The Soul of a Mystic
I am so excited that the cover of my new CD is an old photograph of my Grandma Anna. She was a highly intuitive, mystical woman with a huge heart and a beautiful singing voice. Grandma Anna was one of my favorite people in the whole world! She and my grandfather were major loving influences in my life, teaching me about faith and G-d. Our family gatherings in their Brooklyn apartment to celebrate Shabbat and holidays are among my happiest childhood memories.
Recording The Soul of a Mystic was abundantly meaningful to me. This CD was inspired by my love for my heritage and my joyful and devotional exploration and study of Torah and Kabbalah. Working in the studio with two extremely talented musicians/arrangers/producers, my husband Jeff Southworth and friend Lee Weissman, I felt safe and open to allow the creative process to unfold. As I sang these prayers and songs in both Hebrew and English, I held a photo of Grandma Anna to my heart and felt a deep connection to my ancestors.
My hope is that this music conveys my prayerful, sincere wish for peace, spiritual elevation, and oneness for all living beings.
Listen to samples of Frannie's latest music,
Buy the CD or individual tracks, and read about the meanings of her new songs.
1. Modah Ani (Modeh for men)—Morning gratitude prayer
This is the morning blessing I say as soon as I wake up. It starts my day with gratitude for G-d granting me another day and returning within me- my breath of life! I learned Tai Chi movements to this prayer that I love to do outside facing the sun. It is very life affirming for the body, mind and spirit.
2. Kol Haneshama—From the last line of Psalm 150
The breath/soul of every living thing praises G-d! The word breath and soul are very similar in Hebrew. Breath is neshima and soul is neshama. In Kabbalah the breath is known as the gateway to the soul. And as we do in meditation, simply by sitting quietly and being aware of the miracle of each breath, we can experience that gateway. I love Jeff’s arrangement. It reminds me of a music box.
3. R'tzeih—1st of 3 closing prayers from the Amidah, a central part of daily prayers
I was inspired to sing this after hearing my cantor sing it so beautifully, and falling in love with Stephen Richard’s melody. It was a joy to have Chris Coogan playing piano. He, Jeff and I have been playing music together for close to two decades! The prayer asks that G-d receive our prayers with love, and that our worship always be acceptable. This version ends with, Blessed is the Lord, whom we worship in awe.
4. The Soul of a Mystic—a nigun
A nigun is a wordless song or a spiritual language beyond words. When I wrote this song, I was studying the meditation techniques of 13th century Spanish Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia. I brought the song to Lee who knew nothing of my studies, but serendipitously did this beautiful Spanish arrangement, hence the name, The Soul of a Mystic; a tribute to Abulafia and Grandma Anna.
5. If I Can Stop One Heart—Emily Dickinson poem
This poem by Emily Dickinson moved me very much. The melody came from a place of contemplation on how even a simple kindness such as a smile at someone in need can make a big difference in their day. Originally, I accompanied myself playing Koshi chimes that my son James introduced me to. When Lee and I recorded this song, we performed live together in his studio, something rarely done these days. It was magical. At the very end of the song, you’ll hear us play the chimes.
6. L'maancha—From Yom Kippur evening service
I heard this exquisite prayer and melody written and sung by Eitan Katz on YouTube. I instantly fell in love with it and was so happy when I reached out to him and he gave me permission to record it. There are no coincidences. I later found out that Rabbi Greg, who I study with twice a week, and who is a fabulous musician himself, used to play in Eitan’s band! In the month of Elul, leading up to the High Holidays that includes Yom Kippur, Teshuvah is practiced, where we personally ask to be forgiven by those we have harmed, we forgive ourselves and others who have harmed us, and we ask G-d to be merciful, to forgive our transgressions and to write us into The Book of Life for another year. Terrifying, but also beautiful that we are given a clean slate, renewed with an opportunity to make wise choices, and live up to our full potential in the coming year!!! Singing and recording L’maancha was a very powerful yet delicate and deeply humbling experience for me. It stirred my soul.
"Act for Your sake, our G-d, and not for ours, behold our [spiritual] position - destitute and empty-handed. The soul is Yours and the body is Your handiwork; take pity on Your labor."
7. Hashkiveinu—Evening prayer of protection
When I recorded this with Lee, Jeff and I had recently had our first granddaughter!!! I love this prayer and wanted to record a lullaby arrangement for her. Craig Taubman’s beautiful melody worked perfectly. In this prayer of protection, we ask for G-d to watch over us and guard us as we sleep, enabling us to rest peacefully and wake up again in the morning restored to life. We ask to be guided and sheltered through the night.
8. Peace in the World—A prayer for peace
Jeff and I wrote Peace in the World over a decade ago and recently re-recorded it with English and Hebrew lyrics for this CD. It is a universal prayer of loving-kindess, blessing ourselves and all beings with peace. There are many different beautiful traditions and different spiritual paths but from my experience studying a few, they all lead to the same truth; that we are not separate, but One. Deeply connected, ever flowing energy. That we all want love and safety for our families. That each of us has a Divine spark within us. And that kindness (chesed), compassion (rachamim) and love (ahava) are the way to a better world.
Thank you to all who made this CD possible...
Thank you, Jeff Southworth, for your countless hours of gorgeous work on this CD. I so appreciate the detailed care you put into each of these recordings. I’m very blessed to be married to such an amazingly talented man who honors and respects what is important to me. I love you.
Lee Weissman, we have always made beautiful music together and this is no exception. What a treat it was to record in your studio, especially during COVID. Thank you for your time, love and for bringing the magic-it all went to tape!
Johnny Squicciarino, you are the rock I can always count on to put the icing on the cake and bring the music home. Thank you so much.
Thank you Robin Batteau, Sharon Bryant & Chris Coogan for gracing the CD with your magnificent presence!!!! Always bringing the light!
Wendy Engel, thank you for the gift of the beautiful CD art package, for your friendship, and being the best study partner ever. May all you do for others come back to you and Shana through beautiful blessings!
James Southworth, thank you for your creative and magnificent work on the Peace in the World video. No one does it like you do! So grateful. Love you!
Peter Holm, thank you for capturing many lovely moments through the years out in nature. I always enjoy our sessions, the results, and a time to catch up with you!
Thank you Noga Shalev for the stunning Modah Ani mandala.
Amy Carroll of abcwritedesign.com. Thank you for updating my website. You were fabulous to work with. I recommend Amy!
Thank you Rabbi/Cantor Sklar for recommending I use Oseh Shalom for Peace in the World and for collaborating on the beautiful Shabbat Shalva music and meditation classes through temple Shalom. Thank you Rabbi Jason for teaching me Modah Ani that I have recited every morning since and is deeply meaningful in my life, and for always helping. Thank you both and Rabbi Mark for Torah study! Thanks to Dr. Rabbi Orna Triguboff, my treasured gentle Kabbalah teacher, for filling my heart, body & soul with magnificent teachings. Thanks to the insightful Rabbi Greg Wall for Lunch n’ Learn and Ramchal Torah study. Thanks to my meditation sangha for keeping me grounded when life can feel uprooted, calm when anxious and for the commitment to meditation practice for over 15 years together! Thanks Vadim, Rabbi Orna, family and friends who submitted photos for the video. Vadim, thanks for always being willing to help me with Hebrew translations!
Thanks to my family and friends! And to all of the ancestors whose shoulders we stand on!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!