The project began as a way to provide comfort for those going through the last stages of hospice care, both patients and family members. The soothing music and singing on the compact disc "Light Body" helps ease the transition to the next step in one's journey.
Local music artist Trisha Bowden never expected the recording would also carry her to the Grammy Awards next week in Los Angeles. Her collaboration with acclaimed pianist and composer Peter Kater is nominated for best album in the New Age category.
What started as a discussion about the lack of music available for those experiencing the final stages of life has evolved into a recording that has brought some recognition to what Bowden calls "therapy music."
"It's taken on a life of its own," said Bowden, who performs vocals on the CD and is the executive producer. "It's gone way beyond the last hours of hospice care. I never dreamed that it would lead to this."
Bowden first met Kater, a multi-platinum selling composer and producer, only a couple years ago on a whale-watching trip he organized in Maui, Hawaii. They realized they shared similar musical and spiritual interests. When he invited her back to Hawaii to sing at a raw foods and yoga retreat, she suggested a recording for people in hospice.
"It's such a time of transition. It's such a scary time for families," Bowden said.
She had recently gone through the loss of a grandmother-in-law and father-in-law and was struck by the silence.
"Sitting in the room with no music and no sound. There was really something terribly missing to the whole process," she said.
Kater was enthusiastic about the idea.
"He said 'I've been trying to get people interested in that for four years now and everybody says you don't want to go there. It's a downer. You don't want to push that on people,' " Bowden recalled.
While Bowden had sung since she was a little girl and had been part of the pop scene in New York City and Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, she was not familiar with the production and business side of the industry.
She formed Hanover-based Mysterium Music, specifically for healing music, and began to learn the ropes from Kater and others.
"As soon we started this project things started to unfold in a good way," said Bowden, who has lived with her husband Gary near Lake Marburg for the past 10 years. "It was a step-by-step learning process for me."
After working on and off for nearly a year on the project, the CD was released in September on their own record label.
Based on the seven Chakra energy systems of the body, with the final Chakra going out into the universe, the music is comforting and inspiring for people facing everything from common stress and trauma to the dying process.
"It's sort of balancing a person and allowing them to feel comfortable in letting go and going," she said.
Not only has the recording been picked up by hospice caretakers, it has become popular with massage therapists, psychologists and psychotherapists.
Over the years, Bowden made her own transition, from those pop-music days to a more spiritual sound.
"It was other people's music telling me what to sing," said Bowden, who counts blues and gospel among her favorite music. "I don't want to sing about negative things. I want to sing about positive things."
Bowden is looking forward to her first trip to the Grammy Awards and expects to spend most of the week in Los Angeles for parties and ceremonies. For Kater, who was at the forefront of the New Age genre with his 1983 album "Spirit," it is his eighth nomination.
Bowden said the nomination for "Light Body" is a breakthrough of sorts.
Kater and Bowden have at least two other projects planned for Mysterium Music, one aimed at those dealing with autism and another for cancer patients.
"I know I'll never make any money at this but if it helps people with this, I'm happy," she said. "I'm singing for god and humankind."