The Peace Ensemble plays music for the soul

Greta Bro and Stan Strickland. — Courtesy West Tisbury library

The all-star lineup of musicians who will be performing at the West Tisbury library on Saturday, Jan. 14, will be offering far more than a concert by world-class musicians. According to a press release, the Boston-based group the Peace Ensemble “seek to uplift people and help transform culture through their soulful explorations of music.” Band leader Greta Bro explains the mission of the four-member ensemble, saying, “We’re basically a group of musicians who believe in the power of sound to lead people into a new awareness. Music is a very powerful facilitator for the opening of a collective experience — opening doorways of perception and taking people on a journey.”

Don’t let that description fool you into thinking that the Peace Ensemble is just about a therapeutic experience. With a blend of popular tunes by the likes of Stevie Wonder and others, with vocal and instrumental improvisational soundscapes, sacred jazz, and original compositions that draw on Brazilian and Latin grooves, Afropop, and world soul, the concerts are joyful, audience-rousing experiences that tend to leave people uplifted — and may even induce dancing.

The concert will bring four musicians with some very impressive credentials to Island audiences. Saxophonist Stan Strickland has entertained audiences throughout the world, and has performed with the Boston Pops, Herbie Mann, Yusef Lateef, and more.

Pianist John McDowell achieved worldwide recognition with his soundtrack to the Academy awardwinning documentary “Born into Brothels.” He performs with his own world music band, and has toured and recorded with Sting, Rusted Root, and Krishna Das. McDowell, who brings a world music influence to the Peace Ensemble, is the music director and arranger for Tibetan singer Ani Choying. 

Bruce Gertz was named Outstanding Bassist by the Boston Music Awards. Along with his vast performing experience with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Cab Calloway, Maynard Ferguson, and Count Basie, Gertz has enjoyed an extensive career as an educator, earning him multiple awards for his work in music education. He currently serves as a professor of bass at the famed Berklee College of Music, a position he has held since 1976.

Singer-songwriter Greta Bro has performed across the U.S., Europe, and Brazil, bringing her unique compositions that draw on inspirational music from around the world, such as bossa nova, Latin, reggae, and world pop. Bro describes her style as popular music. Her CD “Love’s Song” has been enthusiastically received by audiences across the U.S., Brazil, Sweden, and France, and earned her praise by critics who have written very positively about her music and her voice, which has been described as sincere and soulful. The Boston Herald’s Larry Katz called her singing, “A voice that will touch you deep inside.”

Along with her performance and recording history, Bro has long pursued various areas of music therapy and empowerment. All of the aspects of her background have led her to her current work in the healing arts. Among other things, she leads seminars in the healing properties of sound and music.

On her website, Bro describes herself as “a psycho-spiritual teacher, depth psychologist, pioneer in women’s spirituality, spiritual midwife, vibrational healer, sound healer, writer, poet, singer/songwriter and performing artist.’” She earned a master’s degree from Lesley University in Cambridge in expressive arts therapy and counseling psychology, and she, along with her longtime friend and collaborator Strickland, currently works in music therapy. She says, “I believe in the power of sound to go into a new awareness. It’s a powerful facilitator for the opening of a collective heart space. I work with sound to take people on a journey into themselves, opening doorways of perception.”

Bro and the other group members see the Peace Ensemble’s music as a means to encourage unity and awareness: “We want to help people go into that collective opening of hearts. It’s conscious music. My lyrics explore the human condition.” All of the members bring their own perspective to the group. 

“In these times of accelerated change, we’re all on a journey,” says Bro. “Music is a great facilitator for transformation. We want to give people a chance to reflect through music and recognize our shared humanity.” 

The Peace Ensemble will perform at the West Tisbury library on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3:30 pm.