Some Notes About the "Rays Of Light" CD


     Where did these songs come from? Well, after working in the Nashville songwriting business for fourteen years, I took a sabbatical from 1998-2001. I'd grown tired of writing the "radio-friendly" commercial songs with their twisted cliches.

    During the winter months of 2001, I began to write again. I was only willing to take pen in hand to speak the truth from my heart. In the spring, I began to collaborate with recording artist/songwriter ("Angels Among Us") Becky Hobbs on a project based on the life of Nancy Ward, "Last Beloved Woman of the Cherokees". Becky is a descendent of this respected woman who lived in the latter half of the 18th century and into the next. They say that when she (born "Wild Rose") died, a light arose from her body, became a bird and flew out the door of the cabin. Anyway, Becky and I wrote a song or two and, when we put the project on the back burner for awhile, I couldn't stop writing. I am part Native Canadian and I continued to focus on First Nation themes. "Storyteller" was written at this time. It soon gained recognition nationally as a poem.

    Then, in late August, I attended a workshop in Rhinebeck, New York, with don Miguel Ruiz, author of the best-selling book, "The Four Agreements." Dawn and I had been working at The Ranch in the treatment of addictions. Don Miguel was accompanied by doña Rita Rivera and doña Sheri Rosenthal. I came expecting nothing and left with everything. I had been taking things personally, assuming the role of victim and living in a state of constant reaction. I was creating my own suffering. I was a victim of myself. I learned that I alone am responsible for whether I am happy or not, that I can shine as brightly as I choose. For too long I had allowed resentments to cloud my vision. I made the decision to let them go. I buried the old story and began a new one. I chose to again look at the world with the eyes I was born with.

    Back in Tennessee, the process continued. Inspiration was everywhere I looked, both outside and within. As I wrote, red-tailed hawks circled and hummingbirds were ever present. Great-horned owls crossed my path at night, reminding me of transformation. At times, I did not know where the lyrics came from. All I could do was feel humbled and thank the Creator for letting me hold the pen. My friend, Roberto Paez, suggested that perhaps my purpose here is to be a messenger. Long ago, when I was eighteen, I had considered the idea but, however hopeful and altruistic I was in those younger days, I had no message. And so that dream slept for a long, long time. These songs represent an awakening. They are about healing and loving and dying and living in the moment with faith and gratitude. They are not written for accolades. They say what they say, they are what they are. You may like them or dislike them. You are welcome to feel whatever you wish. I simply take my joy in delivering them.

I wish you love, peace and light,
          - James



Liner Notes

Special thanks to Bill Evarts for hearing in my music what I could no longer hear myself; to John Carter Cash for coaxing me back into the studio; to Becky Hobbs, descendent of Nancy Ward, last beloved woman of the Cherokees, for igniting my imagination; to Duane Sciacqua for the sound advice; to the noteworthy musicians for being in tune with my intent; to Jim Rosen for teaching me to paint the light; to don Miguel Ruiz, author of the "Four Agreements", for awakening a sleeping heart; to all the mirroring mentors who share the dream and remind me to live in the moment; I also send my love and gratitude to Dawn, my beloved, for playing angel's advocate during the production of this project. And, last but not least, I wish to thank my Creator for the breath of inspiration. If you whisper it, I will write it. -James



The Players

1. "Don't Take It Personally"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocals, acoustic guitar
Dawn Zurlinden: vocal
Duane Sciacqua: acoustic lead guitar
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Kevin Ball: djembe

2. "Storyteller"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocals, acoustic guitar
Dawn Zurlinden: vocal
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Rich Adams: djembe, shaker

3. "Sacred Hoop"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocals, acoustic guitar, Native American flute
Duane Sciacqua: electric guitar
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Rich Adams: sharkskin dumbek, rainstick and other percussion
Dawn Zurlinden: djembe, shaker

4. "I Am An Artist"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocal, acoustic guitar
Dawn Zurlinden: synthetic string arrangement, finger cymbal
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Rich Adams: djembe, cymbal

5. "Love or Fear"
(Words & Music by James Nihan and Dawn Zurlinden)
James: vocal, acoustic guitars
Dawn Zurlinden: vocal,
Gary Tussing: cello
Duane Sciacqua: bass
Rich Adams: djembe, cymbals, windchimes

6. "Flying"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocal, acoustic guitar
Dawn Zurlinden: vocal
Larry Stephenson: mandolin
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Kevin Ball: djembe

7. "I Am"
(Words & Music by James Nihan and Dawn Zurlinden)
James: vocal, acoustic guitars, Native American flute
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Kevin Ball: djembe

8. "The Angel of Death"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocal, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Duane Sciacqua: acoustic lead guitar
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Kevin Ball: djembe

9. "A Ray of Light"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocal, acoustic guitars
Dawn Zurlinden: steel drum
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Kevin Ball: djembe

10. "Sister Mitote"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocal, acoustic guitars
Gary Tussing: cello
Rich Adams: percussion
Dawn Zurlinden: tambourine

11. "don Miguel"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocals, acoustic guitar
Duane Sciacqua: electric guitar
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Gantt Kees: drums, tambourine, shaker

12. "Golden Eagle"
(Words & Music by James Nihan)
James: vocal, acoustic guitar, harmonica, Native American flute
Brian Hinchliffe: bass
Kevin Ball: djembe
Red-tail Hawk: eagle
The Wind: itself








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