The Naked Voice
an interview with Chloe Goodchild
by Dan Liss
is a Naked Voice, Chloe?
"I don't say I'm a singer. I say I love to sing. I'm someone in service to this greater force of healing. The singer's job is to embody this presence. Then you have the Naked Voice."
Chloe Goodchild, a remarkable singer who lives in England, developed a technique for teaching singing called the Naked Voice. (This year's schedule includes classes in Oregon, California and New York.) Her technique is about helping people to lose their self-consciousness and let their spirit emerge from a place of pure joy and abandonment. Through chanting and multipart harmonies, people let go until they find themselves arriving at a moment of silence that always seems to follow after the body and the lungs are well exercised and they can rest in the aftermath of each song with satisfaction.
Until she discovered this way of singing, she was haunted by a sense of separation between music that comes from the head and music that comes from pure feeling. She describes her task, both with herself and others, as "helping each person listen to themselves without the obstructions of the judging mind or the paralyzing effects of self-consciousness." She describes the natural voice as a sound-seer which always knows the perfect way for each soul to respond and explore. She notes that "with practice the singer learns to abandon herself totally to a presence within the sound which dissolves and transforms the original emotion. The vocal energy is then experienced as an all-pervading sensation which surrounds the whole body.
"The naked voice is the presence within the sound. An otherness arrests the listener, and this otherness takes the listener beyond the linear to the sound of the eternal, the unchanging.
"The nature of the soul is where the voice sings from. Singing is a metaphor for living if you're in love with your life. Something magical happens when we move from speaking to singing: gratitude, compassion, harmony, letting go of negative thoughts. We're made up of cellular vibrations. The science of sound is marrying with spiritual understanding to bring us into the present moment. My purpose is to help people forget they are of this world.
"Musical vibrations shape our bodies. Look at your own body. Notice strengths and weaknesses. It has shaped itself according to who you think you are. I have experimented with an acupressurist, working with mixing healing modalities. The client was doing the singing while the acupressurist was working the pressure points. The soul has its own wisdom, and knows where the healing sound is needed.
"We are pure vibration, so to use vibration to align inevitably leads to healing. I had one student who had cancer who worked with her voice, learning through singing that she is not her body. She released her attachment to the physical, and she left smiling. When we release fear and suffering in ourselves, we release it in the world."
In her book, The Naked Voice (which unfortunately is out of print) she describes another student who had long suffered from depression. When this woman experienced the feeling of her voice, it was the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious, and from the day she began to open up her voice and sing, she became more possessed of clarity, confidence and strength and her depression lifted. A third student felt blocked from singing in the upper registers. Chloe suggested to the student that she look up at a light on the ceiling and imagine that there was a presence beckoning her beyond herself. Suddenly she sang through her boundaries, releasing all those previously unreachable notes.
"Witnessing is a skill we have to learn. Notice how people move, what sounds they make. Sound is a way of seeing: nonjudgmental, unattached, compassionate, accepting. It's a bridge, listening, seeing between soul and spirit. Spirit doesn't care if a person is here or not. Soul does. We fulfill our purpose by listening. This doesn't affect creativity, but it enables cultivating power, as we become a receiving place when singing comes through the body. Singing catapults a person into the heart. Once that is open you have to face your own self. Once you look, you have to choose. It may not be changing a job, but it does mean relating to people differently. Going beyond my style at all, that's when spirit is present.
The heart sutra was revealed to me in a dream by a shining red Buddha. It's the last song on the album Devi, and I later learned that it's a sutra that Thich Nhat Hanh teaches. The English translation is "gone, gone, far beyond, far beyond the wisdom is."
Chloe's albums, Devi (divine feminine) and Sura (vibration) find their inspiration in the sacred sounds of spiritual traditions (Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Sufi) plus classical music and dreams. The feelings of peace and healing that emanate from her recordings are intentional. As you play them, let your voice open up and travel along with hers. It doesn't matter if you don't know all the words. It is the sound which awakens the heart and sends radiant energy to every cell of the body. Chloe improvises on the ancient melodies, letting her naked voice shape the sounds. She encourages each of us to do the same. As we move from listening to her albums to singing, we discover the power of the healing tools that are always with us. All we have to do is give ourselves permission to let the sound out which connects us to our soul.
by Dan Liss