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Ysaye, Suzzy, DuPree, and Maggie

ZERO CHURCH (Red House) • Suzzy and Maggie Roche

If this record doesn't stop you in your tracks, your car may be out of control. I had a tire wobbling a little anyway, so I pulled it over, and started walking. I could hear much better then.

Zero Church is a big and important undertaking. It was originally intended to be released September 11th. It's a collection of prayers of many kinds about many things: tolerance, peace, compassion.

You won't hear any other records like this this year, or maybe any year. It's an amazing collection of words from many sources and music mostly by Suzzy or Maggie Roche, heavenly and spiritual music.

They had help from a lot of people along the way. The work began at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue in the Boston area, and it's described in more detail in the accompanying booklet, which reads like a prayer book the further into the record one gets.

Some examples of what the sources for the words were are in order. There is a prayer from a young man for his people in southern Sudan: he had been taken from his village and sold into slavery, then was bought and sold for 10 years until, finally, he was able to escape and make his way to America. There are two pieces from Ruben Martinez about overcoming oppression and attempting to cross the border to freedom. There are prayers for the people of New York City. And there is a poem translated from the original Hebrew that meant a lot to me, "Each of Us Has a Name." It will surprise you, which pieces reach out and speak to you, and why.

Don't count on getting through this record in the same shape you started out in. I surrendered to it little by little, and eventually slowed way down and it rearranged my concerns for me. Mostly they shrunk down to a more proper size. It directed me to areas of myself where there were light bulbs out, so I changed them.

Check out some of these prayers on our Listen page, see if you don't owe this record to yourself or to a friend.  • FG

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