Music is an essential part of our ministry at The Sonoran Desert Center for Spiritual Living. Music is more than Sunday sing-alongs!
Our Music Ministry programs support your connection to Spirit through many creative outlets. Our Sonoran Desert Players and Desert Players Choir sing uplifting special music, write and perform skits for our annual Pledge Campaign and Volunteers’ Dinners, and even put on our brand of “pageants” for the holidays. Our SDCSL House Band gather for monthly special music and host Joyful Noise Open Mic Night, where members of the community can share and engage in creative expression of all kinds. Everyone is welcome to join our creative programs! No audition necessary. Please use our Contact Page to get in touch with our Music Director.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we could no longer host in-person events. This presented us with a tremendous opportunity. We joined Facebook to create “WEDS! NITE! LIVE!”, our weekly live concert hosted by Music Director Heather O’Day, and now features special guests like members of the music team, our open mic participants, and podcast-style interviews with New Thought musicians from all over the US and Canada.
There is a great African proverb that guides Heather’s simple philosophy about being a musician: “If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.” Heather encourages people from all walks of life to express themselves through music, rhythm, movement, poetry, and magic. She was raised in a Catholic choir loft but has found her true spiritual home with the teachings of Ernest Holmes and Science of Mind. Since joining the family at SDCSL, Heather has written and self-produced 2 studio albums of original New Thought music and spiritual chants, and has plans to launch the 3rd installment at the end of 2020. Heather O’Day has 30 years of experience and training, and holds a B.M. in Opera Performance from the University of Arizona.
SDCSL House Band Drummer
Drummer and sound engineer Stephen Anthony has over 40 years’ experience playing in traditional faith churches, but he has found a new way of thinking and a new way of life in New Thought. He is the founder of SonLight Studio in northern CA, and relocated to Tucson, AZ in 2002. He has performed, recorded and produced a wide variety of music styles throughout the state of AZ in various bands, most recently, Mass Transit (yacht rock, Motown and soft rock). His drum rudiments program, “Practice to Groove,” was endorsed by Ed Shaughnessy, drummer of The Tonight Show Band (Johnny Carson). He is a proud veteran of the US Air Force. SDCSL Music Team is delighted to have Stephen not only as a lyrical, expressive drummer but also as a helping hand with live and recorded sound at the Sanctuary.
Jennifer Tripp Griswold
SDCSL House Band Pianist, Vocalist
Jenny Jeanne , musician, teacher, writer, originally from Los Angeles, California where she attended Santa Monica City College and studied musical theatre, voice and piano.
Performing and cowriting songs for original bands in Hollywood she soon discovered her desire to teach music to young children and moved to San Luis Obispo where she started the Suzuki Piano School. There, in SLO town she was keyboardist for many classic rock bands and later the leader of a jazz quartet, the Avila Jazz Ensemble.
Moving to Arizona in 2016, she started working for music schools and is currently with the Montessori School in Tucson where she works with children in art and music.
Jennifer Griswold rounds out the SDCSL House Band as an exceptional jazz pianist. She has lent her songwriting skills and vocal abilities to create original music for celebration services, chants, and for Joyful Noise Open Mic.
Vicky is singer of stories who found her voice at the campfires of the Michigan Trail Riders. She was a protégé of the late Eric Hansen, studying voice and guitar. She performs solo and with her partner Ric Volante at venues throughout southern Arizona.
We are delighted to include Vicky in our music team at SDCSL, as an accomplished singer, songwriter, guitarist and banjo player!
Paying tribute to: Eric Hansen (1956-2017)
SDCSL Music Director through 2016
We thank Eric for his love, light, guidance and energy to plant the seeds of what the Music Ministry has become today. Namaste and farewell.
Eric’s songs won multiple awards between 1995 and 2007, were featured in major motion pictures and children’s educational websites, and became well-known in New Thought churches throughout the US. He recorded six CDs on his own label, Half Moon Full Star Records and he published songs from his family CD in The Nobody Knows Songbook. His music has been featured at spiritual retreats such as Asilomar, The Big Sky Retreat and ANTN.
Eric Hansen was born in Indiana and raised in Chicago. He studied voice, classical guitar and theater at Chicago Musical College, after which he joined Free Street Theater, a traveling performing arts outreach program. He was also a veteran performer in New York City including musicals, theater, soap operas, and finally as a singer/songwriter. Eric worked as a visiting musician for Hospital Audiences Inc. and soon made it to the top of HAI’s roster as a most-requested performer.
In spite of his success as a solo artist, Eric found he was performing sick all the time. In June 1997, he was diagnosed with Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which destroys lung function. After a double lung transplant in 2013, his next “gig” would reveal another side of his talent, nurtured by the children of New York’s Hudson Guild. In 1999, after a bout with pneumonia, he decided to move to Arizona in search of better air quality, but not before recording “I Am I” with the Hudson Guild children for his CD, Real Slow. The title song reflects a turning point in his life. “I was thinking about death because I was feeling so bad. I had gone through such sickness and pain. I remember the moment that I read the article about the Indian Ocean, (to which he refers in the lyrics), and that’s the moment that I chose to fight. I stood up and said, “I want to swim in the Indian Ocean.” In twelve years, he successfully brought his music to New Thought churches around the country.
Eric taught voice and coached singers. “I’ve always had this fantasy of someday being a famous teacher that works with folk singers.” He had a vision of himself in his later years: long, flowing gray hair, flip flops and tank top. Maybe sporting a goatee… “And people would come from all over to Tucson to study with me.”
Article courtesy of FolkWorks.org