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    Hello dear readers, It’s June and half of the year is almost gone. But we still have rain at times and it’s good for the grass and all the plants in our garden.  Although lately, it’s been getting to more sunny now, I’m sure that everyone is enjoying the outdoors. June is a very important month for [...]

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Page added on July 31, 2012

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GRACE NONO: Enchantress Chantress

by Ida Beltran-Lucila

With the current and rightful idolatry of Filipinos for Jessica Sanchez, the spotlight is focused on   gifted Filipino singers like Charice, Arnel Pineda, and others of Filipino descent like Anna Maria   Perez de Tagle.   I would like to add to  this group, a singer  I have admired  for almost a decade,   and has totally carved out a niche unequalled by anyone – Grace Nono.

I know Grace professionally  and personally  – she  is a close  friend of my  sister, I have watched   several of her performances, I was ballet  teacher  to her daughter and we performed together  in   Berlin  for  the Philippine Department of Tourism.   Just  recently, visiting  the same sister  in New   York, I had the pleasure of being part of Graceʼs birthday celebration.

Grace  Nono  is  known  for  her  interpretations  of  Philippine  traditional  music,  rhythms,  oral   traditions  and  for  advocating  womenʼs  issues,  environmentalism  and  spirituality.    She  has   created  original  Filipino  music,  not  as  a  derivative  of  Western  influences,  but  of  singing   authentic Filipino, rooted in ethnic  traditions.   “The act of singing  is in fact one of the  few things   that  generate  hope,  healing  and  redemption  in  the  midst  of  destinyʼs  misadventures,”  says   Grace, whose musical journey ran parallel to uncovering oneʼs spiritual essence.

Born  and  raised  in Agusan, Mindanao,  Grace  is  a  performing  artist  &  producer,  researcher,   author,  teacher,  cultural  worker  and  administrator.    She  earned  her  Bachelorʼs  degree  in   Humanities and Masterʼs degree in Philippine Studies, at the University of  the Philippines.   She   is currently  pursuing her  doctoral studies in Ethnomusicology at  the New York University.   She   has also had  training via  the Asia-Pacific Performance Exchange  residency,  the Asian Cultural   Council  residency,  the Asian  Institute of Management Arts Management Program, and the Asia-  Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCOʼs training on Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Grace has six critically  acclaimed solo  recordings and  five other albums produced by  her Tao   Music  Records.   She has represented  the  Philippines  in  world music  festivals,  performances   and  conferences: at  the House  of World Cultures in Berlin; Mercat de  les Flors  in Barcelona;    Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid; the Music Village Festival  in London; the Lincoln Centerʼs La   Casita  Festival  in  the  US;  concerts  in  Paris  and  Monte  Carlo;  WOMAD  in  Yokohama;  the   Exposition  on  Natureʼs Wisdom  in  Aichi;  the  Asian  Fantasy Orchestra  tours  of  New Delhi,   Bombay,  Tokyo,  Nagoya,  Osaka,  Miyazaki,  Bangkok,  Vientiane,  Yangon,  Hanoi  and  Ho  Chi   Minh; the Hong Kong Asian Arts Festival; the National Museum  of Singapore and the Singapore   Arts  Festival;  and  performances  and  conferences  in  Huairou,  Bangkok,  Jakarta,  Nanning,   Shanghai, Seoul, Penang, Taipei, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago.

She  has won  40  awards including:  the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men  (TOYM), The   Outstanding Women  in Nation’s Service  (TOWNS),  numerous Catholic  Mass Media Awards,   Katha, Awit,  National  Press Club, and  other  awards  for  her  artistic  and  cultural  contributions.    Her  book, The Shared Voice: Chanted and Spoken Narratives  from  the Philippines won  in the 28th  National  Book  Awards,  Arts  category.  A  second  book  on  the  music  of  the  Philippine   babaylan (Visayan/Philippine shaman) is in the works. She elaborates, “Aside from  being drawn   to matters of spirit and healing, and of course, music, this study  came about because again, we   observe  the  trend  of  our  medical  professionals  simply  mimicking  trends  in  the  west  in  the   emerging fields of music  therapy, or  our  religious shunning our rich musical heritage  in most of   their rites. Yet, if one takes a good look at our  traditions, we have always used sound and music   in  our  rituals which  invoked spiritual sources and  healing of  body and  soul…  I myself have all   these  years  experienced  the  healing  power  of  music,  which  never  fails  to  lift  the  spirit,   transforming whatever negative energies we carry in our hearts and bodies (stress, fear, doubt,   anger, etc.) which could eventually lead to illness, into a renewed sense of clarity, vitality, bliss.”

In  collaboration  with  composer  Bob Aves, Grace  has produced  an  audio  and  print  series  on   Philippine oral traditions and instrumental music, which are being used by  a number of teachers   and students  in  the study  of Philippine music, arts and culture. She  has also taught Philippine   Traditional Arts at the University  of the Philippines-Diliman, and Philippine Oral History  at Miriam   College.

As cultural worker/administrator, Grace serves as Founding Director for the Tao Foundation for   Culture and Arts, a non-government organization engaged in cultural regeneration and holistic   development initiatives, for which she has been granted support by the the Cultural Center of   the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and Arts, Toyota Foundation, the Ford   Foundation, UNESCO, the British Council, Advocates of Philippine Fair Trade, AusAid, and local   communities and institutions.

Grace Nono is a cultural icon and role model.  She is credited for breaking new grounds in the   understanding of Filipino identity through her research in oral traditions.  Her scholarly research   bridges the past to our future.  When she sings, she imparts pain, loss but at the same time   healing and redemption.  Her commitment to indigenous cultures, the environment and   spirituality is compelling.  Go and know more about her – google her name, check out her   youtube videos, listen to her music in iTunes, learn more about the Filipino and be proud of the   Filipino artist.

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