New Video, Inspite of You by Melanie Ida Chopko

Here's present for you as you do your own New Years rituals, not just as an individual but as a citizen too.

I started writing In Spite of You after the 2017 inauguration of DJT. I just needed something to sing to myself after listening to the news, and often still do.

That year I was profoundly moved by an interview I saw with one of the founders of Otpor!, an activist group that used theater and the arts to cultivate a social movement in Serbia. Within just two years, the movement overthrew dictator Slobodan Milošević and held a democratic election.

Reflecting on why they won, I just loved what Srdja Popović said: "Their hatred, their propaganda, their language, smelled like death. And we won because we loved life more. We decided to love life, and you cannot beat life."

The title is inspired by Apesar de Você, from Brasilian artist/activist Chico Buarque. Despite being written about military dictatorship (noticing a theme here?) the song is infused with joy, power, and conviction.

Singing out to the forces within us and around us that are immutable, invincible.

Tiny but mighty choir!  Jesse Sachs, Jason Leith, Kele Nitoto, Briget Boyle & Mandy Paige Bayless.

Tiny but mighty choir! Jesse Sachs, Jason Leith, Kele Nitoto, Briget Boyle & Mandy Paige Bayless.

Humongous thanks my beloved vocalists friends who came along for the ride for my first choral arrangement: Briget Boyle, Jesse Sachs, Jason Leith, Kele Nitoto, & Mandy Paige Bayless.

And a deep bow of gratitude to all the people who contributed to the emergence of this recording at different parts along the way: Rachel Efron, Moorea Dickason, David Sturdevant, Kyle Lemle, Paris Cole, Briget & Mandy again.

new music video: below the weather & the waves by Melanie Ida Chopko

below the weather & the waves

I'm proud to share this new video, made for the NPR Tiny Desk Contest (hence the desk marooned on the beach) It's a dialogue between myself and the ocean, the centered around a Zen-ish teaching: "During difficulty, see the place that has no difficulty." I find this teaching so profound, for both my inner life and how I engage with making a more just and beautiful world. When I orient toward the "quiet constant truth," something different is possible.

(My favorite part is how the sun sets over the course of the take, the light changing from warm to cool. If you like it, please share it with your meditation friends, and leave a comment to let me know what you think!)

Special thanks to Jason Simmons, Manon Rudant and Juan-Carlos Foust and so many others for making this one with me. I'm also in the midst of making a full band arrangement of the song, gorgeous in piano, arco bass and guitar. It's just plain beautiful.