Ancestra - Singing heart-centered spirited songs
Two of the three singers in the a cappella group, Ancestra, are Kathryn Ripp and Carol Harm, both of Unity of Madison. Together with Lauranne Bailey since 2003, the trio has shared their songs of spiritual journeys, relationships, cycles of life, steamy humor and holiday cheer throughout the Madison area and at many Unity services.
They've crafted their life visions into songs that speak to the many aspects of life that challenge us as we walk in a sometimes less than perfect world. The women take seriously their craft of weaving harmonies into tense dissonance and resolving into resonance that can heal the heart. They assure us with their lyrics that we are truly human, and our spirits can fly, flop, or flourish, depending on any given moment presented.
And in the end, we can smile, or shed or tear, or feel our heart space crack wide open. Their music rings true to be kinder to ourselves, one another—living the heart of compassion.
Two of Ancestra's CDs are available for purchase in the church bookstore, our newest from 2015: Three Hearts, One Dream.
We sing at Unity Sunday services on a regular basis. Also, please check our website for outside concert dates: Ancestra.org
Unity Jazz Band
The Unity Jazz Band was formed during Roger Goodwin’s tenure as minister back in the early 90s. Mark Raeder was involved at that time and played violin in the band. Roger was the drummer. Back in the 90s, Unity of Madison used to have an annual Talent Show. In 1996, Steve Roberts, pianist, performed a piece of ragtime music for that show. Afterwards, Roger approached him and said that the Jazz Band needed a piano player and would Steve be interested in joining. He said yes and 20 years later remains a member.
Many people have come and gone from the band over the years. In the 90s, Mark Raeder was the leader of the band, but work obligations increasingly demanded his attention, and the leadership role switched to Steve Roberts. Sam Cooke played guitar with the Jazz Band for several years during this time. Many different bass players and drummers have played with the band over the years. After Rev. Roger Goodwin left Madison, Kenny Kepler played drums for a long time with the band. Bill Beckman joined as the bass player, probably in 1998, and Bill Roberts joined as guitarist the next year. Sheri Pittman became the vocalist in 2001. Tim Gould, saxophone, also joined around this time. Pete Calgaro, Unity Music Director, joined the band as its drummer in 2011.
In the early 2000s, the Jazz Band would take hymns from the Unity hymnal and give them jazz harmonizations and treatment. Over the years this has evolved to performing original material, most of which is written by Sheri and Steve.
The Jazz Band performs at Unity services on the third Sunday of every month, September through May. Although Bill Roberts, guitar, and Tim Gould, saxophone, are professional musicians, the Jazz Band does not perform anywhere except at Unity of Madison.
The Unichicks quintet favors acoustic and a cappella arrangements of folk/indie-folk music and cover everything from Indigo Girls to The Wailin Jennys, Mindy Smith and old gospels. First and foremost, they are friends -- who spend as much of their rehearsal time laughing as they do honing their harmonies.
The original group consisting of Carol Harm, Connie Anderson, Ronna Trapanese and Kathryn Ripp, formed in 1999 while they were camping together at Governor Dodge State Park. They hiked into a canyon where they were enjoying the natural acoustics by sharing some chants and adding vocal harmonies. Before they knew it, small groups of people had begun gathering to listen…and the rest is, as they say, history.
Currently, the Unichicks are Carol, Connie, and Ronna, with Linda Tyllo and Aine Calgaro rounding out the mix. Much gratitude goes to alumni members: Kathryn Ripp and Carrie "Shanti" Norman.
Indra Adhira was formed in 2013 at Unity of Madison after Music Director Pete Calgaro called for musicians to join him for a special Sunday of Kirtan music during the services. Aine Calgaro. Kathryn Ripp, Steve Tortorice, Ross Meyers and Rich Stanek answered the call. The Kirtan music was so well received that they decided to do a full evening Kirtan a couple of months later.
What started as the Unity Kirtan Band, became Indra Adhira. Indra being the god of thunder (and a name given to Pete by MaaShakti Das) and Adhira meaning "lightning" in Sanskrit. So "Thunder and Lightning" is what the words mean. Joe Dieter was added a couple of Kirtans later in 2014. Kirtan is a practice of call-and-response chanting in Sanskrit.
Indra Adhira performs about 4 times a year at Unity. In addition we have done house Kirtans and Kirtans at Yoga studios. We are not tied to any one location.