Holy Listening

Music is a powerful source of transformation that can connect us with the deepest parts of ourselves -

Music is a powerful source of transformation that can connect us with the deepest parts of ourselves - and each other. Two musicians who know a lot about this are Don Saliers, a professor of theology and worship at Emory University, and his daughter, Emily Saliers, half of the folk-rock duo Indigo Girls. The two, who met with Sojourners in Washington, D.C., this spring, are co-authors of A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice. They have a lot to say about the spiritual dimensions of music, and about how music offers both hope and healing.

The word "crossover" peppers their conversation and work, both as musicians and writers. The music Emily and her Indigo Girls partner Amy Ray play in smoke-filled bars on Saturday nights has a lot in common with the hymns and choral tunes Don plays during Sunday morning worship services. The effect on listeners is also similar.

"I see it in the motley crew of people who come to the pub, some with torn lives, some on the verge of great things, and from all different musical genres," Emily says. "We have a cross-cultural gathering on stage, the same thing that happens in a mixed worship community where music is the force that brings us all together, that gives us hope, and that speaks to our sorrows and our pains."

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Sojourners Magazine August 2005
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