Megan Chaskey would like to take you to the “higher realms” with the music on her fourth album, Naam Radiance, which features her chanting and singing traditional Sanskrit lyrics to melodies she mostly composed and joined by a stellar lineup of musicians:
cellist DAVID DARLING (a New Age Album Grammy Award winner),
guitarist and pianist SCOTT PETITO (who studied at the Berklee College of Music),
percussionist MIKE GUGLIELMO (who attended Molloy College for Music Therapy and is a board-certified music therapist),
Celtic harpist AINE MINOGUE (a popular Irish recording artist, folklorist and lecturer),
and supporting vocalists Leslie Ritter (Amy Fradon, James Taylor, Shawn Colvin) and Beth Reineke (Rick Danko, Pete Seeger, Anne Hills).
“My Naam Radiance album is structured similarly to one of my Naam Yoga therapy sessions which starts with a brief meditation, followed by time to get in touch with one’s present state through meditative movement while singing mantras, then our movements become very rhythmic and energetic during the middle portion, and finally it winds down again until at the end we are relaxing and settling into a deep sense of release. Throughout we are moving in coordination with our breathing,” explains Chaskey.
“Practicing Naam Yoga promotes radiant health through postures, rhythmic movements, mudras which are hand and finger positions, breath and “Naam” or sacred sound to harmonize all levels of your being -- physically, mentally and emotionally. It stimulates the life force within us and helps us develop intuitive awareness, spiritual intelligence and health.
“I wanted the album to serve as enjoyable music to listen to, as well as a relaxing and healing experience. You can simply listen or you can sing along. The music is as appropriate for a quiet, candelit evening as it is for exercising, stress management or massage therapy. To make the music connect as fully as possible with the human experience, it is almost completely vocals and acoustic instrumentation including percussion for the rhythmic movement quality,” Chaskey states.
Naam Radiance begins with “Invocation,” the one piece in which she uses the traditional melody instead of her own. “This serves as an introductory prayer. I always start my personal morning meditation as well as my Naam Yoga sessions with this.” Chaskey considers the rest of the album to move through three developments. “The next three tracks slowly lift us up. ‘Aardas Bahee’ and ‘Aapa Sahaee Hoa’ musically provide the sweet melancholy of a love song, and lyrically bring hope and blessings in the former and positive energy and opening of the heart in the latter.” Between these two long tracks is the only instrumental on the album, the three-minute “Cello Interlude” in which David Darling overdubbed many highly-variant cello parts.
The second in the trilogy of tunes “gets into the energetic, dynamic, percussive pieces that represent the movement of Naam yoga.” The final three tracks help integrate the energy. “Haray Guray/ Ballad” uses the same “Haray Guray” mantra as previously, but this time with a more lyrical arrangement that slows it down and presents it with piano-cello backing. Chaskey ends the album with the emotive, relaxing “Sat Nam” in which she overdubs her voice several times as if singing in a temple.