Summer has arrived in Berlin with clear blue skies and tropical temperatures. The arrival of summer accompanies the arrival of a new edition in the series of spiritual albums that is Beyond. The Tina Turner Blog was in Berlin to report on the official presentation of the new CD.
Beyond? A short history lesson: Regula Curti – singer, business woman and friend of Tina Turner in Switzerland started her ‘Beyond Foundation’ seven years ago. The organization funding several projects promoting interreligious and intercultural tolerance really gained attention when the musical album ‘Beyond’ was released in the spring of 2009. On the album, Regula is joined by Tibetan singer Dechen Shak-Dagsay and; this is where it gets really interesting for us; her good friend Tina Turner. It marked Tina’s first real venture into the field of classical and religious music. Beyond part one went platinum and led to the follow-up CD ‘Children Beyond’ in 2011. And today, we’ve arrived at already the third installment of Beyond: ‘Love Within’.
On the album, to be released on June 6, Tina Turner, Regula Curti and Dechen Shak-Dagsay are joined by a new member of the Beyond family, Indian Hindu singer Sawani Shende-Sataye. To attract attention for the new album, a promotional blitz tour is currently underway through Germany and Switzerland. The Tina Turner Blog’s Ben and Sjef (and friends) caught up with ‘Beyond’ during two special events in Berlin.
So there you have it. And to answer the question that appears to be on everybody’s mind immediately: no, Tina Turner was not there. Possible reasons for Tina’s absence range from ‘prior obligations’ to wild rumors about her health. The real explanation however is given by the Beyond project’s mother, Regula Curti. That is that Miss Turner is now a rock star in retirement and that she enjoys life outside the limelight so much that she is more than happy to leave all promotional obligations to her three collaborators. Are we a bit disappointed that we do not get to see her? Yes! At the same time however, after a career of more than 50 years, her decision is more than understandable.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to what DID happen in Berlin. Because two interview sessions and two performances provided more than enough interesting insights into ‘Love Within’. The location of Tuesday evening’s event was rather unusual; the Apple store at Berlin’s most famous shopping mile Kurfürstendamm. Luckily, the three Beyond ladies weren’t surrounded by rich kids buying iPads and iPods; no, the performance took place at a special event room including a big stage and many cameras recording the whole thing for a podcast that should be available in the iTunes store sometime soon.
It was especially nice to see newcomer Sawani, who had arrived all the way from Puna, India only several hours prior. She is the only non-Swiss (yes, Tina is Swiss now) singer involved in the project and was contacted by Regula Curti specifically with the new album in mind. Regula Curti was, and still is, on a quest to have as much religious and cultural diversity in the project as possible. On the current CD, Hinduism is added as the third religion, along with Christianity (Regula), Tibetan Buddhism (Dechen) and Tina (a little of both). It is also Regula’s aspiration to have even more religions on possible next albums, especially representatives of Judaism and of Islam. It was proven right away that Sawani is indeed a great addition to the mix. Besides her outgoing and vibrant personality, she has a great voice and definitely contributes a lot to the sound of Love Within.
And then the title Love Within. At first, the album was supposed to be called ‘Mother Within‘, which is one of the tracks on the CD. Along with the song ‘Divine Mother’, it is clear that the theme of this album is indeed mothers and ‘the feminine’ in general. The symbol of the mother is present in all religions and on the album it stands for the unconditional love of a mother for her child, but also an internal and eternal love that every human being will find inside of her- or himself. But maybe the concept of the album is best explained by Tina, Beyond’s own eternal mother, on the opening track of the new CD: “The Mother is inside all of us – male or female. Unconditional love is so powerfully shown in the symbols of the Divine Mother of all faiths and cultures, religious and non-religious. She is the inspiration and embodiment of unconditional love.” We can only say, this is quite a spiritual progress coming from ‘what’s love got to do with it’!
The second event in Berlin took place the following morning in The Monkey Bar in the city’s brand new 25 Hours hotel. Ten floors up with a spectacular view of the area’s many monuments, it provided a beautiful and dramatic backdrop for a showcase that basically followed the same outline as the previous evening in the Apple store, with the added bonus of a brunch buffet and champagne. This time, the atmosphere was more intimate with plenty of time to chat with all of those involved in the Beyond project, singers, musicians and producers. What interesting tidbits did we find out? For example that Sawani wasn’t nervous at all when she first met Tina Turner, and that Tina managed to break the ice immediately by asking Sawani to teach her how to sing in Hindi. Or the fact that Tina praised Dechen for her beautiful soft voice, but at the same time encouraged her to make her vocals even more powerful by adding some rock to the mix. Dechen promised us that her next album will indeed feature her ‘wildest’ vocals so far. And although hopes were high among those in attendance for a possible Beyond concert tour, Regula stated that it would most likely never happen due to conflicting schedules and difficulties with taking the sound of Beyond out of the studio and onto a live concert stage.
Finally a few words on the music. We only got our promotional copies of Love Within today, so a more thorough analysis is still to follow. But what can we say based on what we’ve heard so far, both on CD and during the live performances? Sawani, as mentioned before, is truly a great addition to the sound of Beyond, bringing more diversity and depth to the whole. Love Within resembles more closely the first Beyond album rather than the second album ‘Children Beyond’ in the sense that the individual religions and singers are more closely woven together within a single track, rather than a separate song for each religion. It is even the question if we can really speak of songs since the tracks are real musical pieces that evolve and flow into each other like waves. Regarding Tina’s contributions: we can only applaud her move back to her Gospel roots with ‘Amazing Grace’ and the biggest surprise of the album ‘Motherless Child’; a track she already sang way back when in her Ike & Tina days. Her voice, although slightly changing, is as strong and chilling as ever. Hopes are that this trip down Gospel memory lane will inspire her for future recordings.
Regula, Dechen and Sawani performing ‘Divine Mother’ live in Berlin
As a goodbye gift, each guest was presented with a beautiful blooming flower. It was indeed the perfect present after two wonderful summer days and events. Tomorrow, there is one final presentation of the album on home turf at Lake Zurich. The Tina Turner Blog will be present and we will continue to bring you the latest news on ‘Beyond Love Within’ and all of Tina Turner’s future endeavors. For now, enjoy the music and listen deeply – when words fail, music speaks beyond, beyond, beyond.
‘Beyond Love Within’ will be released on June 6, 2014. Pre-order now via Amazon Germany, Amazon UK or worldwide in the iTunes store. The first single ‘Mother Within’ is available now in an edited version, featuring more of Tina’s vocals. Download now in the iTunes store.