Turning Music into Wine
Serah Reaps a World Beat Bumper Crop with Late Harvest via Great Northern Arts
For some, the eyes are the mirror of the soul. For Serah, it's her voice. The celebrated world music artist emanates pure exuberance with Late Harvest, her most recent Great Northern Arts masterwork set for release later this year. The first emphasis track, "Sailing," is already impacting adult contemporary radio; not surprising, as Serah's unique interpretation of the Christopher Cross song gives new meaning to an enduring favorite.
For "Sailing," as well as other Late Harvest offerings, Serah teamed with Wasis Diop, who contributed the ear-catching composition, "Everything (...Is Never Quite Enough)," to The Thomas Crown Affair, and to its soundtrack, as well. After hearing the Senegal native's music in a pivotal scene, Serah made it her mission to locate Diop and enlist his magnanimous talents for her previous album, Wing of Mercy, released in 2001, which yielded the Top 30 Adult Contemporary hit, "I'm Not in Love." Interestingly, Diop was familiar with her and her music, as well.
"When I met him, we clicked like brother and sister," Serah recalls. "He brought so much musically to everything. We co-produced and co-arranged quite a few of the songs on Late Harvest, and he sings vocals on many of them, and plays guitar and percussion on some."
Others who helped Serah reap Late Harvest include mixer Marc Plati (David Bowie), co-producer, co-arranger and keyboardist David Sancious (Sting, Eric Clapton, Seal), drummer Vinnie Colauita (Sting, Ricky Martin), guitarist Michael Landau (Joni Mitchell, James Taylor), saxophonist Andy Snitzer (Rolling Stones, Paul Simon), bassist Richard Bona (on tour with the Pat Metheny Group), percussionist Steve Shehan (Paul Simon, Sting), plus many more.
Late Harvest is ripe with emotions, both intense and subtle, that flow through the lyrics, melodies and rhythms - all the bounty from an artist blessed. "I love the whole creative process," says Serah, who's an exceptional painter, as well. (Her painting of a pair of harvest gold angels in the CD art is a gift unto itself.) "Very often, when I've finished an album, I take a couple of deep breaths and I'm all set - I want to do another one. I'm always listening for a key of inspiration. I wrote a song and decided that it was the theme of what would be this album."
As a result, Late Harvest and its central song, the enchanting "Dolce (Late Harvest Wine)," are based on centuries-old European folklore. As Serah explains, "A vineyard owner returned from defending his ideals very late in the summer, after the normal harvesting time, to discover that all of the people who helped him harvest in previous years had waited for him out of deference. The grapes hadn't spoiled yet, but were tremendously sweet. The wine that was made from them was called late harvest wine, and because it was so sweet, it was a dessert wine.
"I don't know a lot about wine, because I'm not a drinker, but I love the metaphor of transformation."
Songs such as "Dolce," are contemplative, but Serah is equally at ease when kicking up her heels with "I Think I Know" and the second single, "Stand By Me," to which she takes a light-hearted approach to the classic.
Authentic in all aspects of her life, Serah truly brings the world to world music. A resident of the breathtaking Santa Barbara Mountains, she has also lived in France and Africa.
"I'm always loving to explore and incorporate the whole world music theme, simply because it's been my life," Serah reveals. "When I lived in Africa, I was working the drought area and at that point in my life, I felt like maybe doing music wasn't enough. I felt like I needed to do something hands-on. It was a lot harder than my idealism ever anticipated, but it always seems like something Higher than you gets you through it. I feel grateful that it happened - and that I was able to do it. I feel like it has never stopped blessing me. And one of the wonderful things about being there was that I got introduced to African music."
"She dedicated a year and a half of her physicality, spirituality and mentality to the cause before leaving for France where she worked with French musicians and eventually with others from the African continent. Because of these influences throughout Serah's ongoing personal journey, her music is as intoxicating as the wine it now toasts and enlightening to the deeper yearnings we all have."
Her social consciousness, as with her higher consciousness, is consistent with her music, words and deeds. As such, Serah is a steadfast supporter of Sting and Trudy Styler's Rainforest Foundation and attends its benefit events. Other causes she has supported include the 1999 Concert for the Hague Appeal for Peace, in The Netherlands, where she performed with her international band before a gathering of 8,000 like-minded participants.
Serah's charming adobe-style home, which has captured the imagination of the media, is festooned in frescoes that she and a dear friend, Meg Roberts, have joyously painted. As with the music Serah creates, the feeling is boundless and magical.