Madeleine L'Engle on writing and courage
The glassy hill

Tunes for a Monday Morning

As I go through a stretch of time with some difficult things to contend with (and I'm sorry I can't be more explicit than that in this public forum), I'm grateful for the ways that music can lift the spirits even on the most daunting of days. One of the albums in heavy rotation in my studio lately is Sing to the Moon, last year's debut release by singer/songwriter Laura Mvula, from Birmingham, UK. Mvula's gorgeously multi-layered music -- rooted in soul, jazz, and gospel, but also rich in influences from English and African folk music and other worldwide musical genres -- is powerful medicine indeed.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so the beautiful song above -- "She," filmed in South Africa -- goes out to all of the good people who work with abused, neglected, homeless, and traumatized kids the world over. Including an incredible organization that I just learned about from my husband, Clowns Without Borders...

Clowns Without Borders in South Africa

...a federation of clowns from Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S., dedicated to bringing laughter to children in war zones, refugee camps, and other places where communities are in crisis.The whole thing was started by  Tortell Poltrona, a clown from Barcelona, after performing for children in war-ravaged Croatia in 1993. (You can read more about it in Mark Hay's recent article for Vice magazine.)

Clowns Without Borders in South America

Getting back to the music....

Below, Mvula performs her album's title song, "Sing to the Moon," at the Full Future Festival in 2012.


"Green Garden," peformed last year for the BBC's Sound of 2013.

And last, a fabulous video for yet another fabulous song: "That's Alright."

Oh how I wish this one could be the personal anthem of every young girl -- and indeed, every young boy -- growing up amidst the narrow, poisonous definition of beauty so pervasive in our media culture today.

Bless you, Laura Mvula, for your strength, wisdom, and true beauty.