Celebrating Women Through Song: The Goddess Suite

The Goddess Suite - 2010

What: An Evening of Celebrating Women, including a performance of   The Goddess Suite, an original choral work by singer-songwriter and environmental educator Cynthia Rylander Crossen. Suggested donation of $7 (children under 12 free) to benefit local, regional, and global charities.
Download free MP3s of The Goddess Suite here.

When and Where:

Who: Cynthia Crossen and Hope Wilder (Cynthia's daughter-in-law), of the Community Music Project, have assembled instrumentalists and a chorus of women 40-strong, to perform The Goddess Suite, with singer-songwriter and musical educator Sheila Fleming as conductor. Other acts in the program will include music, storytelling, and original dance.

Why: We have come together to experience and share the joy of celebrating womanhood through song, spoken word, and dance. To honor each of the seven goddesses of whom we sing, 100% of the proceeds from our performances will go to support local, regional, and global charities that embody attributes of these Greek goddesses.

Charities We've Chosen to Embody Goddesses in the World

For Artemis, goddess of nature, protector of wild places, who helps girls grow to women, we have selected the Haw River Assembly (regional), which promotes environmental education, conservation and pollution prevention; speaks as a voice for the river in the public arena; and teaches people to be effective guardians of the river.

For Hera, queen of Heaven, goddess of marriage and mothering, whose breast milk mythically created the Milky Way, we have selected La Leche League (local and international) for its mission of helping mothers to bond with and nurture their babies, promoting breastfeeding locally and around the world.

For Demeter, goddess of fertility, nurturing young children, and motherhood, we have chosen Chatham County Together (local), which encourages "at risk" youth to become healthy, self-sufficient adults by fostering positive mentoring relationships, encouraging academic success, teaching valuable skills, and offering family advocacy and support.

To honor Persephone, queen of the underworld, victim of kidnapping and forced marriage, we have chosen Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center (local), which promotes peaceful homes by combating domestic violence and sexual assault in Chatham County, NC.

For Hestia, goddess of the homeplace, keeper of the sacred hearth, we are supporting Women for Women (global), which helps women re-create homes in war-torn countries, providing daily support in crisis situations as well as long-term job skills and emotional support.

For Aphrodite, goddess of sexuality, romance, and the transforming power of love, we have chosen Planned Parenthood Central NC (regional), which promotes a common sense, comprehensive approach to reproductive health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sexuality, and family planning.

To celebrate Athena, goddess of wisdom and justice, we are benefiting FINCA (global), which provides micro-loans for women entrepreneurs, empowering women to create new businesses, leading to financial independence and increased prosperity.

Goddess Suite Performance Schedules

Saturday June 19, 7 pm, at the Forest Theater, ( Map), Chapel Hill:
Sunday June 20, 7 pm, at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Durham:
Saturday June 26, 7 pm, at Northwood High School Auditorium, Pittsboro:
Sunday June 27, 7 pm, at the Forest Theater, ( Map), Chapel Hill:

Description of The Goddess Suite Project

The Goddess Suite is a choral work for women's voices, with piano, two flutes, cello, and drum accompaniment.  Composed by Chatham singer-songwriter Cynthia Crossen in 1986, it was performed in 1986 and 1987 at various venues in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and Chatham County.

The Goddess Suite celebrates aspects of womanhood in six choral pieces about seven Greek Goddesses.  Inspired by Jean Shinoda Bolen's book Goddesses in Everywoman, it honors women's strengths by singing of Artemis's courage and attunement with nature, Demeter's steadfast and fierce motherly love, Persephone's initiation into life's challenges and responsibilities, the transforming power of Aphrodite's love, Hestia's hearth-tending and spiritual centeredness, Hera's far-seeing wisdom, and Athena's crusade for a better world.

The Goddess Suite performances celebrate women in a unique and inspiring way. The composer, conductor, chorus members, and instrumentalists are women. Other participating artists will share their unique feminine-celebratory vision. We hope to reach a wide audience of women, men, and young people with these strong, vibrant, female archetypal “super-heroes”. We especially want to inspire creativity and musical ambition in young girls, teenage girls, and young women. We hope that for both performers and audience, experiencing the Goddess Suite will be deeply moving, inspiring, and meaningful.

You can listen to the Goddess Suite by downloading the .mp3s free of charge from The Community Music Project. You can also read the lyrics here.

Bio for Goddess Suite Composer Cynthia Rylander Crossen

Cynthia Rylander Crossen writes songs about the deepest truths she knows. The purpose of her music is to heal, to bring us together in love, to build bridges between us, to create and strengthen community, to celebrate and give thanks, and to remind us of our connection with the earth.

Cynthia has performed her songs since the mid-1970’s, with various musical friends and as part of Silkworm, Pomegranate Rose, the Earthquackers (environmental education musical theater for children), and currently with Stellaria (Cynthia, Lea Clayton, and Hope Wilder). In 1986 she composed, recorded, and produced six performances of The Goddess Suite, a choral work for women’s voices, flute, cello, and piano, about the Greek goddesses.

Cynthia shares her music at coffeehouses, benefits, schools, churches, summer camps, environmental education festivals for the Haw and Rocky rivers, multiracial celebrations, old folks homes, peace rallies, Earth Days, women’s gatherings, hospitals, and wherever she goes. Her songs have been published in Songs For Earthlings by Julie Forest Middleton, used in a curriculum for girls, included in church songbooks, sung at many weddings and funerals, and performed by choirs in Vermont, Alaska, and locally. For twelve years Cynthia led a monthly women’s singing workshop, and now offers a monthly musical open house with her daughter-in-law Hope Wilder. She has produced numerous teaching tapes and songbooks, recorded two tapes with Pomegranate Rose, and is a featured artist of the Community Music Project. She created the CD Feel This Love, which is being distributed free as part of the Community Music Project.

Bio for Goddess Suite Conductor Sheila Fleming

Educator, songwriter and guitarist Sheila Fleming has been making music all the days of her life. From the cornfields of Iowa, and all along the banks of the Mississippi, Sheila’s lyrical voice and sweet, soulful songs have been heard in classrooms, conferences, coffee houses, and concert halls throughout the Midwest. Now living in rural Chatham county in North Carolina, Sheila is charming Triangle audiences with thoughtfully-written songs that will capture your heart and make you appreciate the broad musical palette from where her music originates.

Sheila is that rare combination of talents – a dynamic teacher, a superlative singer, an accomplished guitarist, and an extraordinary songwriter. A finalist in both the Triangle Folk Music Society’s Songwriting Contest (1998) and the NC Songwriters Cooperative Songwriters Contest (1999), she is releasing her debut solo CD “Circles”. Sheila currently performs with the folk/swing trio Trilogy in addition to her solo performances. She has twice been selected as Teacher of the Year in her thirteen years of teaching in North Carolina, and currently teaches music in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District. Sheila also presents workshops and clinics to educators and musicians throughout North Carolina.

Goddess Suite Producers

The Goddess Suite is being produced by Cynthia Crossen and Hope Wilder.

Contact Phone Numbers: 919-542-3827 (home); 919-967-2500 (office)

Email: Cynthia: ; Hope:

Organization: Community Music Project, 1116 Marshall Road, Pittsboro, NC 27312. The Community Music Project is rooted in the rich, creative, and vibrant soil of the Carrboro/Chapel Hill/Chatham County North Carolina community. Its goal is to highlight the grassroots musicians of our own community, broadcasting the voices of our community to enrich and enliven the wider community, especially the talented voices that might otherwise not be heard—singer-songwriters who have not recorded CD’s on their own, gospel singers in the folk tradition, folk singers from Russian and South American traditions, and community choruses. For more information, and to download our music and CD art, visit The Community Music Project website at http://communitymusicproject.org.

To Be Notified of Goddess Suite Performances

Contact Cynthia Crossen, , to receive email notifications of The Goddess Suite performances. Please put “Goddess Suite List” in the subject line. Thank you for your interest!