The Naked Voice - how sound can change the world

The beauty of shared sound and song is that it is free. Everyone can do it, and it helps us to build self-esteem and dissolve friction. It also helps us to generate forgiveness and healing, happiness, and self-knowledge. Singing from the heart – whether in the shower, the car or elsewhere -  ignites an aliveness that awakens the energies of love. And its presence can have a surprising and unexpected impact. Your authentic voice is a transformative conduit for spirit. Used consciously and compassionately it has the power to awaken, empower, and transform your life as well as those around you. I call this authentic voice your ‘naked voice’.

The cultural historian Thomas Berry once wrote that ‘to attain peace among the nations in any dynamic or enduring form requires not simply political negotiation, but a new mode of consciousness. The magnitude of this change is in the order of a religious awakening or a spiritual rebirth … A change is needed in every phase of human life’.

Humanity is indeed being compelled to awaken to this ‘new mode of consciousness’ and with it an all-inclusive awareness that we can no longer afford to ignore. I am set on uncovering how these new modes of consciousness can be heard and accessed through the sung voice. We can no longer afford to perceive or identify ourselves as separate individuals, identified and divided by culture, politics, religion, dogma, or creed.

‘Sound’ says Edgar Cayce, ‘is the medicine of the future’. As humanity faces this crisis of spirit, the soul of the world is in great danger. However your naked voice equips you with a language prior to religion, politics, or the law. Your naked voice is the wellspring of your spirit. It offers you a way of listening, communicating, and being that is older and deeper than the polarity of all conflict, and that includes the fear of death. It offers a language of consciousness.

A remarkable vocal music phenomenon has been occurring around the planet over the last several decades since the Beatles visited India. Voices have emerged inspired by African rhythm, the Afro-American tribal harmonies of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the haunting beauty of Georgian Table Mountain chants and East European acapella, the mythical microtonality of Asian raga, and the unearthly overtones of Mongolian mantra, the mesmerizing melodies of Celtic folk, and the contemporary sacred choral music of John Tavener, and Morten Lauridsen. The cross-fertilization of all kinds of folk, jazz, ethnic, pop rock, and classical choral music has been unstoppable, spreading like wildfire through local community projects, city streets, and recording studios, snowballing and bursting into moving choral voice projects on TV such as The Choir and X Factor.

Underneath all this collective singing frenzy, an increasing number of people are calling out for a new myth to share and give new voice to, one that redefines our true role as humans, awakening us to the sacred task of living more authentically, consciously, reverently, and responsibly in this interconnected universe. As we move through the devastating impact and terrifying uncertainties of climate change, energy depletion, world poverty, and the horrors of fundamentalism, a radical awareness is called for to transform our relationship with ourselves and each other.

This must no longer be an intellectual ideal but a direct embodied reality, rooted in a direct experience of our undivided wholeness. Your sound and naked voice skills offer a bridge from an old outworn ancestral state of insecurity into a new state of inner security that, with practice, dissolves all our debilitating fear.


Having just begun to introduce The Naked Voice Singing Field practices in Chile, I have started to engage with another musical force d’esprit. Demonstrating the transformative power of collective music-making in South America, El Sistemo is a classical music tour de force founded by the economist, musician, and orchestral conductor Jose Abreu. It all started a few decades ago when the visionary Abreu had a dream in which all Venezuelan children would have the same musical experience as he had.

To the first eleven children who turned up to Jose’s first music rehearsal, he made a promise then that he would turn the orchestras into one of the leading orchestras in the world. He committed to liberating the arts, and music especially, in Latin America from being a monopoly of elites into a human right for all people. In the organization of El Sistemo there exist no class distinctions. It was quite simple: if you have the vocation and the talent and the will you are taken on board and given the greatest opportunity, which is to move people’s souls, and be moved in your soul by music.

The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela did just that, and then as they began to travel they started to move people in their deepest souls in Europe, with standing ovations at all the concerts. As Jose says in the film El Sistemo: ‘This was not only an artistic triumph, but also a profound emotional sympathy between the public of the most advanced nations of the world and the musical youth of Venezuela, giving these audiences a message of music, vitality, energy, enthusiasm, and strength’.

Where Jose Abreu’s vision fuses with the Singing Field of The Naked Voice is when he describes their musical community as follows: ‘The orchestra and the choir are much more that artistic structures. They are examples and schools of social life, because to sing and to play together means to intimately coexist toward perfection and excellence’. In order to seek and reach harmonic interdependence of voices and instruments, they had to follow a strict discipline of organization and coordination. That is how they built a spirit of solidarity and fraternity among them, developing their self-esteem, and fostering ethical and aesthetic values related to music in all senses, on all levels. Jose designed El Sistemo in three fundamental circles.

1) Personal transformative impact

The children are in orchestras and choirs, where they develop their intellectual and emotional sides. There, the music becomes a source for developing dimensions of the human being that elevates the spirit and leads the individual to a full development of their personality. The emotional and intellectual profits include the acquisition of leadership, teaching, and training principles; a sense of commitment and responsibility, generosity and dedication to others; and an individual contribution to achieving great collective goals. All this leads to the development of self-esteem and confidence.

2) Family transformative impact

The parents’ support for their children is unconditional. And the child becomes a role model for the parents. This, says Jose Abreu, is very important for a poor child. For once she discovers that she is important in the family, she begins to seek out new ways to improve herself and raises positive hopes for herself and her community too. She also starts to build social and economic aspirations to improve their family’s situation. All this creates a constructive and ascending social dynamic. A large number of children, after all, are part of the most vulnerable strata of the Venezuelan population. This evolution of their situation encourages them to embrace and progress through the various opportunities that the musical education offers.

3) The Community Transformative Impact

The orchestras and choirs prove to be creative spaces of culture and sources of exchange for life to take on a whole new meaning. The spontaneous nature of the music excludes it from being a luxury item and rather creates a harmonious, integrated new human field or society. ‘It is what makes a child play a violin at home while his father works on his carpentry. It is what makes a girl play clarinet at home, while her mother does the housework. The idea is that the families join in with pride and joy in their children’s music and in the activities of the orchestra and the choir to which their children belong’  Abreu says.

Through El Sistemo Jose Abreu has confirmed his vision that once you teach a child a musical instrument they are no longer ‘poor’. He becomes a someone who is progressing towards a level of professionalism as a true respected citizen.

A few years ago the educationalist visionary and writer Arnold Toynbee said that the world is suffering a huge spiritual crisis. Not an economic or a social crisis, but a spiritual one. I join Toynbee and Jose Abreu in their essential insight that to confront this crisis, only art and new spirituality can give authentic answers to the historic demands of our time. Music offers a quality of education that unifies wisdom and knowledge and provides the means for us all to strive for a more aware, more noble, and just society. Music especially invites the open generous promotion of true values for our young people.

Jose Abreu made his vision abundantly clear at a TED conference not long ago where he said:

‘May we build a new era in the teaching of music in which the social, communal, spiritual, and vindicatory aims of the child and the adolescent become a beacon and a goal for a vast social mission. [A mission that] no longer puts society at the service of art, and much less at the service of the monopolies of the elite, but instead art (ie. music) at the service of society, at the service of the weakest, at the service of the children, at the service of the sick, at the service of the vulnerable, at the service of all who cry for vindication through the spirit of their human condition, and the raising up of their dignity’.

Through this groundbreaking music program several hundreds of thousands of children from the poorest areas of Venezuela have now been empowered to overcome poverty through music-making. Many of them move on to perform with some of the world’s greatest orchestral conductors, whose astonished ears cannot believe the impeccable precision and high level of performance these children are capable of. Many of those starting are so young that their feet can’t yet even touch the ground as they sit to play their musical instrument!

So the ‘new mode of consciousness’ that you and I and the world community are being called to requires every man, woman, and child to wake up and share responsibility for restoring and unifying our diversity into our original song of oneness. Time is of the essence.

Chloë Goodchild is an international singer and innovatory educator. She is the founder of The Naked Voice and its UK Charitable Foundation, dedicated to the transforming practice of  self-awareness and conscious communication skills, through spoken and sung voice.

Chloë works internationally, demonstrating  the power of sound and voice to transform the ways in which we listen to ourselves and each other. Chloe awakens the listeners’ heart with recurring melodies, world chant, anthems, love songs and poetry, interweaving them with her wild stories and much laughter.