Ravenna Michalsen: Musician

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Buddhist Geeks episode 123: Dharma Music Can Sound Like Anything

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Ravenna Michalsen trained as a classical cellist for fourteen years before turning to voice and song writing. During a retreat in 2002, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche wrote a song-like poem for Ravenna to set to music: “Just A Seed Waiting to Grow”, which appears in two different versions on her new album Bloom. She began recording her dharma songs in 2005 at the urging of Tsultrim Allione, the author of Women of Wisdom (a collection of six hagiographies of great female Buddhist masters), and the founder of the Tara Mandala Buddhist retreat center.

In 2007 Ravenna recorded and released her second album Dharmasong to critical acclaim, receiving glowing reviews and an invitation to tour in Malaysia in 2008. In February 2009 Ravenna's third album, Bloom, was released and the national publication, Tricycle Magazine: The Buddhist Review, published a profile on her work. Both Dharmasong and Bloom are essentially devotional albums: sadness, joy, love and anger are combined with utter openness, playfulness and acceptance. The songs range from supplications to praise; from requests to questions; from statements to apologies. Many feature prominent figures from Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, including Yeshe Tsogyal, Machig Labdrön, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), Marpa Lotsawa, Milarepa, Arya Tara and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Ravenna holds a BA and MA from Yale University, she is a native of New Haven, CT.