Olivia Newton-John visited Singapore recently. Below is the second part of her conversation with Sister Wendy Ooi, fsp who also reviews her latest album.
GRACE AND GRATITUDE, Olivia's album of healing and inspirational music, is based on a variety of faith traditions and resonates with the church's advocacy on inter-faith prayer and dialogue for peace.
Interwoven between the songs in the album are instrumental interludes and chants which correspond to the Jewish Kabbalah or Tree of Life plus an Islamic prayer.
Olivia (right) believes in the power of music to heal the body, calm the mind, lift the spirit and above all, connect us to our hearts.
The songs correspond to the Hindu chakras (the seven energy centres of the body) which can be linked to seven universal sacred truths and the Sacraments of the Church. Each song explores the emotions that accompany different levels of relationships - with family or community, with self, and with God.
Olivia wrote most of the songs (with producer Amy Sky) as a healing process and she hopes others too will be helped to obtain spiritual balance, and physical and emotional healing through the album.
"I hope these songs will help you to take time out of your busy life for relaxation or meditation," Olivia states in the album sleeve. "I believe that all human beings are connected, like pearls on a chain. We have in common the search for peace, love and compassion. It is my hope that we can accept and respect each other's (faith) traditions, no matter what our personal beliefs. This is my intention - to make music that helps to heal the heart and connect us to each other. On my own journey, I have been helped most by an attitude of appreciation. Life, with all its ups and downs, is a gift of grace that I accept with gratitude."
The CD offers seamless, uninterrupted music for about an hour and is an ideal accompaniment to meditation, reflection and prayer (or even a relaxing massage). With Tibetan and Japanese shinobue flutes and Irish whistles among conventional stringed instruments to complement Olivia's exquisite voice, the tracks provide beautiful and relaxing music to calm one's spirit, heal one's emotions and ease one's physical weariness. Peace and tranquillity exude from the melodious album.
Having obtained inner peace from the music, the concluding track, based on a beloved prayer of St. Francis, inspires one to pray to be an Instrument of Peace.
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Guide to the tracks
Suggested biblical application to the songs with their corresponding Universal Spiritual Truth and Church Sacrament are shown below.
â€¢ Pearls On a Chain: All is One - Baptism - "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body." (1 Cor 10:17)
â€¢ To be Wanted: Honour One Another - Communion/Eucharist - "Love one another." (Jn 13:34)
â€¢ Learn to Love Yourself: Honour Oneself - Reconciliation - "Love your neighbour as yourself." (Mk 12:31)
â€¢ Grace and Gratitude: Honour Oneself - Reconciliation - "Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph 5:20)
â€¢ Love is Letting Go of Fear: Love is Divine Power - Matrimony - "Fear not, I am with you." (Is 43:5); "Courage. It is I. Do not be afraid." (Mt 14:27); "Do not be afraid, only have faith." (Mk 5:36)
â€¢ GatÃ© GatÃ©: Love is Divine Power - (a Buddhist chant to obtain enlightenment)
â€¢ Let Go Let God: Surrender Personal Will to Divine Will - Confession - "Let your will be done, not mine." (Lk 22:42)
â€¢ I will Lift Up My Eyes: Seek Only the Truth - Holy Orders - "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (Jn 8:32); "I am the Truth." (Jn 14:6)
â€¢ The Power of Now: Live in the Present Moment - Extreme Unction / Anointing of the Sick - "Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Mt 6:32)
â€¢ Instrument of Peace: It is based on the beloved prayer of St. Francis - "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." (Jn 14:27)
Grace and Gratitude will be promoted at the parishes of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Mary of the Angels on May 19-20. The CD is also available at the Apostolate of the Media bookshop at Church of the Risen Christ.
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Conversation with Olivia
Q: What do the title words of your album Grace and Gratitude mean to you?
Olivia: On Grace and Gratitude the chorus is "Thank you for life, thank you for everything. I stand here in grace and gratitude and I thank you â€¦" and that can be God, Buddha or Allah or part of the big power, whatever you want to call it. I think we are all trying to be accepted and get to the same place of love and acceptance. We need to respect each other's beliefs and not kill each other over them basically.
Q: How did you evolve from singing pop songs to more spiritual ones?
Olivia: I think it's just the evolution of life, getting older, and going through things and needing to find more meaning. And because I'm writing more of my music, it's coming through my music.
Q: Could you kindly leave a message of inspiration to our CatholicNews readers?
Olivia: I think everyone has to find that within themselves, something that touches them and makes them feel good. In Asia I find that you have beauty in simplicity - just one flower in the vase or one candle. I find beauty is a wonderful inspiration and just (the) gratitude that you have... that is a good way to start.
â€¢ Try and keep a positive attitude because it makes a big difference in your life to see the good in people and being accepting of others and try not to judge people too harshly because everyone is trying to do their best in their journey.
â€¢ All the obstacles I've been through have led me to this place of total gratitude, of being alive and healthy.
â€¢ Unfortunately you do not grow without some pain in your life.
â€¢ I say thank you all the time. If you're feeling down, look around and say thank you. The sense of gratitude makes you feel better about everything.
â€¢ I rarely go to the anger place because it doesn't prove or heal anything. Try to make the best of everything.
â€¢ Nature is the most beautiful thing we have. It's better than art because it's from the Creator.
Watch the video of Conversation with Olivia on CN website: www.catholic.org.sg/cn/video.