In the world of popular music, there is perhaps no one that personifies subtle strength, dignity in the face of adversity, and self-awareness in the way that our subject has. When you combine these qualities with more than one hundred million in record sales worldwide, being credited with being the inspiration for Mick Jagger’s stage presence, and being dubbed “The Queen of Rock and Roll,” you have none other than Tina Turner. The Los Angeles Beat was recently granted an exclusive interview with Tina Turner and Regula Curti.
Indeed, Ms. Turner’s story is one of fame, adversity, rebirth, and triumph. It has been told and retold many times throughout the years, in books, articles, and movies. Tina Turner was an early advocate for women, speaking of struggles that are hard to imagine. She was one of the first to speak out in such a frank and honest manner about abuse, and helped open doors for many others. “I have empowered millions of women with my songs and dancing!” she states. When asked if she had any advice for today’s women, she says simply, “Get strong, go beyond and forgive!” choosing as always to focus on the positive.
If you haven’t been keeping up with Tina’s whereabouts, she is very much alive and well and living in Switzerland, but has no plans to tour in the future, “I enjoy my retirement, my private life, my house and gardens, my husband and friends.” Tina moved to a lake house near Zurich in 1994, and in 2007 teamed up with her neighbor, Regula Curti, and Dechen Shak-Dagsay to release an album called Buddhist and Christian Prayers, a collection of Buddhist chants and Christian choral music that was inspired by the Dalai Lama. You might not be familiar with the work, as it was originally only released in Germany and a few other countries, but it did rise to number seven in her adopted country, Switzerland. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama blessed the CD. According to Regula Curti, “We have been very fortunate to get a blessing for our first album, BEYOND, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I went personally to Dharamsala (India) to meet him and to get the following message, “All religions teach the virtue of love, altruism and patience, while showing us how to discipline and transform ourselves to achieve inner peace and a kind heart. Music, singing, and chanting are powerful ways to express and communicate such wholesome ideas.”
Seeing the success of this effort, the three released their second album in 2011, Children – With Children United In Prayer, which featured a children’s choir and again charted in Switzerland. In 2014 they rounded out the lineup with the addition of Sawani Shende-Sathaye from Pune, India, which added classical Hindu music and mantras to the repertoire. Shortly after, they released their third album, Love Within, which gained a worldwide release.
Last year (2017) saw changes to the previous lineup with the departure of Dechen Shak-Dagsay and the addition of three new members, Ani Choying from Kathmandu, Nepal, Dima Orsho from Damascus, Syria, and Mor Karbasi from Jerusalem, Israel. In November of last year, the group released the album Awakening Beyond, produced by Syrian-American Kareem Roustom. “He is an accomplished and much sought-after composer of orchestral, chamber & choral music as well as traditional Arab music.” Says Curti. “First he collected corresponding melodies of the various traditions from all the singers. Within two years the score of a compassionate orchestral sound was completed. We had the privilege to record with the famous London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road studios and with many other instrumentalists from the various cultures.”
The album wasn’t recorded in the traditional sense however, with the vocalists and orchestra together in the studio. As Curti tells, “We all met in the middle of Switzerland to record our voices independently from the orchestra. This experience of singing melodies together allows us to deeply connect on an emotional level–a place of love and respect where worldly differences fade.”
The culmination of this effort was announced with a press-release where Tina stated, “The world is ready for this!” When asked to elaborate, Ms. Turner states “The world gets more and more divided. We are all feeling the depression.” and continues, saying “The first thing we think of is prayer, something beyond presidents and preachers. AWAKENING BEYOND embraces faith and traditions and offers an elegant musical variety to heal a troubled world. We are women of six different backgrounds and cultures; the US, Israel, Syria, Nepal, Switzerland and India, raising our voices to find a unitary resonance meant to lift us out of our everyday trials, towards something greater. Our album, AWAKENING BEYOND, is the latest in our ongoing efforts to increase dialogue, respect, and engagement via education and creative projects. I feel strongly that it’s time for us to move beyond the division, into a greater spiritual connection and mutual recognition. Music is the most universal language to unite us all. Music can build bridges between You and Me, Us and Them.”
Recent events have given rise to the #metoo and #timesup movements, attempting to level the playing field and put an end to gender discrimination, and when asked if this effort is perfectly timed with respect to that, Tina replies that “our musical effort is about uniting and empowering men and women to something greater. Many of the biggest challenges we face are because of perceived differences in culture, belief, race, and gender. The mission of the BEYOND music is to unite, not to divide.”
As it was in the past, music can always be a catalyst for a positive change, and Tina has been watching these developments, stating “I’ve had bad times, as we all have. But now the good times are here and I’ve made the decision to go beyond and I would like to take as many people with me as possible. What really matters is love and compassion for all living beings and to be kind to everybody. I believe that the problem we face today in the world is because many people are not in touch with true love. My answer will always be music.”
When asked if any of these movements reached out to her to lend a voice, Regula responds; I am the founder of the BEYOND music movement and the BEYOND foundation. I have been gifted to sing, to create and produce music to heal, uplift and unite. Tina just finished her last tour as a rock singer when I asked her to join the BEYOND music project. She further said: “I strongly feel ready to contribute my spiritual side, my chanting practice and my story of growth and development as a human being to the people.” My contribution to empowerment of women are my BEYOND music projects. It takes all my attention.
As to the album itself, you probably won’t hear this on your local FM station of course, but it has garnered its share of recognition. According to Curti; “All our BEYOND music productions have attracted an audience worldwide. With the first two albums we were awarded with Platinum and Gold. In 2018 the BEYOND foundation will go “beyond the beyond” in establishing an online platform to encourage musicians worldwide to create innovative, cross-cultural music beyond borders. Beyondmusic.org will become a global exchange place for like-minded musicians to meet and collaborate. We invite musicians from any genre to join, to inspire each other and to develop new BEYOND music together. BEYOND music projects will continue our legacy and passion in celebrating the universal power of music and creating a world team spirit of togetherness and compassion.”
Tina’s voice is as stellar as always and when asked how she keeps her instrument in such amazing condition, she replies “I have good genes!” She says she won’t be performing live any time soon, but will still be actively engaged in other projects. “My next focus is my musical. It is in work production. I am very pleased with it. It took me out of retirement. The opening of the musical will be March 17, 2018 in London. I have a wonderful cast and I am most happy that Tony-nominated actress Adrienne Warren joined, playing TINA. She has the voice and the energy she needs for that.”
Hopefully we will continue to hear more from these amazing women in the future!