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singer, songwriter, musician, U.K.
Angela Wood, U.K.
My music is often slotted into the folk sound, and though I do not consider it to be strictly folk, I do accept that it has partly shaped my style. During my twenties, I spent a few years living and working in a small fishing village in the S.W. of England, where playing guitar and singing became a major part of my life. It was here that I was first introduced to the music of Joni Mitchell and Hoyt Axton, both Canadian singer/songwriters who have influenced me over the years.
I returned to my home county of London where I married, worked as a nursery nurse and played in a band.
The band were together for six years and consisted of a base guitarist, an acoustic guitarist and singer, myself on acoustic guitar, percussion and vocals and a guy who played anything and everything, playing harmonica exceptionally well. We played blues, Irish, contemporary, country, 60s, Gershwin and our own songs.
My 'Horizons' album represents the expanding and changing of my own life's horizons. I wrote some of the first songs when I was in Devon and the others quite a few years later. One of them was 'Wings', which is about a partnership needing to fly like the 'wings of a bird', a strong Bahá´í theme, in which I imagined myself singing to Persian instruments. The other song was 'Light on my Horizon', which is about experiencing difficult times yet sensing that life is about to change for the better. I wrote both of these songs one week before discovering the Bahá´í Faith, 14 years ago.
The last song on the album 'The Sun Is High' was the last song to be written. The words relate to those of the first song on the album, kind of completing the journey so far, having kept my inner sight set firmly on that 'Light on My Horizon'.
The album was born when the band was looking for a studio and producer for the songs we performed. Neil Faulkner was recommended. He was just setting up, had all the equipment and experience, but no studio. So the five of us, plus the instruments and studio equipment, all squashed into a small bedroom in Neil's home. Neil later invited us to play at a party he was arranging, offering to pay us in studio time. This turned out to be our last performance before our lives took us all in different directions.
Knowing that I had written some songs, the band let me have the time in the studio. I went in with the idea of just having fun, experimenting and playing around with my songs. Neil and I found we worked very well together and just kept going until an album was completed. I sent a copy to the U.K. Bahá´í Publishing Trust, and they accepted it completing the process with their excellent packaging and promotion.
Sounds easy doesn't it, and in one respect it unfolded beautifully, but on another level, I was coping with a very difficult time in my life, but found that the creativity kept my head above water. It was at this time that I happened to write the Sun Is High (and in my soul), and wondered, in my turmoil, where that song had popped up from, but there it was and it supported me. Inspiration is a very interesting phenomenon.
Music is very important to me. Every day I am either listening, playing or dancing to it. It is a great form of self-expression and keeps the energies of my physical, emotional and spiritual life balanced. I had several years without a faith or music in my life, until I realised that I was only half-alive. But I've now realised that a devotional spiritual life and music are two activities that, for me, is another relationship that needs to fly like the wings of a bird.
Creativity is our nature. We are one with God and God is creation. The more open we can be, the more creative we can be and not just in 'The Arts'. Life seems to be about accepting our nature, the bits we like and the bits we don't like and using this process positively to move beyond them. We need self-expression and self-discovery. The Arts can be a safe, enriching and enjoyable way of experiencing this, though not always a smooth ride, but always full of opportunities.
Art activities, whether they be painting, dance, music, drama, what ever, can lead to the development of many valuable skills. Skills such as relaxation, trusting, letting go of judgement and criticism, team work and listening skills and it's just great to really experience a sense of play again with paint or clay up to your elbows.
I left nursery nursing and began developing my own creativity, taking various courses including dance. For 3 years I was a tutor on various 'Care in the Community' courses at my local college, teaching 'The Therapeutic Benefits of Creativity in the Care Environment' and 'The Importance of Play to the Young Child, And 'Interpersonal skills', and 'Creativity' including art, music and dance on a 'Life Skills' course for Adults with Learning Difficulties.
The form of dance that I teach is called Open Dance and includes Gabrielle Roths 5 Rhythms. It provides a form of exercise that is fun and creative whilst inspiring a sense of well being. The process of creativity is experienced as a wave. The wave is broken down into the 5 rhythms of flowing (the intuition), staccato (the doing), chaos (the letting go and trusting), lyrical (the lightness and enjoyment) and stillness (the completion and fulfilment). Some great music can be found for these rhythms and whilst the dance encourages us to develop and express our own dance, there is a strong structure to support our development and exploration. When we recognise these rhythms in the wave of our own life and work with them, they can help us to stay more comfortably in its flow.
Excerpts from Arts Dialogue, March 1997, pages 8 and 9.
2003: Five years ago I moved back to the S.W. of England along with my husband Rob. I am now working for my local Adult Education teaching Open Dance and Music. I also paint murals for an income during the long holiday breaks.
Neil and I now, unfortunately, live too far away from each other to complete the album together, so
I have recently been working with another talented musician/producer, with the expectation of
an album, based around the 5 rhythms, being completed next year.
I learn many lessons in the creation of art one of them being patience. Everything seems to take longer than I expect but with patience and trust and a clear intent, lightly held, it offers many spiritual lessons and usually leaves me in no doubt that a Higher Creative Mind is taking part all along the way, offering me the reassuring experience that this same Mind and creative process is unfolding the Creation of a New World and a new way of Being far greater than I can imagine.
"Horizons" by Angela Wood, published by Seventh Valley Music a division of the Bahá´í Publishing Trust, U.K. is available from sales@Bahá´íbooks.co.uk as well as from many Bahá´í bookstores.
Artist Profile: in Arts Dialogue, March 1997
Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands