Peace for a song: An interview with local musician Jim Downer

By Blogger Christine Moughamian

Is there any world faith that doesn’t have a song for peace?

My internet search “World faith songs for peace” lists about 135,000,000 results in 0.29 second. That’s a lot of peace songs in less than a third of a second! A random browse shows that from Christian to Muslim, Baha’i, Sufi, Hindu and a host of other religions, every faith on Earth wants peace for a song.

To this impressive inventory, I’d like to add first time recording artist Jim Downer’s debut CD “Livin’ in the Light, A Journey of Prayer.” Downer performed at Unity of Wilmington on Friday, December 2, with pianist extraodinaire Philip Pennington and saxophone virtuoso Benny Hill.

His opening song, Children of God, brought his audience to tears with simple lyrics sung in a raw authentic voice: “My prayer is my song… Peace for us all, children of God.” Interviewed for the world premiere concert, Downer says his CD “Livin’ in the Light truly is a journey of prayer, beginning with a man’s prayer, a supplication for peace throughout the world, no matter what our goals, color, race and creed.”

As outlined in the companion songbook, the song collection takes the listener through “a progression of prayer.”

“Whether or not the lyrics say the word ‘peace,’ all the songs bring about deepening peace,” Pennington adds. From the invitation of “God is Speaking” to the surrender of “Here I am Lord,” (inspired by the bible story in 1 Samuel 3), to the blessings of Livin’ in the Light, the song that got the audience on their feet, clapping and singing “Yeah, yeah, we’re livin’ in the Light, halleluia, now everything is right, thank God, we’re livin’ in the Light.”

Then follows an affirmation of abundance with Hill’s “happy favorite” “My Cup Runneth Over,” thanksgiving with “Thank You God,” and the final dedication, “Today.”

“It’s important to continue the journey in our daily lives,” Downer says, “and to dedicate and re-dedicate ourselves, everyday, to serving God and each other, as family, all fellow children of God.” Downer presents his songs in this specific order to be used for a church service.

Asked to define his musical style, Downer answers that “it’s inspirational music, lyric-driven. You see it labeled as ‘spiritual’ on the CD, but in terms of the music genre, it goes from soft rock to what I’d like to call the spiritual ballad.”

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than sing a song for peace?

To support your local “Troubadours for Peace,” you can hear Pennington 7-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at Unity in a sing-a-long at 717 Orchard Ave. You can hear more of Downer’s music also at Unity at the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Details: (910) 763-5155

c. 2011 Christine Moughamian

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