Portals Featured Artist: Paul Nordin

AugustFalls-PaulNordin5C

Paul Nordin reviewing a take on the set on August Falls

This friendly fellow is Paul Nordin. He may look like a refugee from the set of “Vikings” but as it turns out, Paul is much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. So much so that he was asked to be the cinematographer for August Falls, Fairuza Balk’s most recent movie. (Bonus for Breaking Bad fans: Skinny Pete is her co-star in the movie).

Paul filmed our Song of the Sea music video many years ago, and we have wanted to do another one with him ever since. It was the desire to do a music video that first got us going on the idea of crowd funding.

Paul has been the Director of Photography on numerous award winning films and music videos. He has an eye for dramatic lighting, and best of all, he has the collaborative spirit that is key to the Portals vision. He has been an ardent supporter of Winter’s and my music since we met, and over the years we have grown to become family.

Which is exactly the way we like it. Every Portals artist chosen has become family to us in some way!

During our touring escapades, our song Porcelain Princess has emerged as a favorite among our concert attendees. The story of a porcelain marionette in love with her puppet master, she yearns to be a living, breathing girl. Indeed, she would come to life, with a beating heart and a flush in her cheeks, if only he would see her for what she could become. She laments alone in her dusty attic with the other theater props, living for the moment when the curtains rise and she can dance on the stage with him again.

The song is about feeling invisible, and also about the yearning we all have to feel fully alive. Porcelain Princess is the song we have chosen for the music video, and also the impetus for the theme of the entire Portals project; an old-world theater of mystery, where uncanny things happen between the cracks of the expected.

The Showtime feature “Penny Dreadful” is the perfect look to tell this tale, and Paul Nordin is the perfect cinematographer to capture it. His eye for framing and light, mixed with his penchant for the archetypal and mythic, make him our number one choice. Not to mention, he commands a capable and loyal crew! As any good pirate captain does! (Hey this is a Sharon and Winter production after all. Did you expect there wouldn’t be pirates?)

But enough talk! This part of the project is about pictures, not words. We’ll let Paul’s cinematography speak for itself, and post his reel:

And of court, the Song of the Sea music video, also filmed by Paul Nordin!

You can learn more about Paul’s work at http://www.embstudios.com

And of course we’d be thrilled if you’d make a pledge to the Portals Project right now and help us make all this awesomeness happen! There are great perks in it for you!

Learn more and make your pledge here:

http://www.sharonknightportals.com

Thanks for sharing in our journey!

Featured Portals Artist: The Visual Artists!!

In light of Maxine Miller signing on to the Portals project I thought this would be a good time to introduce our visual artists.

As you know, the music and video are the core of this project. But if we can reach our stretch goals we plan to bring the project into the visual arts, with a gorgeous art book with song lyrics, stories based on the songs, and companion art from these featured artists. I am honored to present them to you!

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus is a good friend, and also a big impetus in Portals existing as a crowd funding campaign. Through her own recent (and very successful) crowd funding campaign for her “Book of the Great Queen”, she benefited several members of her community by bringing them into her project. We see Portals as “paying it forward” by carrying on this tradition and including several artists in our project. Thus do we keep our communities thriving!

Also her art is striking and powerful! Celtic, tribal, and mythic, the art of Morpheus Ravenna evokes the ecstasy and mystery of union with the Otherworld. I am thrilled she’ll be contributing art that brings the Portals songs visually to life. In fact, one of our songs, No Long Night, was inspired by her. We’ll have her illustrate that one.

BONUS: She is also a tattoo artist You can have her art on your body!

Here are a few examples:

You can find out more about Morpheus’s art at http://www.bansheearts.com.


 

Maxine-Miller

Maxine Miller

Maxine Miller

I have loved Maxine’s art for years. She is well known, and has many iconic designs out in the Celtic and Pagan worlds. Imagine my glee when she began showing up to our shows in Portland! We have become friends, and I am super excited to have her as part of Portals. Her art is vibrant and incredibly ornate, with a bit of nouveau flair! I am thinking her style would be perfect for our song, Porcelain Princess!

BONUS: She has offered 10 signed 11×17 prints as perks! I’ll be adding this perk as soon as they arrive, so keep your eyes on the campaign!

Here are a few of my favorites:

You can find out more about Maxine’s art at: http://celticjackalope.com


 

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff

I first met Tempest, as she is known in dance circles, when a magazine she co-produced, Crescent, featured an article on Pandemonaeon. The magazine was beautifully produced, and really stood out due to Tempest’s art. Over the years I have continued to be wowed by her creations. She has a singular style, which is reflected in her costuming as well as her visual art. She was a natural choice when compiling my favorite artists for the art book.

BONUS: Tempest is also an excellent dancer, specializing in dance that delves into the realms of myth and magic! She is very much an opener of portals!

Here is why I adore her work:

You can find out more about Tempest’s art at: http://www.owlkeyme.com


 

Valerie Herron

Valerie Herron

I met Valerie through Maxine and have gotten to know her better through various mythic communities. Her artwork is sophisticated, emotional and evocative, and delves deep into the realms of myth and symbol. She’s got a spunky spirit with flaming red hair and a pagan-goth vibe that identifies her as “my people”. She combines fierceness and vulnerability in a way I just love!

BONUS: Valerie’s art will be featured extensively in Morpheus’ “Book of the Great Queen”.

Check her out:

You can find out more about Valerie’s art at: http://www.valerieherron.com


 

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

I first met Shauna as a mover and shaker in the world of Pagan leadership. Only later did I discover that she is an astonishingly gifted artist. She takes iconic, mythic images, and frames them in Celtic knot work and jewel-like accents, brightly colored and with bas-relief touches. Her style is romantic and beautiful, drawing heavily on Aurthurian and Celtic legends. I have an original hanging on my wall, and I love it!

Shauna’s art would be perfect paired with the song we’ll do with Heather Dale!

BONUS: Shauna also writes novels!

Here is a sampling of her work:

You can find out more about Shauna’s art at: https://shaunaknightarts.wordpress.com


 

WE WANT THIS ART BOOK TO HAPPEN. 

And we need to get well into our stretch goals in order to do it.

I’d love to get one or two larger donors in the next week. It would be a good boost for the campaign, and also a great news item! If you have been thinking you’d like to have Winter and I come to your home for a house concert, I’d be thrilled if you book one through the campaign today.

Also, if you are in a position to help us step up to the next level by taking on a role as Executive Producer, I would love to talk with you. Please contact me privately to discuss a specialty arrangement just for you. Email sharon (at) sharonknight (dot) net.

Of course ALL donations and sharing are helpful, so please keep it up! Together will will make something truly stunning!

PLEDGE TODAY:

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

Portals Featured Artist: Heather Dale

Heather Dale. Photo credit: Barry Gnyp

Heather Dale! The Celtic Myth songbird who’s heart is as pure as her voice! Another remarkably talented singer who is also incredibly kind. (Life is too short to work or play with people who aren’t you know?)

Heather smiles all the time. And it is genuine. She loves what she does, and it shows in her electric performances. Her partner Ben is a droll yet charming compliment to her bubbly joy. And of course they are both outstanding musicians.

Many of their songs are based in Arthurian Legend, and Heather is well-known in SCA circles. She is truly a poster girl for the Bardic Arts!

I was already rather start struck when I first met Heather, because I had heard her song “Mordred’s Lullably” on a compilation Cd called “The Secret Life of Celtic Rock”. When I heard this song, I was floored. I listened to it over and over again. Her voice, the melody, the theme, all really spoke to me.

If you’ve heard Winter and I perform live in the past year or two, you have most likely heard us perform Heather’s song “Joan”, about Joan of Arc. Now you have a face to go with the name! And links to her music!

About 6 months after discovering Heather, SJ Tucker invited Winter and I to play her Strowler events, and we jumped at the chance, largely because we’d be sharing the stage with Heather Dale.

I am thrilled that she’ll be singing with me on Portals, and I already know exactly which song we’ll be featuring her on!

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Heather Dale! If you are at all a fan of Celtic music, you’ll be glad to have discovered her!

Here are three of my favorite Heather Dale songs:

And here is a cool video of Heather playing several public pianos that her hometown of Toronto has placed around the city for people to play. Great idea!

Want to learn more about Heather? Here are some links!

To dive right in to the music, I recommend her Bandcamp page! She is very prolific so make a cup of tea and settle in!

https://heatherdale.bandcamp.com/music

And her website (currently being rebuilt):

http://heatherdale.com

And remember, we are able to include – and pay – these wonderful guest musicians specifically through the power of crowd funding!

Pledge Your Support for Portals and Claim your Awesome Perk Today!

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

 

 

Portals Featured Artist: Sonja Drakulich

Sonja Drakulich of Stellamara

This beautiful woman is Sonja Drakulich. She is one of my all time favorite singers; one of the best vocalists currently on the planet, as far as I am concerned. Her voice is pure and controlled, yet deeply evocative, able to elicit emotion with a command that few possess. I hold her in the the same regard as Lisa Gerrard or Loreena McKennitt.

And I’m not the only one. She is the most successful of the musicians we know, recently completing a lengthy stint touring with Faun. She is the only one of our musician friends who has performed in stadiums. As such, she has become somewhat of a folk heroine to those of us on the circuit.

The recognition she has gotten is well deserved. Aside from a rich talent and a stage presence that seems effortless, she is an incredibly nice person. You would expect someone like Sonja to be a diva, but she is remarkably down to earth and open. And she is supportive of other artists in a way that makes her the perfect Portals candidate.

Winter and I met Sonja through her musical collaborator, Gari Hegedus. Gari answered an ad on Craig’s List for Pandemonaeon, and joined us for many years. He plays more instruments than I can count, and has been instrumental in developing Pandemonaeon’s sound. He is an outstanding musician and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he makes an appearance on Portals.

I don’t know what else I can say about Sonja that would be more powerful that just introducing you to her music. So without further ado, I link you to Stellamara’s most recent release on Bandcamp. You can stream the entire album and if you don’t fall in love with Sonja by the second song, I may believe you heart has turned to stone.

Suffice to say, Sonja, SJ Tucker, and I singing three part harmonies on Melusina = dream come true.

Also, here she is with Faun:  That is her singing lead!

You can learn more about Sonja here:

http://stellamara.com

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF PORTALS TODAY!

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

Portals Featured Artist: SJ Tucker

SJ Tucker. Photo by Earth to Steve.

This is the first in a series I will be writing on the artists we are featuring in the Portals Project. This is the essence of Portals; to strengthen our vibrant artists’ community by shining a light on one another’s talents. Throughout the campaign, I will introduce a Portals artist here and share a bit about why I love them. Starting with SJ Tucker!

SJ Tucker is a pint sized package of pixie-pirate awesomeness, with a heart of gold and a voice of pure magic. She is also a consummate show woman, with probably the best command of the stage I have ever seen. She is incredibly kind and open hearted, but also fierce as a lion.

I first met SJ at the Heartland Festival in Kansas 10 or 11 years ago. She was a wee wisp of a girl back then, and as we sat around the campfire, she announced to what was clearly a community she knew and loved that she was going to go for it; that September she was going to quit her job and try her hand as a full time musician. At the time, I was coming off “The Warner Brothers incident” and remember thinking to myself “Good luck with that, I hope it works out for you”, not feeling at all confident that making a living in music was even possible.

I think we can safely say, it has worked out for her!

She is one of the most well-loved performers in all the mythic-magic tour circuits we play, and for good reason. Her songs are filled with charm and whimsy. Her lyrics are clever and imaginative, weaving poetry and humor as she parts the veils to reveal fantastical worlds within. Her voice is honey and yearning, and her command of her instruments is masterful. Her stage presence is larger than life and utterly captivating. These things combined have won her a large and loyal following. I hope you get a chance to see her completely own the Neverworlds Stage at Faerieworlds! She and Tricky Pixie (all of whom are featured in Portals) do a great job on the main stage too, of course, but it’s as though the Neverworlds Stage was made just for her.

As Winter likes to say, SJ Tucker is a force of nature.

On a more personal note, she’s got a special place in my heart because she visited me in dream about 6 years ago, one of those vivid dreams that you wake from trembling, with the word “woah!” on your lips. In the dream she floated up out of nowhere and said, “You know, you really should be doing this”. Shortly thereafter, she showed up at Pantheacon, and asked me if I would play at her Strowler events. In many ways, I credit her with giving me the boost I needed to give music another try. And I am pleased to say, it is working out for me, as well!

To celebrate this dynamo, here is a sampling of some of my favorites of her work:

“Neptune”, from her Mischief album

A personal favorite, dark and haunting:

Showcasing her clever wit:

And her newest:

We are featuring SJ Tucker in Portals because we are sure you will love her as much as we do, and we know without a doubt that bringing her into the mix will help make a good project great!

 Learn more about SJ Tucker here!

Learn more about the Portals Project here!

NEW MUSIC!! – The Transmigration of Cora Riley: Music and Words

CoraRileyEP_Cover_Letter_BCWe have new music for you!

And it is a bit off the beaten path from what we usually do. These three songs are based on an urban fantasy novel written by upcoming author Ellie DiJulio, and combines the feel of my solo work with the harder rock of Pandemonaeon, with a hint of Tori Amos vibe thrown in for seasoning.

The story goes that Cora Riley arrives at her 30th birthday wondering what the hell happened. How did she end up here? Had she just been sleepwalking through her life this whole time? She can’t shake the feeling that there must be something more to this world, something more to her life.

She finds it, alright!

The story continues, chronicling her adventures as she stumbles into the Underworld, and comes to find that all is not well there. In her quest to get back home, she must draw on resources she never knew she had. In so doing, she finds the life she was meant for.

It is a fun read, and one that our tribe will likely resonate with.

Ellie-DiJulioI first met Ellie DiJulio in an online group, where I was struck by her clever writing style and her commitment to her craft.

So, I was delighted when she asked me if I would like to collaborate by creating a music collection to go with the book.

Winter and I wrote three songs, inspired by three characters in the book; Cora Riley herself, a mysterious secret agent who holds the key to Cora’s destiny, and the self-appointed Queen of the Underworld.

Winter and I are proud to offer these songs along with the book!

You also get a supplemental PDF with song lyrics, character insights, and details about Ellie and I, your devoted creatrices.

This project is offered as a bundle called The Transmigration of Cora Riley: Music and Words. It can be yours for $8.00!

Yep you get:

  • 3 Original Songs by Sharon Knight and Winter.
  • The Full eBook of the novel “The Transmigration of Cora Riley” in both .epub and .mobi formats.
  • A supplemental PDF with song lyrics and other details about the book and it’s authors.

For Eight Bucks. 

You can check it out right here:

https://sharonknight.bandcamp.com/album/the-transmigration-of-cora-riley-music-and-words

 Want to learn more about Ellie ?

You can visit her here: http://elliedi.com

Just want the songs and the PDF without the story? That is also available for $5, right here:

https://sharonknight.bandcamp.com/album/the-transmigration-of-cora-riley-original-ep

I hope you enjoy our latest offerings much as we enjoyed making it!

May life be ever more full of magic!

On Waking Dead, Mad, or a Poet

Cadair Idris

There is a mountain in Northern Wales called Cadair Idris, which means “The Chair of Idris”. Idris is a giant from Welsh mythology, although the name may also refer to a famous Welsh warrior-prince of the 7th century, who once defeated the Irish atop this mountain.

But that is not what interests me about this mountain. What I find fascinating are the legends surrounding it.  It is said that anyone who spends a night beneath this mountain will wake dead, mad, or a poet. So naturally, all aspiring poets are compelled to test their fate at the mountain’s foot.

As you might imagine, this is a theme near and dear to my heart. I was captivated by this tale when I first heard it many years ago in the skillfully woven yarns of modern-day bard Robin Williamson.  The quest for inspiration has always been the single most driving force in my life,  and I could well understand the desire to risk all for poetic gifts.

So naturally I had to write a song about it. :+)

I have been writing this song, in one way or another,  for several years. In some ways, all my songs are this song.  But, after several iterations, a song specifically about this quest has emerged, which we are calling “Fire in the Head”.

I am telling you about this because this blog’s purpose is to chronicle moments of magic. And in the last few days, this song has been a portal for the very magic it speaks of.

Winter and I have spent the last few days in our studio, taking our “Neofolk Romantique” album from “Pre-release” to “Done”.  We plan to have the formal album completed by Faerieworlds. Now sometimes, when you are in the studio, it’s just work. Fun work, but nothing particularly special happens. You just prepare, perform your parts as passionately and skillfully as you can, play them several times and choose the best take. If you are reasonably professional and committed to your craft, you will end up with an album that people enjoy. And it’s all good.

But sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes it seems that a portal opens up and something “other” sweeps in and takes over, a kind of spirit permeating your work and making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The song flows out effortlessly then, as if it is writing itself and you just stand back, its humble servant.

These are the moments that every artist lives for.

To be able to share these moments with my partner is a gift I cherish above all. It is incredibly bonding, powerful, and humbling, all at the same time.

This was the recording experience Winter and I had these last few days.

Everything you hear about studio magic – and that you hope happens in your own projects – happened on this song. New parts revealed themselves effortlessly, as if they’d been lying in wait all along. A playful creativity permeated each day, and Winter and I  got into that “mind reading” zone that musicians sometimes get when completely in sync –  having the same ideas at once, finishing each other’s sentences, giving each other chills and making each other weep; all that was there.

It felt so magical to me to have this kind of experience while recording a song specifically about the quest for the poetic gift; as if, in that moment, the song was fulfilling itself through us.

These are the moments that make all the sacrifices worthwhile.  The path of indie musician is not the most well charted territory, and really does feel like exploring the Wild West at times. There are few rules, and whoever figures out how to do it and survive, wins. We forego comfort,  security, and stability; we spend long hours on the road, often missing out on community-building opportunities at home; we spend long hours in the studio while others are hosting parties or going to the beach. We hear the word “no” more times than you’d think was humanly possible. We spend years floundering in obscurity striving to hone our craft, with no guarantee that our efforts will ever be recognized. We do all this in the pursuit of inspiration.

We risk our lives for poetry.

And when it comes, it is utterly worth it.

The screaming hag that rides the wind
Will rip the soul right from your skin
The hollow hills will swallow you
And flay apart your mind
To win the kiss of the Gifted Ones
we risk our lives on the mountain front
There’s some wake mad, and some wake dead, 
And some will rise with a Fire in the Head
– Sharon Knight, Fire in the Head

Coming soon on an updated Neofolk Romantique CD near you. 

Got an inspiration story of your own? Care to share it?

 

Sometimes, You Just Need To Go In The Blanket Fort

Blanket-FortYou know. I am just going to say it. This week, I hit a wall. I have been feeling frustrated and discouraged as to how to move my grand mission forward. It all feels like it’s growing too slowly, yet screaming louder doesn’t seem an effective solution.  I’ve been feeling stuck, invisible, and not sure what to try next.

And so – I am trying nothing. I am temporarily abandoning all my “Goals”.  I am just doing what I damn well feel like, and that has been creating art. I laughed so hard when I saw this picture of the blanket fort, because that is how I have spent the last several days. Snuggled under my covers, drawing and painting and watching Photoshop tutorials. (Well okay, no actual painting went on under my covers, that happened at the dining room table. I am hoping to stay married, after all).

It has been utterly therapeutic to take a few days away from my usual endeavor of “Growing a Music Career”, and all the hustle and strategizing and brainstorming and hard work that entails, let alone trying to find enough creativity to write new songs. I melted down and said “Fuck it, I’m not doing anything”. But I did end up doing something. And it  reminded me of how I used to go on Artist Dates, as part of the Artist’s Way program, and how rejuvenating that was for me.

I haven’t wanted to share this, I suppose because in some part of my goal-oriented Capricorn brain, I felt ashamed. Like I was giving up the good fight. Copping out somehow. But this morning I realized – this is part of the process. This is how I replenish the fountain. And I remembered – I have always had these periods, where exploring creativity from a completely different angle helps me to shake loose from a rut.

Sometimes you have to just stop hammering on stuff and go in the blanket fort. You know?

So – what do you guys do when you need to go in the blanket fort? What replenishes you?

Song Magic – Mistress of MacLyr

Storm at Sea, captured by Seraphina at Mister Jones

A much more tame and not even remotely adequate approximation of the storm I am about to tell you about.

Hi everyone!

Some of you have told me you’d like more song lyrics in my newsletter and on my blog, and also that you’d like to know how the music connects to my spirituality. So I  figured I’d explore both those topics here, in a series of posts I’ll call Song Magic.  I’ll share the lyrics, what inspired them, and ask you to participate with some questions about your own story at the end.

We’ll start with a newer one, Mistress of MacLyr:

Tempestuous twilight, bring my love to me 
Whose froth-white horses come sweeping in from sea 
And carry my heart away from me 

Melancholy eyes, deep with dreams of starfish 
Eerie moonglow hair, soothing sand into surrender 
And operas of Seraphim singing of your splendor 

Oh the roiling churning sea 
He will come for me 
I will wait by my crystal palace and 
He will come for me 

Your salty kiss is on my tongue and tangled in my hair 
With shells between my toes, and yearning for more 
I dance the dance of wild night and conjure you to shore 

Your beauty pierces through me, Master of the Sea 
Courtship fierce and stormy, you made your claim on me 
Your foamy tendrils gripped my hair, and ravished me away 

Oh the roiling churning sea 
He will come for me 
I will wait by my crystal palace and 
He will come for me 

Carry me away to your jeweled and dewey deep 
Never will a mortal’s kiss stir my soul from sleep 
I am ravished utterly away 
Oh I am ravished utterly away 

Oh the roiling churning sea 
He will come for me 
I will wait by my crystal palace and 
He will come for me

This song comes from a mighty storm I witnessed at 4am while staying in Jenner, which is a small coastal community in Sonoma county where the Russian River flows into the sea, and also my favorite place on Earth. I was staying in the last house before the river meets the sea, so I was as close as I could get and still be by a warm fire. My companion stood out on the deck while I wrote by the fire, and eventually asked “It is supposed to be like this?” I went outside to see that the sea had completely engulfed the strand between it and the river, and was now crashing up on the riverbank not 20 feet from our back door. I had never seen it do that, and I had lived here for 2 years. It was breathtaking, and a little scary. The next morning, in town, we read the headlines “Record waves crest at 50 feet”.

The moon was full, and the clouds were billowing and fearsome, sometimes hiding and sometimes revealing her. Light prismed out from the moon the way the sunlight often does, creating an otherworldly array of pearlescent moonbeams that lit the sea. And there was lightning, great forks of it striking and clashing as if some epic battle waged amongst the Gods.

To this day, I think it was the single most beautiful and awe-inspiring display of nature I have ever seen. If I were to choose one example of why I am Pagan, this would be it. These are the things that compel me to worship – the majesty of nature brings me to my knees in utter astonishment.

As many of you know, Manannan MacLyr is God of the Sea in Irish myth. And I adore the sea beyond words. In this song I attempt to give voice to my love of the sea in all it’s beauty and power.

When has nature brought you to your knees?  What experience in your life has compelled you to worship, has shown you a glimpse of the Divine? Will you share an event in your life that has cracked you open, that has broken through cynicism and sorrow and brought you to a place of wonder and openness?

Please share your story in the comments if you are so moved. :+)

(Mistress of MacLyr is from the album Neofolk Romantique and can be listened to here)

(You can get the song for free by signing Sharon’s mailing list. You also get monthly free improvised song snippets called Mermaid Kisses).

Imagination Vacation

Happy Monday my beauties! I was feeling a bit drab, so I decided to give myself some sparkle with this collection of places I’d love to visit. I share them here in the hope that you’ll find them a feast for your own senses as well. Can you imagine curling up in any one of these places with a journal, sketchpad, or musical instrument? I can!

Finding such places always helps to remind me that the world is full of amazing people doing amazing things, that nature is beautiful, and that mystery is inexhaustible. May these images kindle your own creative spark, stir the dreamer within, and rejuvenate your imagination as they have mine.