Never in a million years did I expect that composer/musician Prem Murti and I would cross paths. The Indian-based composer/performer produced the song “Love and Peace” is up for consideration on the Grammy® ballot in “Best Global Music Performance and has won the Best Music Video and Best Experimental Film honors at the Canadian Cinematography Awards (CaCA). It also received multiple Josie Awards nominations — Song: Vocal Event of the Year; World Artist of the Year: Prem Murti of India; Songwriter of the Year: Mike Greenly; Musician of the Year: cellist Tess Remy Schumacher. “Love and Peace” is up for consideration on the Grammy® ballot in “Best Global Music Performance.” There will be a show in Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House on October 22, 2023.
It’s not that Murti doesn’t already have something of a track record — so to speak. He was part of “Divine Tides” — the 2022 Grammy Award-winning full-length release (“Best New Age Album”) by Stewart Copeland , former drummer of The Police, and Ricky Kej. He did the official Lo-Fi mixes for the album.
But it was thanks to his connection to my friend Mike Greenly that I was turned on to the song, A multifaceted artist — skilled in singing, music composition, production, mixing, engineering, and voice-over artistry — Murti has worked with several notable record labels, such as Saregama, Zee, and Shemaroo as well as collaborating with numerous artists in India and abroad since 2013. Based in Chandigarh, India, Murti gained fame when his rendition of the song “Toofan Ko Aana Hai (Ik Pyar Ka Nagma Hai)” went viral across social media platforms during the pandemic. He also co-arranged and sang lead vocals on “Vande Bharatam” for the Republic Day parade at India Gate as 500 dancers performed to it. With Kej, he made “Salaam” — an anthem dedicated to India’s armed forces.
Though Greenly is gay, he didn’t write the lyrics to “Love and Peace” with Pride or same sex relations specifically in mind. His message was meant to be far more universal than that. But LGBTQ-identified people are reaching some of the highest positions in society now and attaining more cultural relevance. For example, Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Eric Varadkar, came out as gay. (He’s of Indian and Irish descent.) Pride Month has become more visible than ever.
Even with Pride month in the rear mirror now, “Love and Peace” struck me as the perfect song to highlight LGBTQ pride by writing about Prem Murti. Greenly’s lyrics squarely keep the sentiments of that recent month in mind while suggesting loving acceptance of every diverse individual among us.
Recognized for his calming and restorative voice, the youthful Murti performs a vast repertoire of devotional songs, mantras, and other spiritually uplifting compositions. Buoyed by Murti’s beautiful and exotic music, “Love and Peace” has a universal quality that makes the message all the more profound.
T2C: Have you always focused on being a musician?
PM: Yes, it was always my childhood dream to pursue a career in music. Despite not having any musical background, I began a journey of self-teaching. Along the way, my friends and audiences recognized my blessed voice, encouraging me to include a focus on singing. As a result, I’ve found a balance between being a composer-producer and a singer. In the song ‘Love and Peace,’ I not only composed and produced the track but also performed the Shanti (Peace) Mantra section.
T2C: It seems like a unique combo of people. Do you always do such eclectic music?
PM: While producing music, I prefer not to confine myself to any rigid style. Instead, I think of whatever serves the song best. Since ‘Love and Peace’ is about harmony and togetherness beyond any geographical or language barrier, the selection of musicians and singers from different cultures was an obvious choice. For other projects, also, I would go with anything that will make our listeners feel good.
T2C: Are you planning a full album?
PM: While I have a deep appreciation for music albums, as they provide a compilation of songs with a shared flavor, I wanted to take a different approach for ‘Love and Peace.’ Instead of releasing an entire album, I aimed to combine the efforts of 5-6 songs into a single track, with the goal of creating a distinctive and exceptional masterpiece. There are additional factors influencing my preference for singles over albums, one being the shift in how contemporary audiences consume music.
T2C: Have you done music for films?
PM: I would love to, but until now, my focus has primarily been on creating music, doing production and mixing for independent artists. That’s kept me occupied. I’ve also been actively involved in singing and providing voice-overs for various projects. However, I’m always open to new opportunities.
T2C: What was the origin of your “Love and Peace” song?
PM: There are certain topics or ideas that we often don’t have the opportunity to fully explore when we’re focused on creating ‘commercial’ music. Love, in its broader sense … peace, in light of the world’s current climate of hatred and conflict … and spiritual themes and social issues are a few examples. These subjects have always inspired me and I’ve longed to create meaningful art around them. In this particular song, everything came straight from the heart, without adhering to any typical format. The inclusion of the Shanti (Peace) Mantra in Sanskrit was an unconventional choice, but it’s been widely embraced and loved by everyone. Furthermore, Natalie’s addition of some Hawaiian traditional lines beautifully complemented the song and harmonized with its essence.
T2C: I assume you had a musical idea but of all the lyricists, how did Mike Greenly enter your sphere of reality. What did he bring to it that you didn’t find elsewhere?
PM: I and Mike Greenly were in contact via email, sharing our thoughts and philosophies. We both had an interest in collaborating and creating something new together, although the specific topic was not yet clear. When the idea for the ‘Love and Peace’ song emerged, Mike was the first lyricist who came to mind. I believed he possessed the maturity and sensitivity required to write on such a subject. I had trust in him based on his previous works, which I had explored.
When he sent me the first draft of the lyrics, I knew I wouldn’t need to seek out anyone else for this song. I truly loved the lyrics. There were a few lines that I asked him to revise, and he graciously made the changes. Mike is an enthusiastic individual and was always prompt in making adjustments to the lyrics whenever I requested. Consequently, there was no need to search for another lyricist for this particular song.
T2C: Who did the production and how was it done?
PM: I composed and produced the song ‘Love and Peace’. The song is about peace, so I wanted it to sound very ambient and soothing. The selection of instruments like acoustic guitar, flute, cello and violin was done accordingly. However, considering the concept of peace and silence, it was also important to incorporate elements of contrast and dynamics. Just as you can’t fully appreciate light without darkness, I wanted to provide a contrast that would capture the listener’s attention. This is where my singing part came into play, utilizing large drums, electric guitars, heavy orchestration, and thick layered vocals. These elements added a powerful and intense dynamic to the song, creating a striking juxtaposition against the peaceful elements.
T2C: How did you find the musicians you used and what’s their backstories?
PM: Before I started working on this project, I had already established connections with so many musicians and singers through various social media platforms. They loved my musical style and singing and were also willing to collaborate with me in future. When the idea of ‘Love and Peace’ came, Natalie Ai Kamauu was our first choice as a lead singer because of her soothing and peaceful voice which was apt for this song. When it came to the lyrics, we sought out the expertise of Mike Greenly, a highly experienced songwriter who possessed the necessary skills to craft the ideal composition for this particular piece.
Once we had a basic foundation of the song ready, I approached other singers and musicians who seemed suitable for it. Annemarie Picerno has not only provided backing vocals but has also served as a guide throughout the process of releasing the song. Another lovely musician on our team is Tess Remy Schumacher, a talented cellist who, despite being senior to me, has consistently shown tremendous support and enthusiasm. She approaches music with the curiosity and dedication of a lifelong student. An Vedi, as a skilled violin player, and Russ Hewitt, as a talented guitarist, brought an extra dimension to the song.
T2C: You and your team were nominated for various Josie Awards. How did the awards organization hear of you and the song?
PM: ‘Love and Peace’ was my first song with this incredible team of singers and musicians. Receiving recognition at the ‘Josie Awards’ earned their trust. I was absolutely thrilled and honored upon hearing the news of our song and our team being nominated in various categories for the ‘Josie Awards’. It validates all the hard work, dedication, and creativity that went into creating the song.
I’d like to thank my collaborators, especially Annemarie Picerno (vocalist) and An Vedi (violinist), for keeping me informed about the award shows happening around us. Additionally, I actively promote my work through various channels, such as social media, music platforms, and my official website. This helps in gaining visibility. Furthermore, positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations have also played a significant role.
T2C: Given the Pride Month that passed us this summer, did you see the song’s connection to universal love … not just personal love, but the general love that Pride Month embraces?
PM: The song goes beyond personal love and does aim to highlight the concept of universal love. It explores the idea of love that transcends individual relationships and embraces love and acceptance for all people. The song celebrates the notion of love that unites everyone and promotes inclusivity and understanding.
Watch the “Love and Peace” music video here:
Prem Murti’s Website: http://www.premmurti.com
Essential Voices USA, Judith Clurman and Christmas Joy
Essential Voices USA, Judith Clurman, Music Director and Conductor, announces the release of Christmas Joy,a new collection of holiday music that was all recently commissioned by Essential Voices USA. The centerpiece of the recording is “Christmas Joy,” a through-composed work, scored for chorus and string quartet. The arrangement and text adaptation are by Josh Clayton and Judith Clurman. The carols heard are Silent Night; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Angels We Have Heard on High; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; O Come, All Ye Faithful; and Joy to the World. The two other pieces are “Illumination” by Pierre Jalbert (music) and William Schermerhorn (lyrics) and “The Snow” by Bill Cutter (music) and Lewis Carroll (lyrics). The recording on Albany (Troy 1955) can be streamed on all platforms. The recording was produced and engineered by Silas Brown, who was assisted by Doron Schacter and Michael Schwartz. The recording can be streamed on all major platforms. The published scores will be available in 2024.
Members of Essential Voices USA: Phillip Cheah, Paul D’Arcy, Olivia Sue Green, Chloe Holgate, Heather Jones, Linda Jones, Helen Karloski, Enrico Lagasca, Elizabeth Lang, Steven Moore, Neil Netherly, Nicholas Prior, Gregory Purnhagen, Elisa Singer Strom, Jason Weisinger with Apprentice members – joining on Christmas Jo y- Michael Douris, Roberson Keffer, Marie Schwab, and Norman Schwab; The Essential StringsSuliman Tekali and Yu-Chie Wang violins; Caeli Smith viola; and Coleman Itzkoff cello.
I Illumination 3:13
II The Snow 2:06III Christmas Joy 13:48
STREAMING LINK on all platforms
The premiere performances Judith Clurman will conduct her Essential Voices USA in A Concert and Family Carol Sing-Along on December 16, 2023 at St. Malachy’s – The Actors’ Chapel (239 West 49 Street), New York City, at 7:30PM. The chorus will be joined by The Essential Strings (Suliman Tekalli & Rita Wang violins, Caeli Smith viola, Aaron Wolffcello), Organist Stephen Fraser, and David Chase and Paula Leggett Chase, who will read beloved Christmas poetry. The event is part of EVUSA’S The Community Project, a program which provides concerts and sing-alongs and is free of charge to the NYC community.
The evening will include the World Premieres of the three new works that are featured in the ensemble’s recent holiday recording “Christmas Joy” (Albany Records): “Christmas Joy” – arranged, with text adaptation by Josh Clayton and Judith Clurman; “Illumination” – by Pierre Jalbert (music) and William Schermerhorn (lyrics);and “The Snow” – by Bill Cutter (music) and Lewis Carroll (lyrics). The poems that will be read include “The Night Before Christmas” (Clement Clarke Moore), “little tree” (E.E.Cummings), and “Love Came Down at Christmas” (Christina Rossetti). Organist Stephen Fraser will play an organ fantasy on the beloved carol “O Holy Night,” and the audience will sing-along with EVUSA on traditional carols, with newly arranged accompaniments for string quartet by Bill Cutter.
Here We Are Or The Search For The Meaning of Life
Let me just state that I love the Stephen Sondheim/David Ives musical/play Here We Are. It’s as if the genius, known as Sondheim was trying to resolve his life. The first act is cynical and the characters are hypocritical, while the second act is about coming to with grips with life’s choices and surrendering to the inevitable.
The music is like playing Sondheim jeopardy. His motif’s from other shows are blended into new songs that make you want to have a pen and paper to play the game. I can’t wait until the CD comes out. I’ve been told that it is being recorded in January.
The show is highly surreal, with life’s journeyIn question. Think “The Outer Limits” or “The Twilight Zone,” very Rod Serling.
Based on two Luis Buñuel films “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972) and “The Exterminating Angel” (1962). Act one has Leo Brink (Bobby Cannavale) a entitled tycoon whose opinion is the only one that matters, his wife Marianne (Rachel Bay Jones) who lives for beauty and is a bit on the vaped side, their friends Paul Zimmer (Jeremy Shamos), a plastic surgeon celebrating his 1,000th nose job, his wife, Claudia (Amber Gray), an agent who lives for the celebrity of it all, Raffael Santello Di Santicci (Steven Pasquale), an ambassador from Moranda who lives for the number of notches on his belt and Fritz (Micaela Diamond), Marianne’s younger sister, who wants a revolution, while also wanting to live the good life, searching for brunch. It turns out Leo, Paul and Raffael run a drug cartel. As the day goes down the hill Marianne keeps asking Leo to “buy this perfect day for her.”
Act two is a little more dark. While they finally find food, the consequences of their choices keeps them trapped in purgatory. Enter a colonel (Francois Battiste) whose parents were killed for $26.15, a soldier (Jin Ha) who has feelings for Fritz due to his dreams and a bishop (David Hyde Pierce) who wants another job, has a shoe fettish, and plays piano, until there is no more music. This act is very reminiscent of Steambath. I love the homage to “The World According to Garp” and the bear.
Playing butlers and maids and assorted restaurateur’sare the incredible Tracie Bennett and Denis O’Hare. Kudos has to go out to the wigs by Robert Pickens and Katie Gell and the neon various establishments. white box set and costumes by David Zinn.
Joe Mantello’s staging is exquisite, allowing for each of these brilliantly talented performers to take center stage. This is true ensemble acting and I hope when the Drama Desk is giving out awards this wins.
Where many have criticized the lack of music in the second act, it makes perfect sense. The music stops. The concept very much reminds me of Davids Cromer’s Our Town, when Emily dies and suddenly things are in color and have smells. It makes complete sense that once you are trapped the music would die.
Natasha Katz’s lighting really helps the shinny set take shape, Tom Gibbons’s sound makes the inner world come to life and Sam Pinkleton’s choreography is just enough to make this move seamlessly.
Alexander Gemignani, and Jonathan Tunick, make Sondheim’s music an art and I for one appreciate the subtlety and musicality. Many may not know that Sondheim was a game master and in this it is like he won the final game of “putting it together”.
Here We Are, is intelligent, witty with so much to say and if you ponder the meaning of life you to will walk away extremely fulfilled.
Here We Are, The Shed, 545 West 30th through January 21st
The Glorious Corner
TAP 2 — (Via Rock Cellar) Doubling down after a May 2022 report that indicated everything was a go for a sequel to 1984’s classic comedy/music industry satire This Is Spinal Tap, filmmaker Rob Reiner has now confirmed that plans are taking shape in a big way.
Not only is the sequel on tap (pun intended) to begin filming in early 2024, but Reiner recently told comedian/podcast host Richard Herring that “everybody’s back” for the sequel. This no doubt refers to principal cast members Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest, though Tony Hendra (who portrayed the band’s manager, Ian Faith, passed away in 2021).
The U.K.’s Guardian notes that the plot will reportedly center on Faith’s death, after which his widow inherits a contract that requires the band to do one last concert. Reiner is also due to return in the character of film-maker Marty DiBergi, a figure supposedly based on Martin Scorsese, who had directed celebrated music documentary The Last Waltz in 1976.
What’s more, Reiner also spilled the beans that appearances from Sirs Paul McCartney and Elton John and Garth Brooks are in the works too, among what one must assume will be a million other amusing cameos. After all, a film as beloved and influential as the original This Is Spinal Tap counts pretty much every living musician as a fan (give or take), so you know the sequel will hold nothing back when it comes to the entertainment factor.
In the podcast, Reiner also talked about This Is Spinal Tap’s remarkable afterlife, culminating in selection for the National Film Registry in 2002, after its initially unfavourable reception on its first release. “To wind up in the National Film Registry, that’s bizarre,” Reiner said. “We previewed it in a theatre in Dallas, Texas, and the people didn’t know what the heck they were looking at. They came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I don’t understand, why would you make a movie about a band that no one has ever heard of, and they are so bad? Why would you ever do that? Why don’t you make a movie about the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?’ I would say, ‘It’s satire,’ and I tried to explain. But over the years people got it, and started to like it.”
Personally, I found the 1984 original movie just hilarious. Aside from a great send-up of the music biz, the cameos were just fascinating: Paul Shaffer as PR-man Artie Fufkin; Dana Carvey and Billy Crystal as ‘mime’ waiters; Fred Willard; Anjelica Houston; Russ Kunkel; Danny Kortchmar and Fran Drescher as promo-gal Bobbi Fleckman … all just inspired.
Reiner’s on a roll – his Albert Brooks doc Defending My Life is sensational. A must-see.
Maybe an update of The Monkees’ HEAD next?
SHORT TAKES — Mark Bego’s Joe Cocker tome hit #4 on theAmazon charts this week. Here’s a great review from Goldmine on the book by their Lee Zimmerman: https://l.messenger.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goldminemag.com%2Freviews%2Fjoe-cocker-book-shines-light-on-unfortunate-undercurrents-of-a-stars-career&h=AT2zaG2QKuxuHdpJO1nPHKaiO7IWkbAHCBRAeq3m4-J45axSc_wBott7ABve8Wcd7GpQC13gybDWb2Hale6D809pTdtqqmpDoxC4u6FLA7SNNJ2jHbVKKpSaH1kxX4Ide1AyXDJXSZL2idNWvOch4A
… Micky Dolenz sang “Silly Love Songs” at Monday’s Troubadour benefit for Denny Laine and our spy said he really rocked it. Maybe a Dolenz Sings McCartney album is next? … So, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is authentic? Interesting choice for sure …
Writer and reporter Pablo Guzman passed this last weekend. An original member of The Young Lords, Guzman was a fierce fighter and brilliant writer. On Fox 5/Good Day NY for decades, he most recently was a reporter at WCBS. Here’s the Daily News take: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12799071/Legendary-NYC-news-anchor-Pablo-Guzman-dies-aged-73-Big-Apple-veteran-reporter-dubbed-son-Bronx-founded-Puerto-Rican-activist-group-Young-Lords-journalist.html …
And it’s official, the NY-launch for the Mark Bego Joe Cocker book will be Tuesday, January 9 at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Sara Gore; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Daryl Estrea; Tony King; Ace Shortly; Kjersti and Jeremy Long; Debbie Gibson; Van Dean; Liz Skollar; Maude Adams; Robert Vaughn; Steve McQueen; Zach Martin; Coati Mundi; Avery Sharp; Steve Walter; Gary Gershoff; Jane Blunkell; Kimberly Cornell; Paul Iorio; Lee Jeske; MArt Ostrow; Peter Shendell; Sharon White; and ZIGGY!
The Glorious Corner
A CHER STEAL — This year’s 97th edition of the Macy’s Day Parade was a rather underwhelming one, save for Chicago – inexplicably singing “Your My Inspiration” – and the always, indefatigable Cher, singing a track “DJ Play a Christmas Song” off her new holiday-themed album. The first few bars will terribly auto-tuned, but that seemed to disappear and Cher’s vocals rang full and bold.
She was, typically, a pro. Mixing effortlessly and emotionally with the dancers in a terrific set. Some pundits reported the clip was shot days earlier, but she was live and, just sensational. I wish more of today’s performers possessed her vigor and skills. That’s why most of the current acts, here today, will be gone tomorrow.
As we went to press, we learned that this parade was Macy’s most-watched edition ever! Congrats.
HALL VS. OATES — Some terrible news appeared in Wednesday’s media that Daryl Hall had taken out a TRO against partner-John Oates. I’ve loved what these two have done for decades and I loved Hall’s solo albums; especially the one he did with Robert Fripp in 1977 Sacred Songs. His record company at the time (RCA) hated it so much, they held up its release for three years.
I also well remember them in the 80’s when it seemed you could’t turn on a radio without hearing their music. 29 of their 33 singles were major chart hits on Billboard. But I do go back to them even in the 70’s, with their terrific “She’s Gone” which basically launched them. And, my favorite album of their War Babies, produced by Todd Rundgren. Quick note: That album sounds as good and relevant as it did when it came out in 1974.
The problem seems to arise from Oates wanting to sell his portion of certain songs to Primary Wave Artists – which ironically owns several of their songs already. It’s a small point, but that seems to be the issue. In all actuality, it’s another case of a classic-rocker selling his music.
In Oates’ book several years ago (Change of Seasons: A Memoir), he hardly mentioned Hall and regrettably that animus has apparently reared its angry head. They’re Philly boys, I’m from Philly and it’s just an awful coda to what was one of music’s major success stories. Sad all around.
SHORT TAKES — Terrific article in this week’s Closer on Micky Dolenz. Check it out here: https://www.closerweekly.com/posts/micky-dolenz-on-telling-stories-on-stage-and-in-his-book/
btw: Dolenz tapes KTLA’s Countdown To 2024 this week in LA …
I first met Phil Quartararo in the lobby of the old Mondrian Hotel in LA with John Sykes and we struck up a friendship that lasted until he passed last week. He was at Virgin for a time and worked with the artists there including The Spice Girls and Paul Abdul. In these fast-changing-times in the music business, he remained somewhat behind the scenes of late, but admitted he missed working with the artists. Phil was a guy you never ever heard a bad word about. Huge loss. Here’s Billboard’s take on Phil:
… As you’ve not doubt read, there is trouble in the Marvel-comic kingdom. The latest Captain Marvel movie (The Marvels) didn’t perform nearly as well as everyone hoped for and their newest star, Jonathan Majors as Kang, is tied up in several court matters.
So, we hear that Kang is out and Doctor Doom is in. Stay tuned …
And Forbes’ James M. Clash has released Amplified; culled from his terrific interviews with the icons of rock ‘n roll; including Grace Slick; Art Garfunkel; Ginger Baker; Micky Dolenz; and Roger Daltry. Here’s the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CNJZYW2J?ref_=cm_sw_r_apan_dp_WKCSH7AC0ZTK18RZF4ED&language=en-US NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Leeds; Kate Hyman; Bono; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Peter Abraham; Bobby Bank; Dina Pitenis; Frank DiLella; Donnie Kehr; Steve Leber; Don Wardell; Anne Adams; Billy Smith; John Boulos; Kimberly Cornell; Sam Rubin; Nexstar; and ZIGGY!
Tin Pan Alley American Popular Music Project and The Madison Square Park Conservancy Holiday Tree Lighting
Did you know the first public Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the country’s history took place in Madison Square Park? Celebrate the 111th anniversary of the first holiday tree lighting, with MSPC, the park community and neighborhood partners on December 6th from 4 – 6 PM
Enjoy this free joyful event with a photo op, baked-goods, and live music performances by acapella group, New York Life Singers, from New York Life Insurance Company and featuring guest vocalist Gabrielle Lee with Broadway Pianist and Musical Director, Alvin Hough Jr. in partnership with the Tin Pan Alley American Popular Music Project.
Know before you go:
- Giveaways while supplies last.
- No stroller parking is available so please consider leaving strollers at home if possible.
- Free and open to the public, no reservations are necessary.
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