I was born to a creative and musical family. My mother, Judith Ansara, is a life artist, poet, dancer, sculptor, teacher. My father, Robert Gass, is a well-known New Age musician and one of first Westerners to popularize sacred Eastern chant in the US, having released 22 musical albums.
As a child, we toured across the country in a rainbow school bus with my father’s choral group, On Wings of Songs, which performed at conferences and spiritual centers. At home, my parents sang us songs they wrote for waking up and going to bed. We sang to bless our food and my dad never missed an opportunity to take out his guitar for sing-a-longs.
Among our highest family values were those of spiritual and personal growth, engaging in positive loving relationships, and being of service to the world.
Growing up, I studied classical piano and pop performance vocals, and I regularly joined my father in the studio to sing on and help produce his albums. I began playing guitar and writing music at the age of 13 as a way to cope with the unique challenges of being a teen.
Despite my introverted nature, I began performing at local coffeehouses and showcases. I began to receive a lot of attention for performing, so I continued along that path. At 21, after leaving college, I released my first studio album, “Within Without,” moved to San Francisco, and began touring throughout the country.
MY HEALTH GOES KABLOOEY!
By the time I released my 2004 EP, “Bone by Bone,” and opened a big show for my early hero, Shawn Colvin, I had worn my health into the ground. Sensitive, reclusive and easily-overstimulated by nature, I hadn’t realized just how much I had been overriding my body by performing and touring until it gave out.
When I quit performing at 25, I had chronic nerve pain in my arm and hand, intense anxiety, and had developed an overwhelming sensitivity to noise, for which constantly wearing earplugs only barely helped me calm down and get by. I swore off performing and could hardly leave the house. My world got smaller and smaller and I became rigid with fear at the thought of performing again.
I was utterly depleted and I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to function in the world.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
During this period, I met an amazing human being, Michael Hynes, who offered to produce an album with me at his studio in Austin, TX. It was a magical experience of musical synergy and the resulting album, “Danya River,” was released in 2011.
Around that time, I began receiving and becoming a practitioner of Somatic Experiencing (SE), a profound, body-based trauma resolution modality that completely changed my life. I was able to recalibrate my nervous system so that I was finally able to live without ear plugs, leave the house without dreading it, and overcome the challenges that had emerged from my touring career.
I have since become a Somatic Experiencing trauma-resolution specialist, helping others overcome anxiety, trauma and overwhelm and find their way to more full and enjoyable lives.
- I’m finding that I love making music again, in the studio, where I have always felt most at ease. I am excited to share recordings that make a difference in people’s lives.
- I’m not so worried about putting on a “show” for the public. I know that it is essential that I just be ME and not some made-up, ultra polished, “put on” version of myself. I love knowing that I don’t need to perform to share my gifts with the world.
- I sing with a local Threshold Choir at the bedside of people just before they pass from this world. We use our voices to hold a loving vigil for them, their families and caregivers in the most tender of moments.
I am grateful for every step of the journey that brought me here and for every loving soul who has befriended me, loved me, held me, supported and encouraged me along the way. THANK YOU!