touches the earth
"This is a standing prayer/For the oceans and the air/For the mountains and the trees...Every creature, every stone...This is a standing prayer/That I may become aware...That I may begin to care."
-- lyrics from Derrik Jordan's song "Standing Prayer"
Multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Derrik Jordan wants to make people more aware of the beauty and wonders of the natural world, so he decided to use his new album, TOUCH THE EARTH, to call attention to environmental problems and possible solutions.
Jordan, who wrote the music and lyrics, describes his music as "positive pop and globally-conscious soul." Using a worldbeat sound that mixes in folk, pop and soul, and includes instrumentation and rhythms from the Caribbean, Africa, South America and Australia, Jordan plays about three-dozen instruments on the album.
Jordan and his label, Worldsoul Records, have committed to distributing 10 percent of the recording's profits to ecology-preservation organizations such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the Citizen's Awareness Network (CAN). Since 1997 Derrik has worked with CAN to shut down nuclear power plants in the Northeastern United States and replace them with clean, non-polluting, sustainable energy sources. The group has been instrumental in closing plants in Massachusetts and Connecticut with the focus currently on the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station located 14 miles from Jordan's home.
TOUCH THE EARTH is "a direct outgrowth" of four annual vision quests Jordan took a few years ago that were led by Lakota chief and medicine man Phil Crazybull. Each quest lasted four days without food or water in the woods within a six-by-eight-foot space with prayer flag-poles at the corners. "It was a time of personal growth and transformation for me," Derrik explains. "It was a very focused time of intense prayer and meditation where you sort through your issues and get your priorities straight. I became very aware of the plants and wildlife around me and realized how special our planet is. I made a connection to nature that I could not ignore."
According to Jordan, "Two songs came directly out of my vision quest experience. The title for 'Indigenous' came about when Chief Crazybull pointed out to me that every human being is indigenous to this planet. He taught me the Lakota phrase 'mitakuye oyasin' which means everything is related -- people, animals, plants, rocks, soil, spirits. It is totally inclusive. That became the underlying theme for the recording. I used the phrase in the tune 'Standing Prayer' which talks about appreciation and compassion for everything around us."
Those themes continue on the title tune, "Touch The Earth," which is about "how we act while we are on the planet, how each person connects with the world and how each of us is affected by everything else." "Killing The Country" asks hard questions and challenges people to stop destroying our world and wasting our resources. "Something's Gonna Change" covers problems such as arrogant governments and overwhelming technologies, but offers hope for the future.
This track has received top honors as "Reggae Song of the Year" from Just Plain Folks, the world's largest songwriter organization. "Endangered Species" points out that all living things are merely "fragile creatures on a fragile world." "Undying," the only instrumental tune on the album, features Jordan improvising on five-string electric violin and was conceived behind the idea that our world and everything on it should never die but only change throughout eternity.
The recording also includes several love songs from traditional ones such as "True Love" and "Love to Spare" ("about reaffirmation and reconnecting") as well as others that celebrate affection for nature including "Panorama" and "Song Of The Forest" (the latter's lyrics adapted from an American Indian poem first published in 1918). Jordan says "Water, Wind And Sun" is "a love song to the planet and the possibilities we have to make it a better place by using alternative and natural energy sources."
Jordan, who produced the album, not only plays violin and sings all the vocals, he also plays acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, kalimba, autoharp, recorder, wood flute, ocarina, mandolin, hammer dulcimer and a wide variety of percussion instruments. He is joined by bassist Tom "T-Bone" Wolk (Hall & Oates, Carly Simon, The "Saturday Night Live" Band), drummers Johnny Yuma and Sean McLoughlin, didgeridoo player Nebulai and The Mighty Simba Horns.
In addition to performing his own music in concert, Jordan regularly plays with world music acts such as Simba and Tony Vacca & World Rhythms, the improvisational Natural History, Joe Sallins' Three-Man Quartet jazz-fusion act, and the bluegrass-oriented Stockwell Bros. (which has recorded some of Jordan's tunes). Jordan also played for many years with other world music outfits such as Cayenne, Spunk and The Sundog Revolutionary Orchestra.
He has played on albums by Will Ackerman and Lisa McCormick as well as producing and playing on recordings by Lisa Sokolov, Tom Neilson, Natural History, Simba, Gary Rosen, King Happy and Red Thunder Cloud. Jordan's compositions have been recorded by Angela Bofill, The Embers, O.C. Smith, Lisa Molina and Urban Speech. Bofill recorded two of his songs, "Share Your Love" and "Love Me For Today," and had him sing backing vocals on one of her albums.
Derrik grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, and lived there until he graduated from high school. "My seminal musical memory is the first time I heard the music of The Beatles. It changed my life. I was nine years old and immediately had to start taking guitar lessons." He started his first band when he was 13. The next year his pop-rock group played at numerous school dances.
When he was 15 he began writing his first songs "which opened a path for my life that I have never deviated from." Soon he also was playing piano. More musical influences came quickly: Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Jordan began learning violin when he was 16. He attended Bennington College and fell in love with Vermont. Jordan received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music.
At college he studied under two Guggenheim fellowship Award-winners -- Henry Brant ("who taught me a lot about composing") and Milford Graves ("who introduced me to world rhythms and taught me to play congas"). One school term Derrik went to Paris ostensibly to play jazz, but spent most of his time "busking" in subways. He also traveled to Brazil, Trinidad and Ghana (West Africa) to study world music.
Jordan spent three years in New York City playing with various bands and constantly writing new material, often with a variety of collaborators to stretch his skills. He also worked as an jingle singer and recorded vocals on hundreds of commercial demos including ones for the Army National Guard ("they're still running it ten years later") and Snickers candy-bar. He sang the lead vocal on the music for the exercise video "Your Personal Best with Elle MacPherson."
His experiences in New York led to his first solo album, EXPECTING A MIRACLE, featuring a stellar cast of top session musicians. Derrik also has recorded an instrumental CD, SUPERSTRING THEORY - EXOTIC DUETS AND IMPROVISATIONS. In addition, Jordan wrote and recorded two songs that appeared on the album RIGHT AS RAIN which benefited the Rainforest Action Network and also featured Jerry Garcia, Paul Winter, Mickey Hart and Beausolei.
"This album is called TOUCH THE EARTH," explains Jordan, "because it is important to reach out and touch Mother Nature physically at times to reconnect with the natural world that we come from. But the phrase also has the larger philosophical meaning that we need to do things in our lives that give back to the planet, take care of it and hopefully make it a better place."
"Touch the Earth" CD
from amazon.com $10.98
This recording is a celebration of nature and a call to environmental action. Conceived as a concept album, it's a collection of 13 songs that share an environmental theme, recorded with full band arrangements in a variety of world music styles (reggae, afro-pop, samba, salsa, and funk). Featuring his passionate 5 string electric violin playing throughout. "Something's Gonna Change" from "Touch The Earth" recently took top honors for Reggae Song of the Year from Just Plain Folks, the worlds largest songwriter organization!
"Expecting a Miracle"
Buy New: $15.98
Press Release from
"Positive pop and globally conscious soul"
"…Derrik Jordan is something of a one-man musical force of nature" -Vermont Sunday Magazine
Living in southern Vermont and playing throughout the northeast, Derrik Jordan has sung national jingles, worked with many bands and has had his songs recorded by other artists, but what really excites him is writing, recording and performing his original music for people.
"Creating music is a sacred trust. That moment of ecstatic communion when performer and audience become one is truly one of life's greatest experiences," says Derrik.
"Touch The Earth" (2002) took over a year to record, with Derrik singing and playing 95% of it himself.
Other very special guests include Tom "T-Bone" Wolk (Hall and Oates, Carly Simon, Saturday Night Live Band) on bass and nylon string guitar, Nebulai on didgeridoo and the Mighty Simba Horns.
Conceived as a celebration of nature and a call to environmental action, "Touch The Earth" is a collection of 13 songs that share an environmental theme, recorded with full band arrangements in a variety of world music styles (reggae, afro-pop, samba, salsa and funk) and features Derrik's passionate 5-string electric violin playing throughout.
His song "Something's Gonna Change" from the CD won top honors as 2002 Reggae Song of the Year from Just Plain Folks, the world's largest songwriter organization.
As a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, environmental activist and teacher Derrik is used to wearing a lot of hats. On "Expecting A Miracle" (1997), co-produced with Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, he worked with a stellar cast of top NYC studio musicians.
His song "Something Beautiful," from that album received extensive national airplay at college radio and was included on "The World Will Remember," a CD benefiting the September 11th disaster victims of NYC.
In 1992, Derrik made his national debut as a recording artist on "Right As Rain," a CD supporting the Rainforest Action Network that also featured such artists as Jerry Garcia, Paul Winter, Mickey Hart and Beausoleil.
Derrik has studied congas with master drummer Milford Graves and has traveled to Brazil, Trinidad and Ghana, West Africa to further develop his craft.
He has produced jazz, folk, Native American and award-winning children's independent recordings. He performs with many bands including Tony Vacca's World Rhythms and The Jo Sallins Experience. "SuperString Theory" (2003), his first all instrumental CD, showcases his 5-string electric violin in duets with balafon, kora, didgeridoo, sitar and more.