Steve Gold: Ask me anything. What do you want to know?
Zoë Kors: Boxers or briefs?
SG: None. They get in the way.
ZK: So you have an underwear sankalpa?
SG: Yeah, I’m shedding layers—as many as possible, as quickly as possible. It’s just more laundry.
ZK: Nice. So I saw you playing at the Chopra Center recently and one of the things that I didn’t realize was how much teaching you weave into your music.
SG: When I show up, there’s never an intention to entertain. The intention is to connect with people. Music and singing are my tools for doing that. Along with that I tell my story, which is the archetypical story of the person who’s wandering in their dark night of the soul, and meets teachers along the way who bring him back to the truth. If I’m really teaching anything it’s simply that “I am and so are you. And let’s all sing
about it.” It becomes a highly spirited hootenanny. It’s celebratory of our connection back to source.
ZK: Tell me about your teacher.
SG: The Maestro was my voice teacher in Seattle. He’d had a very rich history at Carnegie Hall and his students were Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Judy Garland and many others. I happened to meet him at the end of his road when he was in his eighties. I didn’t realize at first, but he was a metaphysician. One day he looked at me very enthusiastically from the piano accompanying me, and declared, “I love you.” My reaction was total silence. And then he looked at me and said, “The problem is you don’t love yourself enough.” And in that moment I felt like glass. I felt broken. At the same time I felt his love. And he said, “No one’s going to love you as much as you love yourself.” [laughs] And of course that was incredibly disappointing!
At this time, I was starting to sing in the yoga world. I’d go to him for lessons and every time I showed up he’d ask, “Are you speaking while you sing?” And I’d say, “Oh, sometimes.” And he’d say, “Speak more.” He was encouraging me to share his teachings.
ZK: What was the Maestro’s most powerful teaching?
SG: Most people lie to themselves in the negative often, so why not lie to yourself in the positive? As you affirm, God confirms.
It takes some practicing. Go tell yourself how wonderful you are. Tell yourself you’re the best at what you do. Tell yourself how much you love yourself. Of course, it feels odd to begin that practice, because you’re so used to telling yourself otherwise. And until I met him, I hadn’t fell in love with my own voice, and I hadn’t aligned myself with my larger purpose in life. Because it was really all about me and my self-limiting beliefs or the negative lies I had been telling myself. What he taught me was so powerful. He said, “What anyone else thinks about you is none of your business.” This was hugely liberating. He gave me permission to be my authentic self, stand in my purpose and to do it in front of an audience.
ZK: And how does this serve them?
SG: They, in turn, become reconnected with themselves and the feeling in the room is inspiration. They feel fulfilled again. They feel that they’ve been bridged back, and I imagine it serves them because they feel a lot better than when they arrived.
ZK: One of the things I was struck by the other night—I don’t really know how you do this—you seem to have an ability to personally connect with each of the few hundred people in the room.
SG: It’s a combination of intention to do that and willingly stepping into a place of incredible vulnerability. By taking that step first, I invite them to come play with me. I could stand there in front of everybody and get all tripped up and think any number of negative thoughts—“I’m going to screw up… nobody’s going to like it”…whatever—or I can say, “Honestly, I don’t really care what happens here.” My intention is to sing openly. Allow my heart to sing. And when I do it, people join me. Even if they think they can’t sing. That’s the most beautiful part. I sense that they’re being fed or healed. They’re finding their own voice again.
ZK: And by the end you have a room full of people singing like they’re children.
SG: Five years old and under. [laughs]
ZK: So there is power in vulnerability?
SG: When I used to sing as an entertainer, I tended to sing with my eyes closed. It was kind of self-involved. And one day the Maestro, looked at me and said, “Sing with your eyes open and look at people. Connect with them. They want to be seen and they want to see you.” Well, of course they want to be seen. I want to be seen. And I want to see them.
One thing I’ve woven into my live performances when we do “So Much Magnificence” is at the end I will often incorporate George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” And the lines are so beautiful: “I really want to see you, I
really want to be with you, I really want to know you, I really want to show you.” And everyone connects with each other. How can you do that with your eyes closed? [laughs]
ZK: It all comes back to connection and community…
SG: Yes it does. Community is the new currency — count me in. This is my motto for living. And it comes from the knowing that I am connected. If I ever have a sense that I’m not, I know I’m lying to myself and I need to turn the ship around. So for me, if I remember who I am – I am love, I am peace, I am light – I am inspiring others to remember who they are. We are connected to ourselves and to each other. That is the true source of abundance.
ZK: Tell me about your affiliation with the Chopra Center.
SG: Earlier this year I was invited to participate in the Seduction of Spirit Music and Meditation Retreat with Deepak Chopra. It was a wonderful opportunity to support the yoga practitioners in their asana and meditation practice. Through leading them in song I became the vehicle that brought them into a deeper feeling of the teachings. That association now is expanding. In 2013, I’ll be accompanying Deepak at a number of retreats and of course my teaching is integrated into that, too. It’s been a wonderful surprise for me, and a blessing.
ZK: Thank you, Steve. As you like to say, “You are wonderful!”
SG: [smiles] Yes I am. And so are you!