Featured Contributor - Music

Shay Nichols

A message from Shay Nichols

Singing is how I pray, how I celebrate being alive, how I express the depths of my love for the earth and all beings. I love exploring the infinite tones of the emotional landscape. I love the voice in all its forms, its intimacy, its nakedness, its wild versatility and unpredictability. For me, listening to someone’s voice is listening to their soul.

I took on vocal improvisation as a spiritual practice 15 years ago, and have developed my own style of voice work based on the principles of sound healing, nature singing, and vocal improvisation. I love this wild form of singing because it teaches people how to drop into their bodies, their truth, their hearts, and connect from that place and create beautiful music together. We nurture each other with sound– the body and spirit soak it up. It is a balm in these word heavy times, when people are exhausted by polarization, the news, and a general lack of listening. It teaches us to be generous, to provide support for someone to soar and express their truth. It teaches us to drop into a deeper intelligence, to listen to where the music wants to go.

Cricket Lullaby was created for a dear friend who was going through a health challenge that was very delicate. I imagined I was by her side, singing softly to her, weaving a melody to help her relax into the intricate healing work that her body was weaving. These particular crickets that I recorded in Santa Fe have such a soft sweetness.

I spent a year listening and singing at the Marin Headlands and Yuba river. The songs, named after wildflowers,  continued to create themselves right up until the recording, carrying the aliveness I so love about improvisation and the soundscapes found in nature.

The seed melody came from a sound healing that Laurel Murphy and I offered to one of my voice clients who got Covid, and then pneumonia. (Thankfully she is better now). I started working on it after Hurricane Ida, wishing I could send a healing balm to those in need.

I recorded this a few days after the hurricane. I imagined I was sending a message of comfort, simply honoring the suffering. and sending a current of love underneath it all.