and Europe.

 

Our temporary president shows many totalitarian tendencies, not the least of which is his recent label of “treasonous” to those who do not express sufficient adulation.

 

To be alive as an artist in this moment of great peril to our democracy is to speak out in various ways in order to resist the surreal insanity.

 

Some of the video and photo material that I collected on my 2016 Roots Voyage will soon find its way into a new music video I am creating with JASON MARTINEAU in his studio, setting it to my new song, our common humanity.

 

We will premiere this music video on a big screen before its release. That will take place in the context of our live concert on May 26, 2018, as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival . We’re in production now!

 

All the info HERE:

In gratitude,
 
Our Common Humanity Premiere
our common humanity premiere May 26, 2018
 
Here’s a rally song: