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About my new album, Black Moon Rising

About my new album, Black Moon Rising

The last few years have been about the most heartbreaking that I’ve ever had.

From the death of my much loved wicked stepmother, to fiery breakups that left me feeling ashamed, guilty, and angry- I had a lot of material for ‘shadow music’. Shadow music is a term I use to describe music that speaks to the dark, and even destructive emotions. I think that sad, angry music, can sometimes be the best therapy… At least it is for me.

In its cinematic emotionalism, colorful instrumentation, and intricate textures, I hope Black Moon Rising takes your soul on a journey through what pains you, and to the other side. (All in less that 20 minutes!)

Black moon rising will be available on iTunes in February 2016.

You can enjoy the video for ‘Sorry’ from the album below. All likes and shares are appreciated. So, go ahead and make my day!

What is a black moon?

We’ve all heard of a red moon, yellow moon, even pink moon…

… but what is a black moon?

Once we all thought the moon to be white,

whiter than snow and bright. But that’s not true, it is a Black Moon…

appearing so bright, yet so dark, made up of dust an unremarkable gray.

This is the black moon.

The black moon is the reality behind the glimmer

the black moon is the moon that denies the sun

Which after all, is her waning nature.

Does it impress you that something so dark could shine so bright, and bring such poetic casts to a comparatively glimmer-less night?

I think it’s important to be impressed.

I think it’s important that the dark side of the moon

is realized as simply, as–

                    the moon…

      Beautiful, Dark, Cosmic, and Cyclical.

So is life–Beautiful, dark, cosmic, cyclical.

After all it’s one of the darkest rocks in the sky that fills our night with light, and the darkest corners of our mind that challenge our purity to shine.

Like us, It is in the moon’s nature to be dark,

because to be dark is to be able to reflect light.

Can you see the black moon rising?

 


 

18 Moroccan travel tips for westerners

18 Moroccan travel tips for westerners

I cannot believe how many butt cheeks I’ve seen in less than 24 hours. Goodbye modest Morocco, hello sensual Spain! Maybe my 3 weeks in Morocco, a Muslim country with a high standard of modesty has sensitized me… but I’m seeing a whole lot of fashionista butt cheek, and all I have to say is: Nice tan! (okay, I have other things to say but I’ll save it for another article)

Morocco was a beautiful experience that has touched me deeply in some permanent ways. I feel spiritually inspired, socially engaged, and excited to be headed to more familiar territory. For such a small planet we really live in different worlds. There are an endless amount of stories that can come from this experience, but to start I want to share with you 18 important travel tips for westerners heading to Morocco.

1. Don’t be rude, but don’t be afraid to say no.

2. Learn basic greetings in Arabic and French, as well as basic questions.

3. Pack diarrheal medication, pepto, motion sickness medication, and treatment for rashes, bug bites, and burns.

4. If someone wants to “show you their shop”, that may mean they want you to pay them for a tour of someone else’s shop.

5. If it can have sugar, it does have sugar… And maybe milk. If you are sensitive to this, then be sure to check… And maybe cook for yourself.

6. Take care of the people who take care of you, this will keep you on the right side of Allah

7. Pack a spray bottle in case the water is mysteriously not working and you need a shower.

8. Don’t look too wealthy, it will only make your trip more stressful.

9. Skin is more provocative than skin tight clothing. Dress conservatively and comfortably.

10. Compassion is grand, but remember that it’s not your job to pay every citizen of Morocco, no matter how much guilt they inspire in you.

11. A taxi in morocco may have four passenger seats, but will end up with 6 passengers. (2 in the front seat, and 4 in the back)

12. The brotherhood is strong in Morocco, but the sisterhood is stronger. If you are a woman traveling in morocco and need help, your girls got your back.

13. Get ready to kiss and be kissed! Many men won’t touch, or speak to a woman, but greet other men with at least three kisses and a long embrace. Women generally kiss each other 3-4 times upon greeting as well.

14. Not all businesses are woman-friendly. I don’t think you’d be stoned or anything, but respecting the local normal definitely can have you feel more comfortable and secure.

15. If you’re engrossed in conversation as you walk, it’s much easier to shake off, or ignore the unofficial tour guides trying to force their services on you.

16. If you want to eat Vegan in Morocco, you will likely have to be rude at least once. Moroccan people take their hospitality very seriously, and desire to make you feel welcome and at home. Denying their offering of bread, cheese, butter, milk, fried sugar cookie, etc. Is difficult to explain, and even more difficult for them to understand.

17. The men’s restrooms generally have longer lines than the women’s…. Plan your pee breaks accordingly.

18. Ramadan happens once every year. This is a holiday of daytime fasting, and it’s offensive to smoke, eat, or drink anything in public until after the time of the break-fast. Make sure you know if you’re heading to a Morocco during Ramadan.

For pictures of beautiful Morocco (at least the parts that we were fortunate enough to visit) check out my facebook photo albums.

 

Some snapshots of people and vistas of Tetouan, Morocco. We came here to visit Daniel’s brother who has been living here…

Posted by Angela Cross on Wednesday, July 1, 2015

 

A little Prayer:

May the spirit of gratitude pervade our experiences, especially when we find ourselves lost, scared, confused and in need. May the spirit of gratitude show us the path to wholeness, and dynamic peace.

Welcome to Morocco

Welcome to Morocco

Snap, crackle, pop- the sound of my back every time I move a muscle, not that I’m moving very many muscles because I am beyond exhuasted. We had been in northern Morocco for about a week, my jet lag had cleared up, my stomach was groovin on the water and food of Tetouan- and then we went south.

*cue suspensful music*

Ouch.

The first leg of the trip was a 2 hour bus ride to the train station. Then we took an 8 hour overnight train trip to the bustling city of Marrakesh.

Marrakesh

From there we took what was supposed to be a 5 hour bus ride over the High Atlas Mountains. The High Atlas are the countryside of countryside. Our drive was such an incredible shift from Moroccan city into tiny villages of people washing clothes in the river, and living without doors, while building grand and beautiful mosques. The faithful spirituality that is prevalent here is rather touching and unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Baited breath, I imagine great endless sand dunes revealing themselves as we cross this great mountain range. I fantasize about how cool it will be to see the transition of high desert mountain to low desert ancient sea, gone sand dune… And then our bus broke down and all I wanted to do was lay down and get rid of the awful stabbing pain I gave myself staring out a window in one position for 5 hours.

 

The Sahara has so much variety in its landscape. There are many seasonal river beds, and lakes that are uncrossable in the wet season, but dry to the touch in summer. There is so much more green than I expected. The Sahara in Morocco looks much more like California than I’d care to admit, and isn’t at all a uniform sea of sand dunes. (though large regions of sand dune obviously do exist)

 

Artsy map from Zagora Hostel

Our hostel in Zagora met us at the bus station and welcomed us with tea and cookies. Their Arabic and french were awesome, and at least a few them speak English well enough for us to understand that our desert excursion would unclude: luxury bivouac, camel, 4×4, and lots of Moroccan food. We arranged our trip on the terrace of this lovely little building with air conditioned rooms. Feeling like a real life desert princess, only more privileged.

After heading off the farthest southern road in this region of Morocco we off roaded for a few hours , stopping here and there to see various awesome things like wells, springs, oasis, and cool plant life. Finally we made it to camp in time to play in the dunes, have dinner and star gaze in an impenetrable desert quiet.

On our excursion we met a nomadic Berber family, who shared tea and a moment of peace with us. They rolled out a carpet for us to sit on, and we all enjoyed their living room- the open space in front of their palm shack. We sipped tea, watched the baby gurgle and squirm on the carpet, and listened to the rooster keep an eyeful watch over their camp. They call the sky their roof, and the earth their floor. I told them it was the most beautiful house I had ever seen, and I wasn’t exaggerating.
Our guide, Mustafa was an incredible resource with darn good english. If you want to see the Moroccan Sahara, check out Karim Sahara and ask for Mustafa to be your guide. Tell him Malac Berber, Brian Adams, and Daoud Mayaoud sent you.

A few words on Morocco

Northern Morocco and southern Morocco may as well be different countries. The northern dialect and southern are quite different, and the north is full of Spanish speakers- whereas the south demands Arabic or French. The north exhibits a diversity of wealth, education, and religious observance. It is common to see a local northern Moroccan woman walking in jeans and a tight top without her head covered. In the South, outside the city, I didn’t see this at all… Literally not one woman in nontraditional dress. Northern Morocco seems run by street cats, and they also seem to be everywhere in the south as well. I haven’t seen very many dogs, but I did hear the cries of one dog that I’m still praying for.
Unemployment is at 20% in Morocco, and literacy at 50%. The Moroccans that I’ve talked to about this say that the Moroccan government is asleep. There is a King, and his pictures are everywhere. The royal guard seems respectful and much more pacifist than I’ve seen the Los Angles Police Department be. (Not that all precincts are alike) I wonder deeply at the ills of Morocco. On one hand I’ve never met such welcoming, kind, and generous people. On the other hand I see far too many blind, and malformed people for 2015. The diet here is absolutely terrible. Bread is served with every meal, and it’s common to put sugar in everything… There was even sugar in my orange juice at times!

Final Thoughts

Now we follow the river valley through the winding High Atlas on our way back to Marrakesh, where we catch a train back north. I’m glad I came to the Sahara, and that I experienced another region of Morocco, and I’m glad to be leaving. The poverty in this part of Morocco leads to edgy encounters with faux-shop owners, unofficial tour guides, and the grand-Prix-du-cabby. (the near fist fight that occurs when a tourist tries to call a cab in Marrakesh) Such an inspiring trip, waking up music, ideas, and desires that I never knew I had. I’ve seen some of this country’s beauty and some of it’s shadow, and am reminded that I am grateful to have been born so lucky.
There’s a lot more pictures from this excursion, check out my facebook album.

A little Prayer:

May our strengths outweigh our weaknesses, our judgements pass as quickly as they were made, and our Compassion awaken to extend its reach to further and further corners of existence.

I'm done with the desert.

Outhouses, Film Crews, and Bears … Oh my!

Outhouses, Film Crews, and Bears … Oh my!

When I was 25, I realized that I needed a quarter life sabbatical. I had begun working at a pizza shop at 15 to support my saxophone habit. A dozen jobs, eleven homes, and ten years later I realized that I had missed the point. I realized that money had become more valuable to me than my time, and more important than music herself. “I need a revolution in lifestyle”, I said “and so does my world.”

Lifestyle is the art form of all art forms. From our earliest ancestors, music and painting were integral to understanding the world, managing our history, and learning who we are. The art of living in the 21st century then cannot only be about attaining wealth, power, and influence. So, what I’m really trying to say is that my boyfriend and I are moving to the country to start a music farm.

 

So here I go, house hunting and living the lifestyle of Okanogan, Washington. Life is good! I’ve got a nasty sunburn on my back from digging holes in the garden in my underwear, a gritty mineral deposit on my hair from the hard water of the well on this property and an futile obsession with safeguarding myself against ticks.

 

House hunting in the Okanogan is an experience I highly recommend. Pack a lunch and a roll of toilet paper and get ready for a fun day of hiking and off-roading.  This is a part of the world where living ‘below the poverty line’ may mean that you grow all your own food and spend your days running cattle over your 80 acres. In Los Angeles the reclaimed tractor seat barstools and DIY wooden palette furniture would be called ‘BoHo chic’… here it’s called junking, and it is a way of life. It seems that I’ve found a place to sink my crafty, tree-hugging teeth into.

 

But, since we are moving from LA we figure there is only one way to make our grand exit, and that’s with a film crew.

The experience of making some reality television with a rag tag bunch of creatives from all over the world was so much more fun than I could have imagined, and so much more work. The series, Unplugged  is about families making the shift from conventional lifestyles to unplugged, or off-grid lifestyles. When I think reality television, I think competition, humiliation, and/or drama. This is a show of a different color. I won’t spoil any of the episode’s surprises, but I promise you there is hilarity, fun, wisdom, and knowledge. The show airs on the FYI network this fall!

There are moments (especially cold mornings when the wood-stove has gone out) where I wonder… what in the world am I doing here? Our new Okanogan friends reassure me that that feeling is normal, and returns in full force in the dead of winter.

For the first time in my life 65 F is warm weather. Growing up, I’d wait for a day below 70 degrees so I could break out my favorite scarf, or beanie… now I wait for the days to get above 50 so I can do naked yoga in the sunset.

Moving to such an undeveloped part of the world is both exciting and strange. Our health insurance plan will include emergency helicopter service since we’ll be at least 30 minutes away from the nearest paved road and in a part of the world that knows the meaning of weather.

 

It’s hard to say how we will integrate into the Okanogan community. Right now it feels like we are a mix of esteemed guest and fresh meat. Money doesn’t flow in great quantity through this remote region, and technology is hanging out somewhere in the 80s, so us modem cowboys get to be conscious of the impression we give to the locals. In a town of 1,000 a first impression really is all you get.

What’s next for me? Where do I go from here?

Business, weddings, and babies… we’ll see if I survive.

Stay tuned and deeply resonant.

13 States in 13 Days

13 States in 13 Days

Goodbye again, Los Angeles. It’s late March and I’m on my way to what I could probably start calling home.  When I set off from Los Angeles earlier this year I thought that at this point I’d be awkwardly taking a picture with a camel somewhere in the Sahara.  In fact, I am awkwardly typing a wayward blog post while driving through cow country in northern Nevada.  Surprise and expectation have been so unusual these days that I can’t even tell them apart anymore. I’m falling in love with the unknown, which is proving to be a process of letting go, receiving, and focusing.

On Valentine’s Day, 2015 we for a road trip we affectionately referred to as “13 States in 13 Days.”  My body was still coping with snowy, cold weather- you can see the bags under my eyes in this picture to prove it!

The snow through Pennsylvania brought visibility down to “oh shit” at times, but seemed to calm down once we passed through Illinois.

Not only did the weather settle down, but so did everything else… Iowa, and Nebraska are remarkably flat monotonous landscapes, so I began mixing!

The corridor of cool seemed to be in the Black Hills, South Dakota. A heartland of Native American spiritualism, great co-ops, hip street art and friendly people afforded us a couple of days of rest and sightseeing.

 

Missoula Montana, home of banjo playing hipster cowboys, backyard farms, and bicycle enthusiasts was the first legitimately bad-ass town we had seen in days. Though we only spent one day in Missoula, we got invited to two awesome music shows, and went to two different fantastic tea and coffee shops! (That’s my kind of town) We stopped in to chat with a Yurt manufacturer (run mainly by musicians) and to do some shopping at a market that would make Whole Foods blush, called Good Food Store.

 

We also had an awesome time staying with some friends in Spokane, and had even more fun learning that Spokane is pronounced “Spo-can”, not Spo-cane”.

Upon arriving at the farm after a 3,000 mile tea party in a Subaru, we crashed for days before feeling like real human beings again. Check out this Road Trip Map!

When we finally came around we got to start our new WOOFER life for a 2-month residency in Okanogan, Washington. (don’t know what a WOOFER is?)

We raked, and we raked… and we raked some more. We split wood (okay, Daniel split wood) tilled the land (okay that was Daniel too) and started seedlings. (yay me!) I fashioned myself a recording studio in the wood-stove sauna, and was given my very first farm-girl vest! We’ve got good wifi, wonderful friends, dogs to play with, cool cats, and the daily march of spring budding around us in waves of green.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me, and please talk to me in the comments below.

Surprises make things interesting, and expectations make things sustainable.  This gypsy existence has taught me to embrace change, and generate a field of gratitude that both heals me, and teaches me humility like nothing ever has.

 

So, what’s next for me? I’m ready for my closeup; reality shows, being on tv, and ducks.

 

Stay tuned, and deeply resonant.

WTF is a New York Moment?

I sit in a Sunset Park (Brooklyn) apartment above a mortuary, listening to the wind howl. A blizzard (yes, a blizzard aka snow-hurricane aka snowicane?) is making its way through the city, and I sit in a house full of creatives singing nonsense into a microphone. #NEWYORKMOMENT Every moment has a beginning, so when did this moment begin? About five months ago, I turned 28: the maximum age for such reality-television extravaganzas as American Idol. So, I decided I’d go ahead and send in an audition video to both American Idol and The Voice – the latter of which I discovered actually sounded kinda fun (coaching sessions with Pharrell Williams? Sign me up!).

A week or two later, I was delighted to be invited to an executive audition for ‘The Voice’ (never did hear from Idol folks). The audition dates were in sharp conflict with my and Daniel’s (already planned) Africa-Europe trip, but we made it work; cutting short a global trip seemed balanced by the opportunity for some hefty exposure (which could do wonders for my musical career). We scheduled an east coast family-visiting trip, topped with a jaunt to New York for my audition… just in time to experience #WINTERSTORMJUNO

Winter storm Juno “could be one of the top two or three largest storms in the city’s history” says New York Mayor Bill De Blasio… So here I sit “keeping myself safe” with a six pack of Guinness Extra Stout. #NEWYORKMOMENT

I had damaged my voice about a week prior to the audition and had been on vocal rest, which became house arrest as the weather in New York got colder and windier (which worked wonders – thank you Daniel!).

Audition Time!

As I sat at the coffee shop across the street sipping lukewarm lavender water before said audition, I set an intention that this audition was about ease and abundance, and that something much bigger than me was at work, and at work in all of our favor. Texts and messages flowed in from my loved ones wishing me great success, and I felt ready to win it! Though I felt ready to win, I was not ready for waiting in a line for 2 hours after a 1:20 appointment had come and gone (I guess when you’re big time, it’s hard to be on time).    

After a long stretch in the cold hallways of a New York recording studio, I started my audition with the most difficult song in my repertoire (whoops!), and chose the most out-of-the-box interpretation of the song as well. This was my first live vocal audition (yes, I’ve performed as a vocalist… but never auditioned as one), and I grossly underestimated the effect of nerves on my voice. Whoops again! The judge was Michelle McNulty of McNulty casting (it was an honor to get to sing for this actress/businesswoman-extraordinaire) who said that I sounded “pitchy or maybe nervous, but had some delightfully quirky moments.”

Pitchy – lacking sense of pitch and intonation, out of tune, not able to stay in key

Nervous – what was actually happening

Delightfully Quirky Moments – my life

As a seasoned classical musician, and someone who gets consistent feedback regarding my amazing sense of pitch… I attribute this not to actually being off pitch, but to choosing too many jazzy, colorful notes for a non-musician critic who expected something more standard.

Anyways, her exact ‘rejection words’ were “not this season”… so will I audition for another season? Who could say – though at this point, I don’t want to. Part of my mistakes in this process was diving too far out of my comfort zone, and pushing too far out of the box…. BUT I don’t want to sing into the box! I want to rub my vocal rump tenderly on the outside of the box, while cosmic wonders burst into the glittering void. Maybe one day I’ll find my place.. likely that place is not on reality television. #NEWYORKATTITUDE

So ,what was our final New York moment? Escaping to Florida for some family time vacation.

Here’s some photos of Florida, New York and such from our travels…

So then, what ever will you do!? Well, I’m working on two new albums and a bunch of studio releases for upcoming licensing opportunities. Hopefully you’ll be hearing me on some random commercial very soon.

I’ll also be releasing my “How to Actually Enjoy Classical Music” free e-course, as well as “Music Practice for Self Realization” sometime this year.

Also, now that I know I won’t be flying back to the states for season 9 of ‘The Voice,’ I’ll have as much time as I want in Europe visiting family, meeting new people, working on music, being my sister’s maid of honor, and writing my adventures onto this blog for you: my loved ones.

Most importantly, I really have new ground on my fear of rejection. I just put my almost-best-foot forward and it wasn’t quite a fit (insert some clever Cinderella reference), so what has that taught me? GO FOR IT ANYWAY! I’m still alive and I’m still breathing and singing. I’m gonna make some badass music and get it rejected and accepted all over town, so that my loved ones can hear that call in the night, the lighthouse in the storm leading them to the shores I like to call ‘creative paradise’.

My intention was ease and abundance, that something much bigger than myself is at work in my favor – and not just my favor, but all of our collective benefit. So, I know that this seeming-rejection is a blessing. As I see it, I have two choices when facing rejection… get stronger, or get weaker. I’m proud of me and my nervous, damaged vocal chords and so grateful to be back to rest and developing my production and business skills.

NEXT STOP: THE GARDEN

This is the song I should have started with, Amy Winehouse’s Rehab. This is a recording of me in the Brooklyn apartment above the mortuary after a couple of long-awaited beers and having released my disappointment in my performance:

 

Rehab Cover

 

Here’s a roadtrip REmix of Alan Watts on Thoughts: (mixing on long open highways is the best!)

Last project from the east coast, Sunshine and Waxing Moon(namesake of my next album):

Stay tuned, and deeply resonant.

Beyond Portlandia

Beyond Portlandia

It all started with a simple question: “Where is the best place to plant an apple tree?” After a few solid minutes of scrupulous surfing of the inter-webs, a very serious life-choice was underway… Let’s take a road trip! Of course, every great trip requires a great crew.

Meet the cast of this epic tale:

Amira ‘The She-ra‘ Shilleh

Señor Ruskadimov

The Paw

The La

Portland, Magical land of the $40 Organic Feast
It was Christmas time in Portland, and all through the town no-one was stirring… Particularly Daniel who had just finished about 11 hours of straight driving through the night.

But seriously, there really were very few people in the streets of Portland… Perhaps it was the bone-chilling breeze, or the large number of awesome micro-breweries… We had plenty of space, and never had to pump our own gas. (“You’re in Oregon, you don’t pump your own gas”, we were informed with a suspicious grimace… after pumping our own gas)

We celebrated NYE at StormBreaker’s and nearly died from food-gasm. I highly recommend the everything.

 

After not making reservations for New Years Eve dinner, and realizing we should have made reservations for New Years Day brunch, we were on our way to the mystical land known as, “See it All”.

Goodbye Portland, you comfortably-clothed, messy-haired, cheap-theater haven of brunch-lovers!

 

See-it-all (Seattle) Where we really did not see it all

After another  four hours on the road, we arrived in Seattle just in time to pee! After a magical romp to the local Starbucks (one of several) and a quick bite at a heavily vandalized cafe, we were on our way… but wholly inspired by the fancy boots, and high fashion sense of all 10 people we saw roaming the streets of Seattle this fine New Years Day.

Did someone say “kittens”?!

Our stay in the dirt road region known as Okanogan was about as sweet as it gets. We enjoyed an awesome wood-burning sauna (photos not included), a fresh layer of snow, a sweet jam-session (home-made apricot), and many friendly country folk.

Sadie, our Air-B&B host, was super helpful and made sure we were plenty warm, and kitten infused in our funky little hippie house.

I also got to spend some time with my Aunt Deanna, (aint she purdy) and have some of the most delicious food ever. (Ask me about the vegan-gluten-free bread) It seems that the further north you go the better quality ingredients you get, and the less it costs ya!

 

Okanogan (Oak-A-Noggin) At-A-Backwards-Glance

Population: app. 41,000

Persons per Household: 1.23

Kittens per Household: 2

90’s VHS per household: app. 30

Standard level of awesome: HIGH

 UFO sightings per road trip: 1

Cost/gallon of gas: really f&$^n’ cheap

In Conclusion

I think I’ll build a yurt and move to nowhere, but first: The Grand Adventure of the Secret Audition, also known as “Why is Angela on the East Coast?”

Stay in tune, and deeply resonant!

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

ForgivenessCover

Forgiveness – from for- “completely” + giefan “give” 

I am here to love you, and you are here to love me too.

No matter what you do, I will do what I can to see You.