Reviewer: Lee Boyack – Member, Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
A surprisingly funny and honest book about writing spiritual music—WITH an upbeat CD of the songs behind the stories!
I was not familiar with Rickie Byars Beckwith, the Music and Arts Director of Agape Int’l Spiritual Center and the wife of Michael Beckwith. But the excitement generated by the announcement of her December 2nd, 2011 concert in Santa Rosa, moved me to buy her new book that comes with a CD of her music. Wow! I was not misled by the congregation’s anticipation of her appearance. I feel I have been given a gift of peace and joy at a moment when it was greatly needed.
The CD has 14 songs that have the kind of lyrics that move me into a calmer, more peaceful and joyful space. But, unlike some of the “spiritual” music CD’s I’ve bought before—I like ALL of the songs on this CD and would listen to them even if they didn’t have a spiritual message. To me, the music is a mix of R&B, Motown, and Jazz. Sometimes Rickie’s voice reminds me of Tina Turner. Sometimes the sound seems like Carlos Santana. There is a lot of variation in tone and beat which keeps me continuing to listen.
The book describes the stories behind the creation of each of the songs. I love the surprising honesty of Rickie’s communication. For example, the title song, “Let My Soul Surrender” was created at a meditation retreat Rickie considered a semi-annual “ordeal.” “Sitting in silent meditation for three days…has never been
my idea of a good time,” she says. (I love this woman! That’s just how I would have felt.). But from that place, she opened herself up and received a song that begins “What am I to do? What am I to feel?”… and continues to discover that the answers lie in surrendering to God.
Another song was created by being hurried and running into a glass window! Another was created from being frustrated that it didn’t seem her prayers were being answered when three close friends passed away. The situations in her life are easy to understand. She doesn’t seem distant or removed. And the music is very entertaining.
I think this is a great book/CD and recommend it. I have already purchased it as a gift for several friends and will probably purchase more for Christmas gifts.