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In 2010, I spent almost a month in Sao Paulo collaborating with friends and musicians of the band Poesia Samba Soul (PSS). Their neighborhood, a favela, two hours outside the center of the city, was named "the most dangerous neighborhood in the world" by the U.N. in 1996 due to drug-related violence. Since that time, a wave of grassroots cultural initiatives had helped to turn things around. Claudio Miranda, the force behind PSS, had been a huge part of turning the tide in his neighborhood by teaching them skills and giving them an outlet. PSS engages youth in music & video performance, recording and production.

The musicians, students and their families displayed generosity, passion, warmth and engagement in ways I've not experienced before. The experience affirmed my belief that visual and performing arts are powerful and vital tools for promoting change; transcending personal, cultural, economic and physical boundaries. The arts heal and unite individuals and communities.

In the favela, hummingbirds find floral nectar in the (seemingly) endless hills of concrete, embodying this notion of transcendence. They're called "beija flor"; flower kissers.

I returned home inspired to create The Transcendence Project with co-founder Deb Bicknell. In 2013, we facilitated and produced a performance in partnership with the Maine non-profi, Seeds Of Peace that would be the culmination of their educators course. Through this powerful and heartfelt process and performance, we are reminded of music's ability to heal and unite us. It is a deep and profound honor to be part of this hopeful on-going project.


Oh Beija Flor
You transcend
And no one can take the levity which you defend
So few believed that you'd ever fly
Now no one can take the gravity that you defy.

Where houses stack like dominoes
And alleys know the secrets that no one else knows
And thick in the air, competing with the sun
Hangs a cloud of despair

The city swells
And swallows you whole
But you won't be eaten alive
It's not your time to go.

Just like a kite,
You transcend.
When the wind gusts
You sway and bend
The harder it blows
The higher you go
Just like a kite,
You transcend.

Taking matters in your own hands
Standing in the face of so many fears
People can't be done
Undoing what's been done through all of these years

What you perceive
Will be revealed
When you follow the path inside
That only you feel

Oh Beija Flor
Que trancener
Ningunim robar a leveza que defender
Deserram que no podia robar
Ningunim desfiar a gravidade que e tomar

Oh Beija flor
Que trancender
Com temporal envergar e voce balencar
Quado mais sopra no alto flutuar
Como uma pipa no ar
Como uma pipa no ar…


from We Make the Road By Walking, released November 26, 2015
Written by Emilia Dahlin
Voice and guitar - Emilia Dahlin
Mastered: Alain Paul




We Make the Road By Walking Portland, Maine

All songs are available as "donation only." All proceeds go to directly supporting the Seeds of Peace Educators Program for the Expressive Arts.

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