One night in 2019, I gave in and let Philadelphia make my plans for me. Back when my biggest fear wasn’t a virus covered door handle, but if my leather jacket alone could sustain warmth wherever I’d end up. I made it to the second floor of Johnny Brenda’s where I watched one of the most grounding performances I had ever seen by composer Nina Keith.
Keith was an unfamiliar artist at the time, but over the course of the pandemic her music has comforted me. It just gets me out of my head, it’s something that I think we could all use right now, eleven months into a pandemic with fingers crossed for a ShopRite vaccine appointment.
As public service, I’m making Keith’s instrumental track “In The Woods We Both Saw It, Weren’t Dreaming” from her debut album MARANASATI 19111 this week’s Philly Song of the Week. I’m prescribing it to help you.
The album MARANASATI 19111 is “set in the woods, hospitals, and churches of Northeast Philadelphia.” If you look at the track list, and you grew up in the Northeast or the 19111 (yes, the album title is nodding the Fox Chase / Lawndale area) you would know. Even without lyrics, Keith layers of cyclical piano pieces, electronics, and sounds of nature can communicate the freedom of impermanence, just as the Buddhist act of Maranasati, being mindful of our own impermanence of our own life, teaches.
Keith scored the live stream of the count of the mail-in ballots by the Philadelphia City Commissioners’ office for the 2020 election. So whether Keith is reminding me of the impermanence of my before and now pandemic lives or making an anxiety inducing election soothing and watchable, I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Each week, the Philly Plain Dealer highlights an artist in the Philly music scene. If you have a favorite song by a Philadelphia artist, submit it by tweeting to @PlainPhilly.