Song Keeper + Earth Activist
Bethany Yarrow sings music of power and praise. She is a song keeper, earth activist, and student of the spiritual traditions of the Americas. With a living prayer for unity at the heart of her music, she uses her voice to help protect the land & water and build community & collaborative solutions to address the existential threats of our time.
For the past several years, Bethany has devoted herself to translating a song cycle of traditional music for the Orixás, the great pantheon of Afro-Brazilian deities that embody the forces of nature. Born in Brazil from the meeting of African archetypes, indigenous cosmologies and Judeo-Christian beliefs, the songs are invocations and portals that unfold into beautiful pools of devotion and celebration. They call on the healing forces of the wind, water, forest, fire, mineral and animal kingdoms; the angels and the Holy Mother; the White Moon, the Golden Sun, and all the guardians of sacred knowledge. In creating singable translations that capture both the poetry and precise symbolism of the original Portuguese, the songs build bridge of understanding and deeper reverence for these forces of nature, as well as the extraordinary cultures that birthed them.
Bethany is also deeply involved with land & water protection and building collaborative solutions to the climate crisis and existential threats of our time. "Music and activism have always gone hand in hand in my life -- like an ethical, moral, spiritual and sonic compass encoded into my DNA," says Bethany.
"Singing these songs have kept me hopeful in these times, says Bethany. "It is a balm to my soul as well as a kind of spiritual activism. We are a species in crisis. The task for all of us is to reconnect with our basic humanity and respect for the Earth that gives us life."
In 2014, Bethany co-organized the Black Hills Unity Concert which advocated for the protection of sacred sites and the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nations. In 2015 she co-founded the Waterfall Unity Alliance, an alliance of New York activists and traditional Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) leaders which successfully helped to stop the Constitution Pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects in New York State. The Waterfall Unity Alliance continues to work on community supported reparations and landback projects in the Schoharie Valley. Bethany also serves on the advisory board for the Center For Earth Ethics.
Both musically and in her activism, Bethany carries on a family legacy. Her father is Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary; and her mother's uncle was the great peace activist and politician Eugene McCarthy from Minnesota. Bethany was raised surrounded not only by music, but also deeply influenced by the visionary changemakers she met in her childhood. "I grew up going with my parents to rallies and events, inspired by grassroots activists who believed that righting wrongs and helping to create a more peaceful and just world was an essential part of being human."