* Your musical inspirations?

There are many and they are always expanding. I think essentially it's
about who sounds truthful and has depth. I grew up listening to Peter
Gabriel and Kate Bush. They are both so intelligent and imaginative.
Sinead O'Conners' The Lion and The Cobra record was big for me. It had an exciting raw quality that's different from her later records. And the vocals were so distinctive. U2's the Joshua Tree and Actung, Baby. I love the epic, expansive quality of their music. Jane's Addiction and Led Zeppelin and Gun's and Roses Appetite for Destruction record. It sounds so raw and "take no prisoners". I like anything with interesting song structure, lyrics and textures. My dad is an organist and choir director, so I heard a lot of religous choral and classical music. I didn't hear any rock and roll at all until I was in the second grade, but then i got really into it, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac., the Doors and Led Zeppelin. Now I am really into Songs:Ohia, Elliott Smith, Iron and Wine, sparse, intimate music with great lyrics. Jeff Buckley is a real hero of mine. I really recognize his music and understand what he was doing. He and Peter Gabriel are my favorite voices. There are a lot of inspirational local
musicians...too many to name.

* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

The act of listening to or writing music connects you to your inner self
as well as to other people. When you hear a song that expresses how you feel, you know you're not alone. And if you're writing and singing from a place of truth, music is the soul made manifest. What is inside is given a voice. Happiness is celebrated and a traumatic event can be transformed into something beautiful. It's not that music erases the experience of pain, but rather it documents and expresses it, and that can be helpful.

With a voice that combines the intimacy of Songs:Ohia with ethereal intensity similar to Sigor Ros or Jeff Buckley, Odessa Chen's music has been described as delicate, wintry, intelligent, haunting and comforting. Her debut album, One Room Palace, explores themes of love, longing, beauty and death with accomplished lyrics, a fingerpicking guitar style that is almost classical, and arrangements both sparse and complex. Cello, bass, keyboards, and drums are performed both by Odessa and members of Tom Wait's band, Nels Cline Singers, Thee More Shallows, and Winfred E. Eye. She currently plays with Rich Douthit (of The Drift, Jargon, Boxcar Saints) on drums and Devin Hoff (of Nels Cline Singers and Good for Cows) on double bass. She sings on forthcoming records from Charles Atlas and Thee More Shallows. Cd's are available at odessachen.com

Odessa Chen store


photo by Deirdre McCarthy

Your musical inspirations?

Our musical inspirations include Loreena McKennitt, The Grateful Dead, Steeleye Span, Gong, Malicorne, Pink Floyd, Clannad, Medieval music, and Irish, Scottish, and French traditional music.

We believe in the healing power of music and actively seek to heal and inspire our audiences in a positive way.

Margaret Davis - vocals, Celtic harp, flute, recorder in Avalon Rising

Margaret grew up in Illinois, where she was classically trained as a singer, flutist, and recorder player and received her degree in Music from Knox College. She performed for six years as lead vocalist and harper with the Medieval band Gai Saber and appeared as vocal soloist with the Renaissance music ensemble The Brass Menagerie. A life-long interest in the music of her Scots Celtic ancestry led to her work with the Celtic bands Belltaine, Magic Fire, and Four Shillings Short, with whom she recorded several albums, including Gifts of Joy, Magic Fire, and Now. She has lent her vocal and instrumental talents to over a dozen recordings in all. Margaret leads acoustic Celtic/Renaissance band Broceliande and co-runs Flowinglass Music in addition to her work with Avalon Rising.
Based in Oakland, CA, Celtic rock band Avalon Rising is known for its unique sound -- a blend of original rock, Celtic, and Medieval music. Their rich melodic acoustic/electric sound features brilliant male and female vocals over intricate instrumental arrangements, supported by a vibrant Middle Eastern and Celtic-flavored rhythmic background. Their line-up includes: electric and acoustic guitars, electric violin, Celtic harp, flute, bass, mandocello, drums, and vocals.

With a repertoire that includes both original and traditional songs and ranges in feel from driving, danceable primal beats to haunting, atmospherically lovely harp-based ballads, Avalon Rising will enchant and excite you. Their lyrics, including some in Medieval French and Portuguese, speak of love and longing, quests and revels, magic and transformation, in a magical, evocative style in the same vein as Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, and Renaissance with touches of Jethro Tull and the Grateful Dead.

Avalon Rising has been performing in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest for ten years at clubs, pubs, benefits, and conventions, and has shared the bill on several occasions with Magna Carta recording artists Tempest. Festival performances include the Squaw Valley Celtic Festival, the High Sierra Music Festival, the Mammoth Lakes Celtic Festival, and the Avery Ranch Folk Festival. Their first, self-titled CD is distributed internationally by Goldenrod, Serpentine Music, and Abyss Distribution, and has received many favorable reviews.

"Wets the mind like Irish mist...Clear and bright, up-front and passionate...
The musical teamwork is superb."
John Wheeler, Harpbeat


To me, music is one of the most important things in the world. It has featured in my life since I was a small child and I cannot imagine a world without it. Indeed, I'm rather suspicious of people I meet who have no interest in music - call me shallow, but I really cannot relate to such people, I'm afraid.

I listen to music all the time, and over the years I have shaped my listening so that I always listen to relatively minimal Classical/instrumental music while I work; I have music for driving to (usually my own!), music to exercise to and music to relax to. There are other musics I listen to that stimulate me intellectually  - certain Progressive Rock music from the 1970s does this, more modern songs by groups like Radiohead and Talking Heads work for me in this way too. I also love to listen to music that allows me to deliberately sink into the past. Music to me is what odours were to Proust. Music instantly transports me to certain places and times, and because music has been an integral part of my life, it is intimately linked with events, feelings and thoughts from the past.

Finally, music is a way for me to counter the pressures of my work as an author. When I feel unable to communicate with words, or if I become bogged down with something I'm working on I pick up a guitar or I programme a drum sequence on the computer and start composing. Very few people ever get to hear my music nowadays, but it really doesn't matter - the sheer act of composition and listening to the finished product helps me enormously

.Michael White is a writer based in Perth, Australia. He has been a science editor of British GQ, a columnist for the Sunday Express in London and, in a previous incarnation, he was a member of the Thompson Twins (1982).

Between 1984 and 1991 he was a science lecturer at d'Overbroeck's College in Oxford before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of more than twenty books: These include the international best-seller, Stephen Hawking - A Life In Science which has been translated into 15 languages; Einstein - A Life in Science and Darwin - A Life In Science (with John Gribbin).

Early solo efforts included a collection of biographies for teenagers - Newton, Galileo, Lennon and Mozart and a biography of Isaac Asimov, Asimov - The Unauthorized Life (1994).

Since then he has written the international best-seller The Science of the X-Files (1996) and an alternative biography of Isaac Newton, Isaac Newton - The Last Sorcerer. In this, Michael White considered Newton's obsession with magic and alchemy. The book was nominated by four British newspapers as 'Biography of the Year' in 1997 and was awarded 'Book of the Year' in the science category by Bookman Associates in the U.S, an honour he shared with Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees.

He followed this with Life Out There - a detailed look at the question of extraterrestrial life and Super Science, a continuation of the theme begun with The Science of the X-Files. Super Science and The Science of the X-Files were published in the U.S as a single volume, Weird Science in 1999.

In 1997/8 Michael White was Series Consultant for the Discovery Channel series The Science of the Impossible, televised globally. He is a regular guest on radio and TV and has appeared on Radio 4's Start The Week and the Today Programme. In the U.S, he has been a guest on All Things Considered. In 2001 he presented a National Geographic programme about Leonardo da Vinci broadcast globally in 2002.

Michael White's most recent books include: a biography of Leonardo da Vinci, Leonardo - The First Scientist, which in Britain became the 4th best-selling science book of 2000 and has now sold some 60,000 copies in the UK. It has been translated into 18 languages. The other is an account of the 1980s and his time in the music industry, entitled: Thompson Twin - An '80s Memoir, published in May 2000.

At the end of 2001 Michael White's Tolkien - A Biography was published to tie-in with the global release of the first instalment of the movie, The Lord of the Rings. This book is now being translated into a dozen languages. 2002 saw the publication of The Pope and the Heretic a book about the trial and execution of Giordano Bruno, the first martyr to science.

In May 2002 Michael White's Rivals, a book about scientific rivalry from Newton to Gates was short-listed for the prestigious Aventis Prize ('the Booker Prize of Science').

 Michael has just finished a science fiction/fact book called A History of the 21st Century (co-written with the esteemed American science fiction writer Gentry Lee). This is to be adapted for TV by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks. Michael's Stephen Hawking : A Life in Science (co-authored with John Gribbin) was published in a new edition in 2004 in the US, UK and Australia. At the end of 2004 two new books will appear. C.S Lewis: Creator of Narnia and Machiavelli: A Man Misunderstood, both published by Little Brown in Britain and Penguin in Australia.

He has recently returned to music and has a studio where he writes and produces a CD of original music each year for friends and he is also beginning to undertake commissions as a portrait photographer.

His favourite review comes from Publishing News and declared: "Michael White should have written A Brief History of Time."

After securing a 'Distinguished Talent' visa, on January 1st 2002 Michael moved to Perth, Australia with his wife, Lisa and their four children India, George, Noah and Finn. Michael White has recently been made an Honorary Fellow of Curtin University of Technology, Perth. They live in Cottesloe and may be reached via the contact page (on Michaelís website).


* Your musical inspirations?

My musical inspirations have been very diverse. My Mother is from Germany and is a huge fan of Classical music, so we grew up listening to a lot of Mozart which I love. My parents believed in taking my brother and I to concerts and plays even when we were very young. At the age of 4 they took me to an Early Music group in Dublin called "The Consort of St. Sepulchre". They were a bunch of students who researched early music in Trinity College and put on fabulous concerts in costume with dancers. I was absolutely captivated by it and still love Early Music to this day. When I was 5, we were taken to the first ever professional staging of "Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat". It was staged in a stud farm with horses, sheep, camels and 70's rock musicians. It blew my young mind! These performances were really multi-sensory and are why I love to incorporate dancing, costume and many different musical styles in my shows.

Other musical influences have been groups that I have been in like Anuna and Riverdance. They both took musical styles that had become stale or forgotten and vamped them up and blew the dust off them and presented them fresh for a new generation.

Some of my favorite artists who have all influenced me are Queen, Bowie, Prince, Led Zeppelin (my favorite band at the moment), Andy Irvine & Paul Brady, Altan, Jeff Buckley (what a set of pipes!), Joni Mitchell, various Cuban artists, the Pogues, the Stranglers, the Sex Pistols and the composers Dowland and Purcell.

Meet Katie McMahon

Katie McMahon is probably best known for her exquisite soaring soprano solo in the original Riverdance single, which topped the charts in Ireland for three months. Her voice was described by the Irish Times as "poetry, perfection and purity". Before her work in Riverdance Katie, a born and bred Dubliner, was classically trained in voice and harp and studied Italian and Drama Studies in Trinity College. During a break from her studies, Katie joined the vocal group Anuna and is a featured soloist on their first two CDs.

Bill Whelan (Riverdance composer) heard her perform with Anuna and asked her to sing the solo in the interval piece at the Eurovision. This of course went on to become the hugely successful show Riverdance and Katie toured the world with them for five years as their lead vocalist. While touring in America, she met her husband Ben Craig and has made her home in Minnesota for the past three years.

During this time she has formed her own band and troupe of Irish dancers. They are in great demand all over the States and play Irish traditional music with a Classical edge. Two of the many celebrities who have enjoyed Katie's performances are President Clinton and Bono (U2), who pulled her aside afterwards and kindly told her that she had "an amazing voice". She has released two critically acclaimed solo CDs "After the Morning" and "Shine" which are available in the States and from her site (just click on Music).

In 2003, Katie toured throughout the States with her band and dancers.She also joined the acclaimed group Secret Garden for their tour of Asia & Europe in the summer and fall. In November 2003 Katie was awarded best folk and acoustic artist by the Minnesota Music Academy. Katie's newest CD, Celtic Christmas, is available exclusively at Borders Books and Music stores, or you can purchase a signed copy from her site.


* How has music inspired you?

I'm a vocalist and very interested in the many different ways people use their voices around the world. Wonderful singers and singing styles have always inspired me - from the way african singers use their stomachs to push out sounds to the complex and finely tuned use of tongues and mouths in Indian singing.

* Your musical inspirations?

Hmmmm, I'm very varied in my tastes. I am inspired by singers like Marta Sebesteyn. I love the music of Jethro Tull and the Doors. I love Spanish music also, and celtic music, and old 60s cocktail music, and...... gosh, lots of music.

* Any CDs or songs which are meaningful to you?
* Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

George Harrison's "All things must pass" is a very emotional and therapeutic album in lots of ways. This album helped me through a lonely time when I was younger. I also find great meaning in 'Rumba Argelina', the first CD by Radio Tarifa. They are a spanish band whose music is partially moroccan in flavour - there is some beautiful music on this CD.


Next Page

©Voices and Visions