The Birth & Essence of a Song Portrait
One day in 1986 I was at the airport waiting for a flight when I decided to take out my guitar and sing to pass the time. Soon I was joined by two other guitarists, a woman in a wheelchair, and other assorted travelers with an ear or a voice to lend to the creation. We sang everything from the Beatles to the classic airport tune Leaving On A Jet Plane. At one point an airport employee approached me. I feared that he came over to tell me we would have to stop, but instead he playfully inquired if I were available to entertain there on a daily basis!
At a certain moment I felt an inner prompting to sing Amazing Grace. I mentally squirmed in resistance, not wanting to wax religious and possibly turn some people off. Yet sometimes the heart (thank God!) speaks louder than the mind, and I let go of my fears long enough to initiate a powerful rendition of the song, gloriously joined by most of the crowd that had increased in numbers and momentum.
When we were done, a man with tears streaming down his face approached me. He told me that he had just come from his mother’s funeral and that Amazing Grace had been her favorite song. “Just now when I heard it sung,” he said, “I felt her presence. I heard her telling me she was safe and in the light, and that she would always be with me.” I also had tears well up as silently I thanked the universe for using me as an instrument to touch this man’s heart. I remember inviting God to use me more often!
As I grew spiritually, music (which had always been a hobby and a dear friend) was becoming something I never knew it could be: a tool for healing and a form of communion with Source. In my prayer and meditations I sometimes would pose questions to the universe, and the answers would enter my mind in song. The music sounded like Broadway show tunes and the lyrics addressed my questions quite profoundly, poetically, sometimes even playfully, and always in rhyme. One time I asked, “Why does guidance come to me in song?” The answer went something like this: “God loves you, Scott, and knows you oh so dear, and speaks to you in the language you can hear. Others hear in silence or in art, but for you, music is the language of your heart!"
What I began to realize was that this gift of musical guidance was not meant for my ears alone. I began to experiment with singing directly to another person, allowing music and lyrics to come through me in the moment. Often the words would address relevant issues that were not covered in our initial conversation, things I had no way of knowing about. At the time I was living in A Course in Miracles study community, and my house-mates were grateful to be guinea pigs. Was I channeling, improvising, or just exercising a heightened sense of spontaneity? I had no role models or teachers to help me grow into this gift until Michael Stillwater came to our community to facilitate a weekend workshop
Michael shared his own wondrous gift of intuitively creating songs for each person in attendance. Watching him work was like seeing a preview of my future self. I asked him for a song to help bring my own gift out of the closet and into the world. He sang out a song that gave me the permission, validation and support I was needing to take my next step.
Six months later I was finishing a concert in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. My concerts consisted then of a mixture of devotional and humorous growth related songs. Everyone was getting up to make a run for the snacks and/or to purchase my recordings, located strategically right next to the food. I heard a commanding voice in my head, as clear as a bell, saying, “Sit people back down. You are ready to go public with song portraits.” Before my mind had a chance to debate on whether this was truly guidance or the first sign of losing my mind, I asked everybody to gather in a circle on the floor. I invited someone into the center to receive a song. She spoke a few words about what she wanted support for, and then lay down. People lovingly placed their hands on her, and out of me came a beautiful message in song. Everyone was stunned, including me. Many other songs followed.
When the clock read midnight I put down the guitar for the evening. I was aware that I had just turned a corner, and that my concerts and my life were changed forever. I had become a song portrait artist!
Currently I am sharing this gift with groups and businesses, at conferences, in Song Portrait Circles, and in individual private sessions, both in person and on the phone. In individual sessions I ask a person to talk to me a little about their goals and dreams, as well as their challenges. I usually offer some coaching and support. Then I get quiet, turn on the CD recorder, and out comes the song. How does it happen? I wish I could explain it! All I know is that my mind goes blank, love and compassion fill my heart, and I am moved to sing. The power of expressing wisdom, love, poetry and guidance through the medium of song never fails to touch and amaze.
Music is a precious gift. Can you imagine life without it? All of us have had our moods transformed, our defenses softened and our hearts stirred by the power of music. Song Portaits carry the direct intention to heal and take that power to new and expanded potential. Almost always when I am finished with a session both the person receiving and I have tears flowing down our cheeks. Many report that listening to their song is like having a cheer-leading squad on the sidelines of their life, and is particularly helpful in transforming the inner critic that is constantly singing a negative song to ourselves. Some play it every morning upon awakening, and/or every night before they sleep.
When I was a child, my parents tried to teach me to respect myself enough so that I would not be used. Having come full circle, it is now my greatest joy to be used, fully and completely, in service and in love. God, use me for your muse, and let my voice sing out the songs that can remind us all of your safe and steady Hands. Amen.
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Copyright 2005 Scott Kalechstein Grace, All Rights Reserved