Singing from the Subconscious
“Rose Diamond’s warm tones, voice modulation, and breathing tips create a kind of trance in me during my lessons. The relaxation and breathing allow me to create a quality of sound and reach notes that I never dreamed possible.”
“Rose’s work with me is about how true communication begins with my
whole-hearted, unified intention, breath and sound. With each breath I
take, I have learned that I may free my voice [by allowing] the flow of my breath to express the ecstatic joy of being alive. She has helped me to re-connect with my essence.”
“How less cumbersome is my voice now and my need to return to its use as primary in reclaiming of self I am engaged in; how crucial to this particular journey is lightening the load.”
“I have taken only a handful of lessons over the past year whenever I
could with Rose. For the first time in years I have not ‘lost my voice’ during the winter months in the classroom. I am happy to have my speaking health back for the first time since early childhood.”
“The fact that I am actually singing after so many years of fearful
silence amazes and excites me. For this I am grateful.”
-students of Singing from the Subconscious
“I am familiar with the McClosky technique, and with Rose Diamond’s work. I recommend this approach to the production and maintenance of a healthy voice for anyone who wants or needs training in speaking or singing.” – Dianne Pierson, MD
“I have taken only a handful of lessons over the past year whenever I could with Rose. For the first time in years I have not ‘lost my voice’ during the winter months in the classroom. I am happy to have my speaking health back for the first time since early childhood.” – Sarah Hotchkiss, performer, violin teacher, and public school music teacher.
“The fact that I am actually singing after so many years of fearful silence amazes and excites me. For this I am grateful.” -Name withheld by request
“Rose brings a wide variety of interests to her work…most notably her gift of music. I believe she understood musical ‘intelligence’long before Howard Gardner’s research and theory became common knowledge.” – DeeDee Jameson
“Thanks again for sending me your new CD…
Congratulations. Well done!…The flow of material takes the listener on a coherent journey. Your singing is so free and easy. You do indeed represent McClosky technique very well. Beautiful!…Your recordings have inspired me.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a delight to hear you again. Your voice has such power and range and the songs are so heartfelt. Great to hear the Lotus songs again. Wonderfully expressive. Beautiful arrangements. Congratulations to you on a profound and musical gift.”
“Thanks for the CD – it sounds wonderful. Good work on everybody’s part…. mixing, mastering and, oh, yes – performing. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
“Thank you so very much for the new CD! The songs are so heartfelt and the autoharp accompaniments are truly lovely. The instrumentals are great–man, do they zing! Lady, you sure can play that thing!”
“I love your melodies and am really glad to be a part of it! Beauty!” -Tim Cummings
Best Traditional Album Monkton-based singer/instrumentalist Karen Sutherland (Ed. Note: Karen Sutherland is now known as Rose Diamond) released two fine albums this year. Sutherland is a staunch traditionalist and her first release of the year was “If Ever I Have Had a Friend: Mountain Songs, Ballads and Tunes for Autoharp.” Later in the summer she released “The Flower of August,” an album of mostly contemporary songs with a very 19th century feel. Sutherland’s voice has classical overtones, and these two albums remind us that folk/traditional music isn’t all singer-songwriter-guitar generated. Possessed of a voice that can fill any hall with glorious sound, Champlain Valley-raised Karen Sutherland has been wrapped up in singing and music-making both as performer and educator since before the dawn of laptops and cell phones.
While we don’t hear a lot of autoharp music these days, it is fair to say that in Sutherland’s hands we have a master player. She doesn’t simply strum (which will produce a pleasing sound for the novice player) she also picks out melody, doing so very effectively on “Aristocracy (aka Colored Aristocracy),” “Castle Kelly” and “Cotton Picker’s Rag,” among others.
Sutherland has delved deep into the mountain tradition, and with a foray into Celtic music on this CD. “You’ve Been A Friend To Me,” Track 1, is a Carter Family song. The oft recorded “Shady Grove” gets yet another setting with Pete on clawhammer banjo. The folk standard “Wildwood Flower,” which Woody Guthrie used as the basis for his “Reuben James,” gets the full verse treatment here. Another mountain modal favorite is “The Cuckoo,” and the album ends with “The Old Log Cabin for Sale,” again from the North Carolina vocal tradition.
Sutherland’s Celtic influences rise in “Castle Kelly,” and the popular session tune “Mairi’s Wedding.”
I will profess to liking Track 5, “Harrison Town,” the best for its catchy melody and fuller production with Pete on fiddle, recording engineer Colin McCaffrey on mandolin and Tim Cummings on border pipes.
Imagine it’s 1890 and you are attending a concert at a local music hall or opera house. It’s a special event, for you have traveled miles by horse and buggy to get here. As the concert begins, musicians with guitar, fiddle, cello, harp, whistle or mandolin in hand take the stage. With this small semi-classical orchestra seated, a substantial woman walks to center stage and the performance begins. What emanates from the stage is music full of warmth, accessible as music that comes from folk roots but played by musicians whose talents are beyond what you might hear at a local barn dance. When the singer begins you are enthralled by a trained contralto with a powerful and emotive voice.
On Karen Sutherland’s just released “The Flower of August,” the listener is transported back in time to the days before amplification when music that wasn’t classical, but also not exactly in the folk idiom, music that Stephen Foster might have written, was in vogue. This was music played and sung by consummate professionals requiring a powerful voice able to project in large auditoriums, and versatile musicians adept at playing with accuracy and sensitivity. This is where Sutherland takes the listener on the 11 tracks of this new album.
We recently reviewed Sutherland’s “If Ever I Have Had a Friend,” an album of traditional mountain songs, ballads and tunes for autoharp. That was a very good album but of a different genre. “The Flower of August” has a very different feel to it, more sophisticated, more uptown, and certainly more intellectual than this previous release.
Here Sutherland, who teaches singing, really lets loose and shows off her considerable vocal training and power. Hers is a voice that goes beyond the requirements of most folk music. We rarely think of semi-operatic vocalization in this musical genre and yet it works here quite well.
Sutherland and her husband Pete are the primary composers and arrangers here. Other contributors include their teenage son Calum, along with a poem by Vermont’s famed musicologist Helen Hartness Flanders, a poem from A.P. Graves and three songs by mid-20th century American composer Lotus Dickey. All of it has a very 19th century feel to it.
The lyrics seem to come from another time and several of the songs are adapted poems set to music by Karen. This is music that could easily have been composed in America’s Victorian period in the post-Civil War era. The words evoke images of nature, faith, love and caring for others.
Sutherland’s assertive vocals are greatly enhanced by some beautiful instrumental backup. She has gathered a very talented cast of sidemen for this project. Pete Sutherland plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin and keyboard, and we find him shedding his old-time music pedigree for a more middle-of-the-road sound. Tim Cummings plays whistles and pipes; Will Patton contributes bass and mandolin. Jeremiah McClane is on accordion; Susan Reit, harp; John Dunlop cello; and Laura Markowitz, violin and viola. Colin McCaffrey of East Montpelier engineered the album continuing to show how versatile his work is.
What the listener gets is a very warm and woody sound. There are no sharp edges here; the overall sound is calming and meditative. The tracks featuring cello and violin, or harp, are as lovely as any you’re likely to hear outside the classical realm. Polished is an adjective that covers the whole production, the clear content owing its successful carriage to the work of Lane Gibson who mastered the final product.
Karen Sutherland has a crisp, old fashioned Yankee drive on piano when accompanying dance tunes. No stranger to town hall pianos of all shapes and sizes, her favorites are still the waltzes. Possessed of a voice that can fill any hall with glorious sound, she has also been wrapped up in singing and music-making both as performer and educator since way before the advent of laptops and cell phones. In this recording, she showcases her expressive singing as well as her songwriting and tunesmithing, applying her wealth of experience to traditional forms, but with a subtle and playful twist.
Pull up a chair for a big New England home-cooked meal of nourishing music.
By Art Edelstein
Arts Correspondent – Published: December 30, 2010