The N.C. Songsmiths Concert Series has brought a lot of diverse, interesting and talented musicians to the High Country. The host for the series has been in Boone, which offers a concert every Monday evening that showcases western North Carolina-based artists. See Nightlife, page 11.

On Aug. 12, the N.C. Songsmiths Concert Series will feature Madelyn Ilana, a musician who tries to reflect the beauty of nature in her songs. She is also an herbalist and a practitioner of Reiki and Body Dialogue therapies.

When the Mountain Times interviewed Ilana a few days ago, she was in France. Currently based in Asheville, Ilana’s path to Western N.C. was a bit of a winding road.

“I grew up in a couple of different places,” said Ilana. “I was born in upstate New York and lived there until I was 13, and then my family moved to Florida. I came to North Carolina after I finished studying at the University of Central Florida because I wanted to learn more about natural ways of living. So, I came to North Carolina to work at an eco-Institute. Then I went to California to study herbal medicine and after that I decided to move to Asheville.”

Ilana decided to take a summer excursion to France to decompress after time spent creating her upcoming project.

“I am in France now because I wanted to take a trip and have an adventure after this intensive summer of recording my new album, ‘Awake Dreaming,’” said Ilana. “The creative process has been beautiful and gratifying, yet it made me crave a change of scenery. I have always wanted to go to France because I studied French for many years. My girlfriend used to live here and she was taking a trip this summer to visit friends and family, so I decided to join her.”

A part of the journey turned into a wonderful night of sharing culture and new music.

“We have enjoyed celebrating life and love at a French wedding celebration over the past few days on the Auray River in Brittany,” said Ilana. “One night, while watching a sliver of a moon rise, I shared a demo recording of one of my songs with a new friend I made at the wedding. He is also a writer. He understands a little bit of English, but I wouldn’t say he is fluent. But, after hearing a recording of one of my songs called ‘The Well,’ he said it reminded him of nature, of hiking on high mountains, of the sound of the wind. Even without knowing all of the lyrics, I loved seeing how a deeper meaning in my song could be felt. This reminds me how universal music is, and that it is completely possible to communicate an essence without words.”

Following her muse, Ilana admits that her music is unique and reflective.

“I would describe my music as prayerful, deep, healing, dreamy, emotional, cathartic, inquisitive, thoughtful, melodic, ancestral, ethereal and folky,” said Ilana. “The music is born out of a state of receptivity that I reach when I open all of my senses to take in the natural world. The experience of nature germinates within me and melodies are grown afterwards.”

Appreciating the natural world and the essence of all that entails is one thing. Writing original music that corrals such things is another matter.

“My upcoming album contains songs which were composed throughout the past few years, over many journeys, in many places, inspired by many different experiences,” said Ilana. “When I am composing a song, I feel that I become possessed by it until it is complete. The melody floats around in my mind, almost stalking me, waiting for me to finish it. Sometimes, the songs come fully composed in dreams, sometimes in meditations, and usually they are from an unfurling process which comes from a state of ‘awake dreaming.’”

To help get into a positive and helpful state, Ilana practices Body Dialogue therapy and Reiki, mentioned above.

“As for Body Dialogue therapy, to be in dialogue with my body is to trust the wisdom of my sensations, to listen to the messages my body offers to me in each moment,” said Ilana. “I remember to breathe and I am always holding the intention of taking care of myself. I wish for this sense of permission for all beings, to nourish and tend to their bodies. In this busy world it can be hard to take the time to do this.”

Ilana is looking forward to returning to Boone and the High Country area.

“I have played at in Boone once before,” said Ilana. “I have enjoyed hiking Roan Mountain a couple of times. I love the trees up there with their swirly bark that reminds me of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ painting.”

The N.C. Songsmiths Concert Series is free and open to the public.

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