Without Art, there is no life.

~Ukrainian proverb

Raisa is a professional singer and storyteller who fund raises for charity.

Listen to song and story clips here

Song & story at Mom's Cafe
Singing gospel at the MLK March, Seattle 2009
Raisa is in the middle, having the time of her life
Photo: Seattle Times

Readers of my story in Chicken Soup, "Breathe," have asked why one must work so hard to learn to sing. Here is my response:

We learn a physical discipline so the soul is free to express itself.

As practitioners of yoga and tai chi are learning, the spiritual is often found in the physical. Dedicated singers have always experienced this.

In vocal study, you discover that the human body is an independent instrument. A portal between the interior universe and the cosmos.

This discipline dovetails beautifully with Animal Communication. Because I am able to listen to the finest internal nuance as well as be comfortable in silence, my consciousness has room to receive animal voices. They ring as clear and true as a cascade of pure notes.

I was fascinated to learn from Southern gospel and bluegrass singers, that in some churches, musical instruments are forbidden. This is so they may not interfere with the bodily instrument, known as the
Sacred Harp.

Once I learned solid techniques to access this sense of sacredness, as well as the discipline to practice, I fell deeply in love with my own voice.

Raisa Stone
Raisa with Kevin Harris of the
New Orleans Dirty Dozen
Slice of Life
With the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir
Director: Dr. Trevor Payne

Photo: Michel Dugas, Montreal Gazette

Why Storytelling?


Raisa Stone

Storytelling is a way to inform each other of our deepest needs, feelings and our history. Of our interdependence not only with each other, but with all species and the cosmos. Story defines and binds together community by revealing how we are alike and yet each unique.

It instructs by bringing humour and understanding to unbearable situations, bridging disturbing paradox and suggesting creative solutions to emotionally charged dilemmas.

Storytelling is a way to simultaneously explicitly describe and leave unsaid the Mystery; that which brings us into being, animates us, moves between us and causes our deaths.

At the core of every classic myth, Biblical lesson, modern novel and movie is story. For thousands of years, African storytellers called griots have recited tales of tribal history that span days. This tradition comes to us in Blues and Gospel music.

Jesus of Nazareth is probably the best known storyteller in history; would we still be recounting his legend if he had presented a list of facts instead of mesmerizing parables?

Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, travelling storytellers known as minstrels enlightened isolated European villages to both mundane details of others' lives and vital political information with life or death implications. In my homeland of Ukraine, these people were known as kobzari. The information they shared was considered so vital, Stalin had them rounded up and executed.

The shock of this discovery led me to write down and start telling the stories related to me by European survivors of Stalin and Hitler, including my own family.

In contemporary culture, sharing stories from the heart is a powerful remedy for the electronic fast fact, the cult of celebrity and media disinformation.

Storytelling reminds us of the beautiful complexity of being human.

©2006 Raisa Stone. May not be reproduced in any form without written permission.

Baba's Kitchen: Ukrainian Soul Food with Stories From the Village is available here.
  Photo & Design: Raisa Stone