Allen Eugene Bardwell

This CD is dedicated to my father, Allen Eugene Bardwell, better known as Gene, Dad, and Papa. From the time I was tiny, he sang to me, starting with “My Diane” in my crib — a hit song at the time I was born. He sang with my mother, my two sisters, and me, showing us by example how to sing with heart, clear tone, and perfect pitch.

My parents loved to sing together and we learned to harmonize as easily as breathing. It gave us such pleasure to meld our voices together, at the piano, in the car, anytime at all.

Dad always told me that I had to sing, believing that my voice had a deeply soothing quality that was healing. He constantly encouraged me and celebrated each step of my music progress.

All through the years of writing these chants and finally recording them, he eagerly awaited hearing this CD. He was delighted to be present at one of the early recording sessions, and listened to me record layer after layer of harmonies, marveling at the technology that made it possible. He exclaimed how incredibly fortunate it was that I found Stevin to produce and engineer this CD.

As I neared the final steps of recording, we talked — Dad was in Virginia, I was in Oregon — and he was so excited about hearing the almost finished product! Shortly after that call, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema — though a non-smoker — and soon was put on constant oxygen. Two days later, he entered the ICU and died four days after that, on January 20, 2011.

My sisters and I were with him for those four days, sometimes singing for him. As he became oxygen-deprived, he became increasingly uncomfortable and, during the last night, quite agitated. I suddenly realized that I had my laptop with me with the tracks of the almost final mixes of the chants, and I had not yet played them for him! I put my headphones on him and played them for him, one at a time. Literally in seconds, he settled down and relaxed into a deeply calm meditative state.

My father had meditated for 50 years and wanted to be consciously aware as he died. Though his body was slowly shutting down, we realized that this music created a beautifully conducive space for him to feel his own connection to the Divine and to be able to relax, let go, and merge, soaring past the limitations of his ailing body.

His experience taught me in a way that no other could how powerfully healing this music can be. This was his last and greatest gift to me — a blessed and final approval of my life's work.