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Such beautiful music…very inspiring… healing…. —a new fan’s response upon discovering The Edge of Divine
The Edge of Divine, Johanna Beekman’s third solo album, came about by accident—but not in the way that people generally use that phrase.
After the release of her second CD, If I Could Fly, Johanna extensively toured the Pacific Northwest in an acoustic blue-eyed soul duo with friend and musical collaborator Lyris Cooper. They were often joined by other musicians, including Johanna’s father George Beekman and Lyris’s mother Suzannah Doyle. Johanna wrote many of her best songs during those years, but her busy schedule kept her from finding time to record them.
In late 2012 Johanna was rear-ended by a drunk driver near her Portland, Oregon home. The pain from her injuries brought most of her life to a standstill. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt to sing. So George, Lyris, and Johanna decided it was time to record the best of Johanna’s songs from the prolific period before the accident. They recruited pianist Suzannah Doyle, guitarist Sid Rosen, saxophonist Peter Argyres, cellist Nancy Sowdon, singer Audrey Perkins, audio wizard Dave Trenkel, and Johanna’s guitarist uncle Larry Beekman to provide a luscious musical backdrop for Johanna’s creative vocalizations.
The Edge of Divine includes several of her most beautiful and inspiring original songs, plus a handful of creative interpretations of well-loved pop, jazz, and traditional songs. One of the most touching pieces on the album, Dark Blue, was written by Corvallis songwriter Neal Gladstone. Johanna has loved the song since she was a child, and she was thrilled to have the opportunity to put it on her album.
Johanna recovered from her accident thanks in no small part to the healing power of music.
Slowly (words and music by Johanna Beekman). There are many songs about “falling” in love. This song is about letting love unfold naturally—not falling, but easing into love.
The Edge of Divine (words and music by Johanna Beekman). I originally wrote this song for a friend who was facing a serious life crisis. Later I found it to be theraputic in navigating the challenges in my own life. The song is about finding the sweet nectar of light even during the times of extreme darkness and uncertainty. Over and over again I have found that a seemingly hopeless challenge can produce great beauty and clarity after the storm fades. From the right perspective we are all standing on the edge of divine.
Exposed (words and music by Johanna Beekman). This song is a reflection on the turmoils of romantic love. Lyris and I have performed this in a variety of styles. I love the way Larry’s sweet guitar backing gives it a kind of Brazilian feel.
Half Crazy (words and music by Johanna Beekman). I had a series of relationships in my twenties. This captures the moment I realized that each one seemed like the one before it, and and that there might be a way to break that cycle.
Wade in the Water (traditional spiritual). I always love singing this traditional African American spiritual—especially when Suzannah accompanies me on piano.
Dark Blue (words and music by Neal Gladstone). When I was a child I spent countless hours listening to the music of Neal Gladstone—a friend of the family and one of Oregon’s most gifted songwriters. I still remember my very-young self sitting in the audience at one of Neal’s sold-out concerts when Audrey Perkins was singing a heartfelt rendition of this deeply moving song. Much to the dismay of the people sitting around me, I soulfully (and loudly) sang along with Audrey, note for note, all the way through. Decades later I was honored to be able to record the song and have Audrey sing with me in the recording. Thank you, Neal and Audrey, for the inspiration you provided to me over the years.
Stolen Grace (words and music by Johanna Beekman) I wrote this song about the realizations that came to me after my first major romantic heartbreak. My happiness did not live in another person. I was okay on my own. I didn’t truly understand this powerful truth at the time; it took many more relationships, and a few more songs, for the message to really sink in. But the seeds of insight were planted when I wrote this song. An early recording of the song served as the title track for my first solo CD. This new version is richer, darker, and deeper than the original recording, in large part because of Peter’s gorgeous alto sax and Sid’s sensitive guitar.
If You Have a Moment (words and music by Johanna Beekman). A simple love song about the single most important thing in life—this moment.
Summertime (words and music by George Gershwin). I have always loved to sing this Gershwin classic. In my teens I was in a multi-generational cover band called Wonderlust. We recorded a rocking R&B version loosely patterned after Billy Stewart’s hit. Since then I’ve done Summertime as a folk song, a soul sizzler, a jazz standard, an a cappella improvisation, but never the same way twice. When Suzannah and I started this recording, we didn’t know where it would take us, but we sure enjoyed the trip. This track was our first and only take.
Perfect (words and music by Pink, Max Martin, and Shellback). I’ve always loved this Pink song. It spoke to me in a very personal way, but it also resonated with my Women’s Studies background. In a world full of negative messages bombarding young people, this song is a ray of light and hope.
Back to the Sea (words and music by Dianna Hull). My mother sang this song to me as a baby, and it has followed me through my adult years. I’ve sung it in several bands and in two previous recordings. I never really thought about where the song came from until a decade ago when our world beat band Oyaya performed it at the Breitenbush Rhythm Festival. Festival headliner Arthur Hull approached the band and told us that his wife Diana, a midwife, had written the song as a gift to the women of the world. Thank you, Diana.
If We Flew Beyond the Morning Dew (words and music by Johanna Beekman). What would it feel like to be weightless? Every once in a while a song emerges fully-formed from somewhere deep inside me. This one happened when I was doing a vocal jam with a new piece of gear. We thought it was a great closing track for the album. Let’s fly into the heart of space and find a place that’s only grace. The journey continues….
All songs ©2014 Iconfluence. All rights reserved.
Musicians: Johanna Beekman, vocals and acoustic guitar; Lyris Cooper; vocals and bass; George Beekman, drums and percussion; Suzannah Doyle, piano; Sid Rosen, electric guitar; Larry Beekman, acoustic guitar; Peter Argyres, tenor sax; Nancy Sowden, cello; Audrey Perkins, vocals; Dave Trenkel, electronics. (For details see CD liner notes.)
Arrangement Collaborators: Johanna Beekman, Lyris Cooper, George Beekman Dave Trenkel, Suzannah Doyle, Larry Beekman, and Sid Rosen.
Producers: Johanna Beekman, George Beekman, and Lyris Cooper
Recording Engineer and Audio Wizard: Dave Trenkel (Newandimprov.com)
Graphic Designer: Ben Beekman (Benbeekman.com)
Photographers: Sally Sheldon (Pink Caterpillar Photography), Mina Carson, and George Beekman
General Advisor: Susan Grace Beekman
Mastering and Replication: Oasis Disc Manufacturing