About Jennifer Berezan
Jennifer Berezan is a unique blend of singer/songwriter, producer, and activist. Over the course of ten albums, her music has been shaped by her lifelong involvement in environmental, women’s, and justice movements as well as Buddhist practice.
Though her songs often confront universal issues, her perspective is informed by a refreshing and honest intimacy. Raised in the prairies of Alberta, Canada, the healing power of nature is also at the heart of her work.
Her approach to music as a transformative experience creates a strong rapport with audiences from small venues to large events throughout the world. She is a leading voice in the field of music and healing and an acclaimed producer of large scale multi-cultural ecstatic musical events. She teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in the department of Philosophy and Religion. Her on-going class (since 1997) is entitled “The Healing Ecstasy of Sound” and explores music as a spiritual practice from a wide range of traditional and contemporary perspectives.
Perhaps nothing more fully expresses the spirit of Jennifer’s lifework than the recent performances of “Song For All Beings." A large-scale multimedia cirque de spirit, these events featured over 100 artists and included Bruce Cockburn, Joanna Macy, Ferron, Jack Kornfield, Anam Thubten Rinpoche, Sarah Dugas, Raz Kennedy, and many others. Song For All Beings Live! was released as a DVD/video recording of the 2017 show.
Berezan traveled to South Korea in 2011 with co-producer don benedictson to record 250 Buddhist nuns from Un-munsa monastery. Their chanting is interwoven with voices from around the world to create the CD In These Arms, A Song for All Beings. This long-playing musical meditation based in the Buddhist practices of lovingkindness and compassion includes Dechen Shak-Dagsay (Tibet), Rita Sahai (India), Katia Cardenal (Nicaragua), Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield and many others.
Home (2013) features her signature mix of emotionally rich songs, original guitar work, warm production, a collection of esteemed musical friends and themes that celebrate home wherever one finds it. The beautiful rendered songs find Jennifer at home in California, Beijing, the Yukon Canada, and the internal realms of the heart.
In 2000 she journeyed to Malta to create Returning, a cross cultural chant-based recording. This breakthrough work pioneered her unique approach to creating extended, layered compositions. It was recorded in a 6000 year old oracular underground sound chamber in one of the world’s oldest temples. Returning is a best-selling album that is played throughout the world in yoga studios, birthing centers, hospice care, body-work settings, dance gatherings, and many other spaces. It features solos by Linda Tillery and Navajo singer Sharon Burch.
Returning was followed by Praises for the World (2002), which features special guest Alice Walker and singers from a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions. Praises for the World developed into a large scale theatrical piece as Jennifer embraced her love of collaboration. It involves nearly 60 musicians, dancers, poets, actors and activists. Performances have included guest artists Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Olympia Dukakis, Eve Ensler, Wilma Mankiller, and Tuck & Patti. The performances also function as fundraisers and educational events for progressive organizations.
She Carries Me (1995) marked the beginning of Jennifer Berezan’s journey into the realm of meditative/healing music. It features actor Olympia Dukakis in a spoken word part.
Her 1988 debut album In the Eye of The Storm laid the groundwork for what has since become music in a style that then had no label but today is part of “Americana.” The more rock oriented Borderlines (Flying Fish/Rounder Records), was nominated for a 1993 NAIRD award (the Grammy of the independent record industry). Refuge (1997) explored lush acoustic arrangements intertwined with vulnerable personal themes.
In 2005 she released End of Desire, a work that reveals her broad musical influences and interests. It weaves elements of folk, rock, chant and pop with subtle Buddhist themes, songs of love, longing and the struggle for global justice. Acoustically based with Jennifer’s guitar and smoky vocals at the forefront, it is a warm and haunting production. It includes vocal appearances by Bruce Cockburn and Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls) and was produced by Jon Evans (Tori Amos Band), and Julie Wolf.
Jennifer was recently recognized by the city of Berkeley as an artist of note and the month of April (2020) was declared "Jennifer Berezan" month.
Jennifer Berezan is not your typical singer/songwriter and her work continues to expand artistic boundaries, blurring the distinctions between musical styles, politics, and spirituality.
The Canadian born singer calls Berkeley, California home when not on tour.
photo by Irene Young