April 2023 | Interview with MaMuse – Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker – Part I

Part I

Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker in bathtub

Karisha Longaker (K) and Sarah Nutting (S) formed MaMuse in 2007. They are consummate musicians—each plays a number of instruments, which include, upright bass, flute, mandolin, percussion, and more. Their voices create exquisite harmonies and they often sing acapella. 
I first heard MaMuse play at the Global Resilience Conference 2022 on Zoom. Last Fall, I heard them in person as MaMuse + Fula Brothers, an African/Folk/Gospel-infused mash-up, at Landwell, the community in Sebastopol where they live.
Our interview happened on Zoom:
I’ve been listening to two of your albums, “Heart Nouveau” and “Integration of the Awkward.” It came to me that a good way in would be to look at your lyrics and see what unfolds. 

“Calling All Angels” by Karisha.
Calling all angels
Here to guide you
Calling all angels
To surround you
Calling all angels
To walk beside you
Love may you walk
On solid ground
On solid ground
Each one in our own
Each one in our time
Will find our way back to the source
Know as you go
I am right here beside you
Loving you living your choice…
R: Could you talk a little about this song, how it happened?
K: I was riding my bike to go and see my brother.
He was going to Oregon to join, unannounced, an earth-building project.
He studied as an architect but wasn’t fully aligned with their values of privatization and commodification of land, so he quit school to start building with his hands.  
He called me, “I’m leaving tonight.” I said, “Wait till I say goodbye.”
On the way over, that song just started to come through. I remember finishing the verses later.
The song has served during all kinds of big changes for all kinds of people from births to last breaths. 

MaMuse – listening by the creek

“One Woman’s Prayer” by Karisha
Earthly Mother
Divine Seer that sees
Create me again
Take me in your hands
Bring out what’s inside of me
Guide me in these times
While war is being waged 
On my family…
May I become the woman
I am meant to be
Give me strength 
To keep on walking
Even when I cannot see
And I will carry the torch
From those who have come before
To those who have yet to be
Oh, make me an instrument of song
That I might pass on harmony…
K: This song came before I was in a musical partnership with Sarah. It’s about my own struggle to come out of the chrysalis. How do I do this? Having the strength to be willing to open up to what’s trying to come through.
I was living on a Greek island, Santorini, while the Olympics were being held in Greece. The torch was being passed. You hold your hand behind you and hope you’re open to what’s being passed. To step into that path of music was both scary and exciting.

“Got to Believe” by Sarah
Oh I got stuck in a story, hidden voice hidden name.
Oh I got stuck in a story, nothing left to say.
Oh I got stuck in a story, tender heart no one to blame…
Gonna hold it in my hands, watch it fly away.
Cause this tender heart wants to sing.
Make a song to everything.
You got to believe when no one else is around.
Cause when you believe in yourself, when you believe in yourself, when you believe
you get all the help you need…
“Got to Believe” was written about ten years ago during a time when I thought I’d never write a song again. It was the song I wrote about the fear of not writing a song. I love speaking to this song now, because I’ve been in another period of not writing as much. Just recently I picked up “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, and have committed to a journey with this work as a way to recover and reconnect to my creative process and my artist Self. 
Cause this tender heart wants to sing.
Make a song to everything…
I recently heard Nick Mulvey play live. He shared that he had lost touch with himself and why he plays music. He had to remember, recover that love he has for putting patterns together on his guitar. I too am in a moment of asking myself, “Why do I play music? Why do I love it?” I’ll get back to ya after I finish the Artist’s Way with the answer… or maybe I’ll write another song about it. 

Hard to Handle by Karisha

Hard to handle
Heavy like a stone
I am walking hand in hand
With the most tender thing
I’ve ever known

They say what doesn’t kill you
Makes you stronger
The bitter truth is that
This has…
You came in
Took without asking
Probing and grasping
Left your mark upon my path…

This had been going on
Since the invention of time
Angry hands, broken hearts
Have passed down
This violent crime

And because I understand
I can forgive
So far, I can’t forget
I will not nail you
To the cross

What do I do with this?

I am born to love
Feeling it all
I am born to love
Feeling, feeling
I am born to love
I will feel it all

I am taking back my passion
I was meant to ride it wild and free
Undefended pure devotion
To the most subtle yes and no
In me

They might never understand it

I know it’s not their job
I’ll make it mine
To take good care of
Every little bit that ever
Needs my love…

Hard to handle
Steady I will go
I am walking hand in hand
With the most tender thing
I’ve ever known

K: Some part of me needed to touch into that experience. Seeing where my choice and power are. Some things I can’t change but I can return and respond to myself.

It was really cathartic to play, even the mandolin part.

S: It was hard to play because it was activating for both of us. We performed it only twice and then people requested it. That song was the one most played on the radio.

K: There’s a way of grappling with the abuse. It doesn’t just begin with the perpetrator. How can I use this experience to evolve so I “Feel it all…” I aim for that but don’t always get there. “Turns out I’m a learner!” is currently a favorite phrase of mine.

Mamuse generously shares their music, 9 albums to date, on their site. You’ll also find all the lyrics, YouTube videos, personalized songs, and more. It’s a musical treasure trove!

MaMuse’s 5-minute video, “Prayers for Freedom,” beautifully illustrates their values in action and how they are realizing collective healing through their music: https://youtu.be/qTQxsAXCa5M

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Photo by Richard Simon

Beaver Island

Today at least one hundred swans,
one hundred, at least, floating free
on the ice-cold river, their necks —
curved and snowy elegance — 
dip their heads and carroty beaks
through the quick-changing light 
skimming the skin of water soon 
to be starlit, the slim sliver of moon 
a partner to the crystalline.
Nearby, a man in camouflage
walks with his back bent to the shore, 
sweeps a detector for coins.
He carries a shovel in case
what he needs isn’t obvious,
isn’t right in front of his eyes.
But I tell you and tell you again:

Today there are one hundred swans,
one hundred, at least, floating free.
I see them in the heart of day.
Their wings are holy fans of light.
Fish and feathers measure their warmth.
Hope will never come to an end
with this world so luminous, our breath 
rising naturally to nested trees.

Katherine Hastings from A Different Beauty, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2022), and from the anthology, The Freedom of New Beginnings: Poems of Witness and Vision from Sonoma County, California.

Mamos puja – taking the effigies to be burned          Photo by Diane Barker


Donations for the Earth and Mamos Puja

A friend in London made this appeal: 

Given the dire message just days ago in the press…



…I wanted to remind everyone that as well as prayers and focus at the time the Mamos Puja takes place, even the tiniest financial contribution to the Puja adds up for when it happens this June. This means more monks can participate (they have to be watered, housed, and fed) which helps the Puja gather momentum.

Please tell your friends as well! Tell the ones who value the power of prayer and those who value and fear for our precious Mother Earth ~ anyone you can think of. Please spread the word. 

Here is the link to donate:https://dianebarker.net/mamos.php

A full description of this event is in February’s Earth-Love Newsletter.
Also, contributing sooner than later means the Rinpoche organizing this will be alerted to calling for more monks.

In consternation and with love for the Earth,


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