Ha Lau Leo Nani - The Gathering Place
I'm seeking your continued help with building improvements for Ha Lau Leo Nani, The Gathering Place, a building project at Leo Nani Farms on the Big Island of Hawai'i. We have completed the first phase of the construction and initial operating expenses for a 1600-square-foot building consisting of a 1000 square foot multi-purpose space with a dancer- friendly recycled rubber floor,and adjacent bathroom, administrative office, and small photographic studio.
The building serves as the center for my Vocal River improvisation workshops, as well as conducting my teacher training program. Presently, I spend considerable time each year traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan: performing, giving workshops, and providing teacher training. My plan is to bring these students to my home instead. By spending more time in Hawai'i, I can deepen my relationship with the local community, contributing more consistently to the Big Island's creative life. This studio is crucial to making that shift in an economically viable way.Six years ago, when I founded Leo Nani Farms with my wife, photographer Janne Watson, our intention was to create a sustainable farm featuring the arts as an equal partner: feeding the soul as well as the body. Our farm already is known as a place where unusual collaborative events happen, embracing the diverse cultures of the island in the spirit of inclusiviity and respect.
Ha Lau Leo Nani: The Gathering Place provides a venue that helps us realize this intention more fully. It will be the work-space where inspirational people from around the islands and around the world (musicians, dancers, chefs, farmers and healers, all part of our extensive network) collaborate with their local counterparts. These events will be documented with Janne's expert photographic eye as part of the creative process.
Rhiannon is a vocal artist with a vision of music as a vehicle for innovation, healing, transformation, and social change. From her stellar collaborations with the all-women’s jazz ensemble Alive!, to a cappella ensemble SoVoSo, to Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra, Rhiannon has paved a unique path as an independent artist. In recent years she has continued to refine her improvisation work by performing in the a cappella trio WeBe3 with Joey Blake and David Worm, both 25-year members of Voicestra. Rhiannon also is working with renowned instrumentalists Abraham Laboriel, Alex Acuna, Otmaro Ruiz and Jetro Da Silva in an ensemble known as Spontaneous. Both groups tour internationally, giving completely improvised performances. Rhiannon is represented by Class Acts On Tour (classactsontour.com).
Rhiannon’s book about her life and teaching methods, Vocal River, was published in 2013. The powerful body-based vocal improvisation and sound healing process that Rhiannon teaches internationally has now been extended to include a year-long training called All The Way In. She taught Vocal Studies for several years at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and maintains a position as Adjunct Faculty at that institution.
Janne Watson studied with iconic American photographers, Wynn Bullock and Imogen Cunningham, and worked as a commercial and fine art photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area for 35 years. While studying and photographing Aikido, Janne began improvising with the camera. From that process emerged her definitive portfolio and a collaborative book with Sensei Terry Dobson, It's A Lot Like Dancing, An Aikido Journey, as well as her gallery shows; “Women in Nature” and “Of The Earth.” Her commitment to personal and social transformation through improvisation and collaboration characterize a career in which she has documented her ongoing journey amongst people and environments, from the Sierras to New Mexico, to her current home in Hawaii.
Support Our Project
Your contribution will be tax deductible if you donate using this Fractured Atlas link.
Fractured Atlas is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of Ha Lau Leo Nani are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
If you do not need the tax deduction and prefer to mail a check directly,
please send to:
Rhiannon (not Rhiannon Music)
PO BOX 371
Hakalau, Hawaii 96710
Rhiannon is one of the great living masters of vocal improvisation. Both as a performer and teacher of this powerful art form, she has dazzled audiences and nurtured students around the globe for decades. She inspires the people she touches with a vision of what the human voice and humanity itself can make possible,through diligence, fearlessness, and deep love. After having successfully captured the essence of her philosophy and pedagogy in her recent book, Vocal River, Rhiannon is poised to take her pioneering work even further, through the development of a center where singers, improvisers, and artists from around the world can come and engage in intensive training and performance.
~ J McKnight, All the Way In graduate
Rhiannon is incredibly brilliant and fun. I trust her musical instincts completely. A fellow graduate of MSU (Making Stuff Up) and a member of Voicestra since the beginning, she's one of my very favorite people to improvise with. I'm so glad she's finally taken the time to document her thoughtful, heartfelt, inspired approach. Delve in deeply!
~ Bobby McFerrin
People ask me about singing with you, and I just tell to 'em straight: Rhiannon is a LIGHTNING BOLT. The charge is continuous, illuminating and revitalizing.
~ Susan Lachmann, Women On Air
This is what I’ve learned from studying with Rhiannon for 15 years: improvisation can be our salvation—individually and as a species. By cultivating our authentic, fearless, boundlessly creative selves, and listening deeply to each other, we find new ways of joining together that lead to a world that works for everyone. Let’s build Ha Lau Leo Nani as the test bed, the incubator, the womb for the world we know is possible, the world we know is necessary.
A fabled underground figure in vocal jazz, Rhiannon turns improvisation into performance art... With a soft, supple voice and a range that climbs to the sky, she shows what heights jazz singing can reach when it combines disciplined musicianship with utter fearlessness.
~ James Gavin, Time Out New York
Rhiannon, the grand sorcerer, lures all whom she meets, her collaborators, I being one, her students, and her audiences, into the mysteries of her enchanted world of song. How lucky we have been!
~ Ruth Zaporah, Action Theater
More About the Farm and the Future
We can house several visitors in our guest home on the far side of the land. This building is off the grid with solar panels and a small bathhouse. In addition to making a payment (often through grants) for this housing, guests will offer a performance, workshop, or cooking class at the end of their visit to contribute to the vitality and creative energy of the Hakalau/Wailea and nearby Hilo communities. Our recently enlarged lanai on the main house serves as an outdoor kitchen and dining room for these gatherings.
As part of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunity on Organic Farms), we have encouraged visits from young people who come to work on the farm and collaborate as artists. In particular, we envision a project called Daughters, for young women heading into their adult lives who want to experience their physical, artistic, emotional and spiritual power. As two women who grew up on farms, who have had long careers as independent artists, and now are working farmers ourselves, Janne and I are in a special position to serve as mentors for this interdisciplinary work, with Leo Nani Farms as the perfect setting. We believe that channeling these young women's abundant creative energy through the events at Ha Lau Leo Nani will help them find the self-confidence and groundedness so necessary to surviving as working artists.
The rural Big Island community has very few venues similar to what we have in mind, dedicated to presenting multi-disciplinary, community-based, and affordable events.