Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome
Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, and Paul Avgerinos
2017 / Grand Central Publishing
Review by Kathy Parsons
Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome is an inspiring collaborative project by Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, and Paul Avgerinos. I reviewed the music CD separately, but the complete package includes a book of 34 poems by Chopra and Sehgal that were inspired by immigrants to the USA and a CD with twelve pieces of music inspired by twelve of the poems. The project was created in response to the changing policies and attitudes toward immigrants in the US as well as to people who are “different” in their skin color, culture, religion, or traditions. These words from the Introduction in the book summarize the project beautifully: “Now, in 2017, more than in recent memory, that lamp [in reference to the Statue of Liberty] is shining less brightly than it used to, and the door is closing. Too many of our friends and family members feel like strangers in their own homeland.”
Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, and Paul Avgerinos are either immigrants or the sons of immigrants, making this project even more personal. The poems were inspired by a diverse group of immigrants to the US who made this country (and the world) a better place by sharing their gifts and talents. Many of the listed names were familiar to me, but not all, by any means, so I was grateful for the section at the back of the book that explains who each person is/was, where he or she came from (and when), and what he or she was best-known for. The list includes the three principal artists’ fathers as well as people who were or are prominent in the arts, sciences, government, media, sports, social activism, education and business. Each poem is a snapshot of of the person who inspired it, giving an impression rather than a detailed description and I’m sure many of the poems will inspire readers to explore the lives of these important people in more depth.
The CD includes an impressive list of guest musicians from all over the world in addition to the three principal artists who co-wrote the music. In addition to vocals by all three artists, Chopra plays tanpura drone, shaker, drums and percussion; Sehgal plays shaker, drums, percussion and bass; and Avgerinos plays synthesizers, piano, bass, bass violin, guitars, percussion, drums and did the sound design. All three are Grammy winners. Much of the music has a strong Eastern influence, but it is a blending of many musical traditions and genres into a true world music. Most, but not all, of the vocals are spoken words taken from the corresponding poems in the book. Most of the music is instrumental, and the words often float in the background, making this a soothing and relaxing work of musical art as well as a very important statement and reminder that nearly all of us in the US originated from immigrants who came here seeking a better way of life whether it was on the Mayflower or a more recent and modern mode of transportation.
The book and CD package is available from Amazon and iTunes. I highly recommend it!
September 25, 2017