'Blue Pearl: The Life of a Song' by Steve Banks
The song, 'Blue Pearl', was born at Cae Mabon in 2003, during a workshop Eric ran with Peter Harper, of the Centre for Alternative Technology, called 'Create and Sustain'. It was about communicating sustainability through the arts. I first went to Cae Mabon in 1996, to the Men’s Rites of Passage. It was a profound, life-changing experience, such as many lucky people have had at Cae Mabon. I returned many times after that; it felt like my spiritual home.
At the workshop in 2003, Eric and I both wrote songs. Eric wrote ‘Footprint’ about the ecological mark we make on the Earth. I wrote ‘Blue Pearl’. It seemed to flow out effortlessly. In the song, the earth is speaking to us humans, saying “You and I are one”. It struck me later that the riff in Blue Pearl was the like the one in Bob Dylan’s song, ‘Lonesome Day Blues’, but with the two halves swapped around. I liked the notion that Blue Pearl was a musical relative of a Dylan song!
So Blue Pearl was born. Not long after, I sang it to a couple of friends in their garden in Shropshire. Tears came to their eyes in the middle eight, where the lyric evokes the sadness of knowing that we’re going to die, and be parted from our loved ones. There are gaps in that section, and we could hear the birds singing all around; a beautiful inter-weaving of human and bird song.
Blue Pearl travelled around the UK when Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band performed it on our 2005 Christmas tour. For these concerts I added a spoken introduction: an exquisite piece of prose by Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who had an ‘awakening’ experience of the unity of the Cosmos on the way back to earth. I have sung Blue Pearl many times in the Carnival Band’s programme, ‘Around The World In 80 Songs’. I loved those concerts: a magical journey through beautiful music from cultures all across the globe, with Blue Pearl at the end, bringing it all together, the earth seen as a whole.
Now, aged 18, Blue Pearl has moved into an exciting new phase of its life. It is the central song in a major new choral work I have written, ‘Blue Pearl: A One World Oratorio’. The unity (in diversity) of the earth, and of humanity, are central themes. It is music for our times, when humanity needs to act ‘in concert’ as never before. The oratorio portrays the whole of evolution, and it attempts to convey a *human* spirituality, accessible to someone from any spiritual tradition, or none. It ends with another song I wrote at Cae Mabon: ‘The Potter’ – a sort of joyful prayer that we may each lead a rich and meaningful life, and give something back to the world.
You can listen to a demo recording of Blue Pearl here.
The world premiere of the Blue Pearl oratorio is going to be on 14th May 2022 at St Giles’ Cripplegate, London and streamed live. I really hope that Blue Pearl lives on many years after I’m gone, inspiring people with a recognition that they too ARE the earth, self-aware, singing, dancing, loving, evolving.
It all started at Cae Mabon, 18 years ago, where I drank deep from that well of beauty, soul and inspiration. Like so many, I can’t imagine my life without the incredible treasures I have found in that magical, mysterious, marvellous opening in the wild wood. Thank you, Eric!
If you would like to help Blue Pearl to take off in this new exciting new phase of its life, there are a few ways you can breathe wind into its sails:
come to the world premiere on 14th May 2022, in London or the live stream. And bring all the friends and family you can muster! it’s going to be an extraordinary concert which will touch your heart and lead you into the beauty and wonder of your spiritual depths.
subscribe here for updates about Blue Pearl.
support the crowdfunding campaign in February ‘22.
connect with me on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter – “Steve Banks composer” should find me)
Here is the Cedar Cabin where both 'Blue Pearl' and 'Footprint' were written, just a year after it was built!