is a musical audiobook based on Afrodiasporic mythology and Buddhist psychology. This illustrated fairytale tells the story of River, an enchanted young woman whose tears bring music to life. As she embarks on a magical search to end her sadness, River must look to the natural world for the wisdom to face her darkest fears.
Written & Performed by Sparlha Swa.
Illustrated by Opie Snow.
~ 13 chapters and songs presented as slideshow ‘movies’. View at your own pace. 124 minutes total. Click for trailer.
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Meet the characters
It is a strange sort of magic, one she wishes she didn't possess, but every time River cries, music arises seemingly from nowhere. River is a lonely brown girl plagued by sadness who longs more than anything to be happy.
Olorun, the Sun
One of River's few friends, Olorun, bright and smiling, sometimes sails down from the sky to visit her little house by the sea. If anyone holds knowledge of the ways of magic, if anyone knows how to cure sadness, it will be him. Or so River hopes.
The dark thing in the corner. The shape standing just behind you. The Shadow is a mysterious creature that River never knew existed until now. She wonders why it has appeared, why it is following her, and what it really wants.
Singularly the most gorgeous young man River has ever seen, with dark brown skin and a smile that makes her insides melt, Chango is such a dream, she's not sure he's really real.
Stunningly beautiful and devastatingly terrifying, the Mermaid sleeps in the deepest and darkest of places, waiting to be discovered.
Chupwa the Moon
Of all the magical beings in the world, only Chupwa, the Moon, refuses to speak to River or even acknowledge her existence. What a cold and haughty Queen!
Creators & Credits
Songwriter & Author: Sparlha Swa
Sparlha Swa is a psychotherapist and singer-song writer. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, she scored the award-winning feature film Pariah, played a lead role in the lauded musical Fela! off-B'way, has released four albums, and toured solo around the world. A psychotherapist (LMFT 86265) in private practice in Berkeley CA, Sparlha currently sings in a vocal harmony group called Three Bells. She is ever grateful for many life lines to spirit including Buddhism, Ifa, meditation and nature, and for the sweet refuge of her beloved family.
Illustrator & Web Designer: Opie Snow
Opie Snow is an artist, designer and mother. Raised on flower nectar and honey comb, Opie has a way with paintbrushes, shapes and paradox. She lives and breathes bicoastally; from the rich, deep forests of Oregon to the chaotic, urban vitality of Brooklyn. She has a shy woman box. She blasts holes in it with pigment and canvas; with brush and paint; with sewing machine and the power of stitch and seam; with website weaving and graphics. She pulls beauty and unearthly darkness together, twining them until the one is indistinguishable from the other.
Producer: Jesse Olsen Bay
Jesse Olsen Bay (music website) is a composer and performer who lives just north of the San Francisco Bay. At home in a wide variety of musical forms and styles, he creates aural landscapes and narratives that explore the depths and extremities of the human experience. Ranging from art-songs and folk ballads to instrumental music for dance and film, from soundscape collage to experimental performance art, his music is always rooted in a search for meaning, truth, human connection and honest communication.
Sound Designer: Shree Shyam Das
Shree Shyam Das (adifferenttrip.com) is a musician and wordsmith. As a writer and editor, he has contributed to a long list of publications, including Rolling Stone, Vibe, Premier Guitar, Electronic Musician, and Keyboard. His travels as a composer, producer, percussionist, and Grammy-nominated bassist have taken him to five continents for adventures with the California Shakespeare Theater, ALO, Jai Uttal, Hamid Drake, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Karnamrta Dasi, the New Pickle Circus, and many others. He is currently a senior editor at Bass Player.
Jesse Olsen Bay – Acoustic and electric guitar, electric and upright bass, keyboards, piano, drums, percussion, accordion, glockenspiel
Roger Riedlbauer – electric guitar on 2, 3, 6, 7, 11
Maxwell Church – trombone on 6, 8, 11
Michael Margulis – trumpet on 6, 10, 11
Jesse Shantor – alto saxophone on 10, 11
Sparlha Swa - guitar on 3, 4
Sandy Perez - bata drums on 1
Tobiah Gaster - bata drums on 1
Bob LaDue - bata drums on 1
Shree Shyam Das - bass on 3
Allison ? - flute on 3
Naima Penniman – poetry on 10
Dawn Swaby Ellis
Paul Kivel and Micki Luckey
Janet Linder and Elena Moser
Ginger and Stu Polisner
Sue Ellen Wise