See Barbara's newest musical adventure

"The Earth has music for those who listen."  -George Santayana

I'm a late bloomer, musically. I started out working in social services, and was also involved in environmental activism and social justice work. I was continually lamenting the lack of energetic, inspiring music to lift people up and bring them together in joy and inspiration for the work of healing the world. There was folk music that was a vital part of the movement, but I longed for something funkier, more rhythmic, and with some new stories of how we might relate to each other and the world. Finally, tired of complaining, I decided to learn more about music, and create some of the songs I was longing for.

While I had sung in choral groups, I had to face down the all-too-common fear of vocal performance. I studied voice intensively. It was a kind of mindfulness practice, and lyrics and melodies starting coming to me. I did personal work which helped to strengthen me for forging my own unlikely path as a musician. I had many supportive teachers who did not judge this latecomer to the music scene, but supported and pushed me to follow the thread of the new story of a life as a singer and songwriter.

I am particularly interested in vocal improvisation, and was fortunate to study with Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon, and others in the art of vocal improvisation. I see improvisation as a vital skill for these times- we're all needing to learn to move quickly, trust our intuition, and take risks with our lives in general in this changing world, and vocal improv seems like the most fun way to practice these skills! The creative process teaches us skill, attitudes, and principles that will serve us well in our quest to contribute boldly, joyfully, and effectively.



From "CircleSinging can be described lots of ways: vocal improvisation, vocal “jamming”, add-a-part/change-a-part, vocal orchestra, “voicestra”, a “drum circle” for singers, or just plain “make it up” singing.  It’s done all over the world in countless different ways and it dates back to the earliest forms of human singing.

Circlesongs is where a circle of singers takes melodic and rhythmic cues (parts) from a skilled facilitator creating repeated rhythmic and harmonic patterns that create songs unique to the moment.

Most Circlesongs are revolving wordless vocal patterns, yet the syllables help distinguish one from the next. At times they are pure scat, but in some songs they sound like an invented language. As the facilitator cues out old parts and introduces new ones, the song continues and changes without stopping, the backgrounds evolve in subtle variations as the facilitator (and at times other singers) groove on top, yet are always staying grounded in attentive listening.

Circlesinging pulls from all kinds of African, Middle Eastern and other vocal or vocal percussive techniques. Under the creative guidance of the skilled facilitator, the group is lead in completely improvised music performance; every moment is free of preconceptions and is created anew. When you enter the circle, you are in a “Mistake-Free” zone."

I lead circlesinging events, as stand-alone gatherings and as part of other workshops. It's a wonderful way to build community, practice joy, and strengthen our willingness to take risks.

Blue Earth

My debut recording, available in CD and digital download. Produced by the mega-talented Anne Weiss (, it is a collection of original and cover songs that speak to the multiple stories of connection and disconnection to the world and each other. It is socially conscious blues/jazz/folk/funk...playful, soulful, rhythmic, and topical, it engages the heart, mind, and feet all at the same time. It features talented musicians in the Portland music community, including Jean Pierre Garau, Arcellus Sykes, Spank Hopkins, Scott Law, Gideon Freudmann, David Lipkind, and James Mason.

This recording is available at on CD Baby here. Also on ITunes here, and Amazon here.

Blue Earth Project Band

Blue Earth Band- Jean Pierre Garau, Spank Hopkins, Barbara Ford, Arcellus Sykes, Anne Weiss