ARTISTRY

Birdland Jazz Club, New York, NY, 2019

CLASSICAL –
VOCAL ARTS

Music has surrounded Rondi Charleston her entire life. Her mother was a renowned soprano and voice teacher in the Chicago music scene of her time, specializing in contemporary and classical music. Her father, an English professor, was also a die-hard jazz aficionado who immersed Rondi and her brother Erik (an in-demand New York City percussionist) in the musical traditions of Jazz from an early age.

Rondi with her brother, Erik Charlston.

Rondi, as Poppea, sings “Vaghe Perle”

by Handel's Agrippina

Left: In Love Letters at Eighty-Eights in The Village.
Above: As Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme.

In Love Letters at Eighty-Eights in The Village.

Rondi, as Poppea, sings “Vaghe Perle”

by Handel's Agrippina

As Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme.

Rondi, as Pousette, in Massenet’s Manon.

Accepted into the Drama Division at Juilliard at age 17 by John Houseman, Rondi studied acting in Group 9 for two years, and was then accepted into the voice/opera division, earning her B.M and M.M. in Music. Working steadily in the classical world (opera, oratorio, recital) as a lyric soprano, she spent six wonderful years singing the soubrette roles, such as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Susanna in Le Nozze Di Figaro, Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte, and Adele in Die Fledermaus at regional opera houses in the US. Wishing to expand her horizons, Rondi then took her passion for truth-telling and storytelling to the field of cultural reporting, enrolling in the Graduate School of Journalism at NYU. In a surprise twist, she won an investigative award for breaking a major news story while at NYU and was hired, almost overnight, in 1990 by ABC News.

“Rondi Charleston is in tune with herself and her material and is a joy to hear. She works her way into her listeners hearts and her emotional range is wide. She is utterly delightful! ”

 

— Will Crutchfield, The New York Times

jazz

While at ABC, Rondi managed to continue singing in cabaret and jazz clubs in Greenwich Village. She married Steve Ruchefsky, then lawyer, and currently CEO & Founder of Regel Therapeutics, a gene therapy company. When their daughter Emma was born, in 1997, she fully returned to the music world, honing her Jazz chops with Peter Eldridge of New York Voices.

Rondi went on to sing, write, collaborate and tour with some of the world’s top jazz artists, creating a series of powerful and critically acclaimed jazz albums.

Rondi is committed to nurturing the next generation of singers. With a private voice studio based in New York City, she teaches her vocal technique to students who work on Broadway, film and cabaret. Rondi is also a certified teacher of The Voice Workshop; Somatic Voicework, the Lovetri Method, for Contemporary Commercial Music.

“Rondi Charleston is one of those rare artists for whom a song’s meaning is as important as its melody. Her personal, thought provoking original songs slow the heartbeat and raise the mental senses with a documentarian’s acuity.”

 

— Ken Micallef, Downbeat Magazine

Upper left: The Dakota. Photography courtsey of Andrea Canter.
Upper right: Dizzys, Jazz at Lincoln Center. Photography courtsey of Andrew Lepley.
Lower left: Birdland Jazz Club, New York City.
Lower right:The Dakota. Photography courtsey of Andrea Canter.

The Dakota. Photography courtsey of Andrea Canter.

Birdland Jazz Club, New York City.

Dizzys, Jazz at Lincoln Center. Photography courtsey of Andrew Lepley.

The Dakota. Photography courtsey of Andrea Canter.

 COMPOSER & LYRICIST

In addition to performing, Rondi has dedicated herself to the art and craft of lyric writing and composition. During her first professional gig as a writer on ABC’s PrimeTime Live in 1992, she wrote copy up to the last minute before the live broadcast. At that time, she penned her first original song, Telescope. The response from fellow musicians and critics was overwhelmingly positive and led to a series of collaborations with acclaimed musicians, Fred Hersch, Bruce Barth, Lynne Arriale and Dave Stryker.

As a composer and lyricist, Charleston matches superior musicianship with a unique ability to craft resonant narratives. “I feel that the artist’s job is not only to capture what’s going on in the world around her, but to reflect on what’s going on; to try to make sense out of chaos. Hopefully, I can also entertain, inspire, and leave audiences with a feeling of hope for the future. My challenge is to write music and lyrics that do all three.” She has been meeting the challenge since 2009 in a series of releases on the Motema Music label, revealing new depths as a vocalist, composer and bandleader on Resilience, her latest release.

In addition to performing, Rondi has dedicated herself to the art and craft of lyric writing and composition. During her first professional gig as a writer on ABC’s PrimeTime Live in 1992, she wrote copy up to the last minute before the live broadcast. At that time, she penned her first original song, Telescope. The response from fellow musicians and critics was overwhelmingly positive and led to a series of collaborations with acclaimed musicians, Fred Hersch, Bruce Barth, Lynne Arriale and Dave Stryker.

As a composer and lyricist, Charleston matches superior musicianship with a unique ability to craft resonant narratives. “I feel that the artist’s job is not only to capture what’s going on in the world around her, but to reflect on what’s going on; to try to make sense out of chaos. Hopefully, I can also entertain, inspire, and leave audiences with a feeling of hope for the future. My challenge is to write music and lyrics that do all three.” She has been meeting the challenge since 2009 in a series of releases on the Motema Music label, revealing new depths as a vocalist, composer and bandleader on Resilience, her latest release.

Collaborations continue to this day, as Rondi is currently at work on a full song cycle with composer Fred Hersch, and will be jumping into the recording studio soon!

“That Rondi Charleston is a superb interpreter of everything from Johnny Mercer to Stevie Wonder has been proven time and again over the past dozen years. But her four previous albums have only hinted at what the remarkable Signs Of Life fully reveals: that she is a songwriter whose poetic, narrative, and compositional skills are comparable to such modern masters as Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.”

 

— Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes

ORIGINAL LYRICS & COMPOSITIONS

In My Life 

Motema Music, 2009

Telescope - R. Charleston/Bruce Barth

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston 

A dialogue between mother and daughter

Tell me how the dance began –
between the stars and moons and sun?
About the rings and strings of Jupiter –
of how the galaxies ‘begun’?

Talk to me of gravity –
and how the planets pull through space?
About the fabric of the universe –
and the collisions in this cosmic race?” 


Tell me of the milky way!
About the man inside the moon!
About Copernicus and Galilei –
And how their ideas got – ‘misconstruen!’

And as I go searching for answers,
and reaching for reasons –
reading in darkness,
reeling in mystery,
slowly revealing how little I know… 



Talk to me of fairy tales –
about the Gods of the sea and sky!
About Apollo and Aphrodite’s worlds –
And their adventures of ‘do or die!’

Talk to me of Camelot –
about the Lady of the Lake!
About the true love of Sir Lancelot –
about the battles and lives at stake.



Talk to me of poetry,
and how my imagination flies?
About illusion and reality –
and how it feels to fantasize!

And as I go searching for answers,
and reaching for reasons –
reading in darkness,
reeling in mystery,
slowly revealing how little I know… 



Tell me – how will I ever find my way?
How will I know which path to take?
How will I fit inside this universe?
What if I make some great mistake?

Look into your Telescope –
and tell me what my future holds?
Will I go flying out among the stars –
and solve the mystery of those ‘big black holes?’ 



But while there’s so much that I don’t know,
One thing I do –
A little idea I’ll pass on to you –
You need not a Telescope truly to see –
You can see with your heart, my sweet, 
all that you need. 


©2009 Rondi Charleston

Ancient Steps – R. Charleston/Bruce Barth

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

It’s a push
It’s a tug
It’s a call
It’s a coo
It’s a dive
It’s a rub
It’s a dare, for a fool

It’s the sound of your voice
It’s the cry of a loon
It’s the danger of night
It’s the arc of the moon

It’s the pull of the earth
And the movement of time
It’s the ache in your bones
It’s an ancient rhyme

It’s a story of love
That’s as old as the world
And the cold, open oceans of snow

It’s a glimmer of warmth
Through the ages of ice
It’s the promise of spring in your soul

©2009 Rondi Charleston

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Motema Music, 2009

Dance Of Time- R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

My love, it amazes me,
how we still dance in the sun
Still move in unison
Though we’re no longer young

At times, we lose our rhythm,
and at times, forget the steps
But there’s so much life left
In the sweet duet

Steady swaying,
Subtle turns
A spin, a fall, a climb
We breathe together.
Our souls are intertwined.
We stretch the dance of time.

Once we learned to listen
To the space between the beats
Learned how the mind retreats
Allowed our hearts to meet

So when styles changes
And beauty fades
And the busy world moves on
We’ll still be singing our silent song

Steady swaying
Subtle turns,
A touch, a kiss, a sigh
We breathe together.
Our souls are intertwined.
We stretch the dance of time

© 2009 Rondi Charleston

Your Spirit Lingers – R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale
Two hundred years, two thousand miles
Of sailing ships in single file –
Streaming through course the compass navigates –
Moving at a fever pitch intoxicates –
Dreaming of a better life of possibility.

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning-
Sails on!

We ride the waves, the waves of time
And on each page, a precious line –
Memories of the caravans and wagon wheels-
Memories of the little children heaven steals –
I’m wondring where you found the strength and
What your soul reveals.

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning –
Sails on!

So if you see, and if you hear
A little girl who’s growing near –
Singing songs of hope and curiosity-
Telling tales of brave adventures out at sea –
Maybe she’s the poet you were always meant to be!

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning –
Sails on!

This hunger, this yearning sails on.

@ 2011Rondi Charleston

Land of Galilee – R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Out in the world- in a far off land
Surrounded by layers of stone
I feel the heat of old battlegrounds
Where ancient kings once roamed.
Here is the ground where prophets walked
And tribal wars still rage
Where people sacrifice their souls
For the mysteries of faith.
The streets were quiet – and the morning sky was gray
The doors of houses locked – children tucked away.
But from the East – the faintest desert wind began to blow
And down from heaven floated – light, white powdered snow.
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the Land of Galilee?
And as the snow kept growing higher on the ground
The doors that long were locked – their latches come unbound.
And all the age-old enemies – threw their swords away
And side by side like children – marched outside to play!
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the Land of Galilee?
Soon – mothers/fathers/sisters/brothers – people of all faiths
Their anger melted – and I watched as they embraced
And sounds of joy and fun and laughter slowly filled the air
A festival of love and light – a day so very rare.
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the land of Galilee?
And there was beauty
And there was harmony
In the Land of Galilee.

© 2011 Rondi Charleston

Song for The Ages – R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Written for the Inauguration of Barack Obama 2008

A call to reach the sun-
A call to reach the moon-
A call to reach the corners of the earth.

A voice to lead the call-
A voice that speaks for all-
For young and old, throughout the universe.

A Song for the Ages-
The changing of the times-
A song of faith and hope for what’s begun.

A chapter’s finally done-
And Abraham has won-
It’s a time for dreams of better things to come.

A Song for the Ages-
The changing of the times-
A song of faith and hope for what’s to come.

A chapter’s finally done-
A new day has begun-
It’s a time for dreams of better things to come.

© 2008 Rondi Charleston

Signs of Life 

Motema Music, 2013

The Cave Knows – R. Charleston/Fred Hersch

Originally written for the film, No Place On Earth by Magnolia Films

 

The cave knows the ghosts of our past,
But we knew the cave only in darkness
And it is always with us.

The cave knows the fire in the night –
the evils of the world
The cave knows the childhood lost forever –
Our whispered prayers of faith

It gave us warmth and shelter
It gave us the gift of time
It gave us strength and freedom
It gave us the gift of life

The cave knows the power of a mother’s love
The heroes deep within its walls-
Our memories, frozen in time
Our hunger to survive-

It was our miracle

And now, as sunlight fills our days
And our children and families grow
And we are free to live in peace –
The cave still knows

The cave will always know.

© 2012 Rondi Charleston and Fred Hersch

Signs of Life – R. Charleston
DNA – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Sink my feet into the soil,
Soak my skin in ancient oil,
Bring my feelings to a boil,
Got to clarify

Hear my voice – the sound is pure
I’m just a lonely questioner
Seeking clues to character
Got to clarify

Here in the land of the Midnight Sun
Of cinnamon and cardamom
Where Viking battles are lost and won
And ships are cast away

Where church bells chime in the countryside
And songs are sung at Eventide
I might discover some trace of my
DNA

Why I have my highs and lows
The peaks and valleys, heaven knows
Like fjords that soar and plunge below
The waterline

Why I need the open fields
Why I read the Seventh Seal
The light in august soon reveals
The paradigm

Fingerprints and molecules
Hereditary knowledge rules
The double helix never fools
The script is ready made

I’ll shake the trees –I’ll shake the stones
I’ll shake these secrets from my bones
And when I’m done I’ll shake my soul
I’m not afraid – oh, I am not afraid.

THE HISTORY OF CREATION
THE BLUEPRINTS OF THE WORLD
THE SECRETS OF GENERATIONS
THIS IMMORTAL COIL UNFURLS –
UNFURLS

Why I have my highs and lows
The peaks and valleys, heaven knows
Like fjords that soar and plunge below
The waterline

Why I need the open fields
Why I read the Seventh Seal
The light in august soon reveals
The paradigm

Fingerprints and molecules
Hereditary knowledge rules
The double helix never fools
The script is ready made

I’ll shake the trees –I’ll shake the stones
I’ll shake these secrets from my bones
And when I’m done I’ll shake my soul
I’m not afraid – oh, I am not afraid.

Only twenty-three small chromosomes
Hold our stories, mold our lives
And shape our future
Destiny – family – legacy

Shape our future
Family – legacy – destiny

Only twenty-three small chromosomes
Hold our secrets like a holy stone.

© 2012 Rondi Charleston 

The Wind Speaks – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker
How The River Flows – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker
Scrapbook – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Resilience

Resilience Music Alliance, 2017

Resilience – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Around The Corner – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker
Just A Heartbeat – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Refugee – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

In My Life 

Motema Music, 2009

Telescope - R. Charleston/Bruce Barth

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston 

A dialogue between mother and daughter

Tell me how the dance began –
between the stars and moons and sun?
About the rings and strings of Jupiter –
of how the galaxies ‘begun’?

Talk to me of gravity –
and how the planets pull through space?
About the fabric of the universe –
and the collisions in this cosmic race?” 


Tell me of the milky way!
About the man inside the moon!
About Copernicus and Galilei –
And how their ideas got – ‘misconstruen!’

And as I go searching for answers,
and reaching for reasons –
reading in darkness,
reeling in mystery,
slowly revealing how little I know… 



Talk to me of fairy tales –
about the Gods of the sea and sky!
About Apollo and Aphrodite’s worlds –
And their adventures of ‘do or die!’

Talk to me of Camelot –
about the Lady of the Lake!
About the true love of Sir Lancelot –
about the battles and lives at stake.



Talk to me of poetry,
and how my imagination flies?
About illusion and reality –
and how it feels to fantasize!

And as I go searching for answers,
and reaching for reasons –
reading in darkness,
reeling in mystery,
slowly revealing how little I know… 



Tell me – how will I ever find my way?
How will I know which path to take?
How will I fit inside this universe?
What if I make some great mistake?

Look into your Telescope –
and tell me what my future holds?
Will I go flying out among the stars –
and solve the mystery of those ‘big black holes?’ 



But while there’s so much that I don’t know,
One thing I do –
A little idea I’ll pass on to you –
You need not a Telescope truly to see –
You can see with your heart, my sweet, 
all that you need. 


©2009 Rondi Charleston

Ancient Steps – R. Charleston/Bruce Barth

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

It’s a push
It’s a tug
It’s a call
It’s a coo
It’s a dive
It’s a rub
It’s a dare, for a fool

It’s the sound of your voice
It’s the cry of a loon
It’s the danger of night
It’s the arc of the moon

It’s the pull of the earth
And the movement of time
It’s the ache in your bones
It’s an ancient rhyme

It’s a story of love
That’s as old as the world
And the cold, open oceans of snow

It’s a glimmer of warmth
Through the ages of ice
It’s the promise of spring in your soul

©2009 Rondi Charleston

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Motema Music, 2009

Dance Of Time- R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

My love, it amazes me,
how we still dance in the sun
Still move in unison
Though we’re no longer young

At times, we lose our rhythm,
and at times, forget the steps
But there’s so much life left
In the sweet duet

Steady swaying,
Subtle turns
A spin, a fall, a climb
We breathe together.
Our souls are intertwined.
We stretch the dance of time.

Once we learned to listen
To the space between the beats
Learned how the mind retreats
Allowed our hearts to meet

So when styles changes
And beauty fades
And the busy world moves on
We’ll still be singing our silent song

Steady swaying
Subtle turns,
A touch, a kiss, a sigh
We breathe together.
Our souls are intertwined.
We stretch the dance of time

© 2009 Rondi Charleston

Your Spirit Lingers – R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale
Two hundred years, two thousand miles
Of sailing ships in single file –
Streaming through course the compass navigates –
Moving at a fever pitch intoxicates –
Dreaming of a better life of possibility.

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning-
Sails on!

We ride the waves, the waves of time
And on each page, a precious line –
Memories of the caravans and wagon wheels-
Memories of the little children heaven steals –
I’m wondring where you found the strength and
What your soul reveals.

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning –
Sails on!

So if you see, and if you hear
A little girl who’s growing near –
Singing songs of hope and curiosity-
Telling tales of brave adventures out at sea –
Maybe she’s the poet you were always meant to be!

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning –
Sails on!

This hunger, this yearning sails on.

@ 2011Rondi Charleston

Land of Galilee – R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Out in the world- in a far off land
Surrounded by layers of stone
I feel the heat of old battlegrounds
Where ancient kings once roamed.
Here is the ground where prophets walked
And tribal wars still rage
Where people sacrifice their souls
For the mysteries of faith.
The streets were quiet – and the morning sky was gray
The doors of houses locked – children tucked away.
But from the East – the faintest desert wind began to blow
And down from heaven floated – light, white powdered snow.
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the Land of Galilee?
And as the snow kept growing higher on the ground
The doors that long were locked – their latches come unbound.
And all the age-old enemies – threw their swords away
And side by side like children – marched outside to play!
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the Land of Galilee?
Soon – mothers/fathers/sisters/brothers – people of all faiths
Their anger melted – and I watched as they embraced
And sounds of joy and fun and laughter slowly filled the air
A festival of love and light – a day so very rare.
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the land of Galilee?
And there was beauty
And there was harmony
In the Land of Galilee.

© 2011 Rondi Charleston

Song for The Ages – R. Charleston/Lynne Arriale

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Written for the Inauguration of Barack Obama 2008

A call to reach the sun-
A call to reach the moon-
A call to reach the corners of the earth.

A voice to lead the call-
A voice that speaks for all-
For young and old, throughout the universe.

A Song for the Ages-
The changing of the times-
A song of faith and hope for what’s begun.

A chapter’s finally done-
And Abraham has won-
It’s a time for dreams of better things to come.

A Song for the Ages-
The changing of the times-
A song of faith and hope for what’s to come.

A chapter’s finally done-
A new day has begun-
It’s a time for dreams of better things to come.

© 2008 Rondi Charleston

Signs of Life 

Motema Music, 2013

The Cave Knows – R. Charleston/Fred Hersch

Originally written for the film, No Place On Earth by Magnolia Films

 

The cave knows the ghosts of our past,
But we knew the cave only in darkness
And it is always with us.

The cave knows the fire in the night –
the evils of the world
The cave knows the childhood lost forever –
Our whispered prayers of faith

It gave us warmth and shelter
It gave us the gift of time
It gave us strength and freedom
It gave us the gift of life

The cave knows the power of a mother’s love
The heroes deep within its walls-
Our memories, frozen in time
Our hunger to survive-

It was our miracle

And now, as sunlight fills our days
And our children and families grow
And we are free to live in peace –
The cave still knows

The cave will always know.

© 2012 Rondi Charleston and Fred Hersch

Signs of Life – R. Charleston
DNA – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Sink my feet into the soil,
Soak my skin in ancient oil,
Bring my feelings to a boil,
Got to clarify

Hear my voice – the sound is pure
I’m just a lonely questioner
Seeking clues to character
Got to clarify

Here in the land of the Midnight Sun
Of cinnamon and cardamom
Where Viking battles are lost and won
And ships are cast away

Where church bells chime in the countryside
And songs are sung at Eventide
I might discover some trace of my
DNA

Why I have my highs and lows
The peaks and valleys, heaven knows
Like fjords that soar and plunge below
The waterline

Why I need the open fields
Why I read the Seventh Seal
The light in august soon reveals
The paradigm

Fingerprints and molecules
Hereditary knowledge rules
The double helix never fools
The script is ready made

I’ll shake the trees –I’ll shake the stones
I’ll shake these secrets from my bones
And when I’m done I’ll shake my soul
I’m not afraid – oh, I am not afraid.

THE HISTORY OF CREATION
THE BLUEPRINTS OF THE WORLD
THE SECRETS OF GENERATIONS
THIS IMMORTAL COIL UNFURLS –
UNFURLS

Why I have my highs and lows
The peaks and valleys, heaven knows
Like fjords that soar and plunge below
The waterline

Why I need the open fields
Why I read the Seventh Seal
The light in august soon reveals
The paradigm

Fingerprints and molecules
Hereditary knowledge rules
The double helix never fools
The script is ready made

I’ll shake the trees –I’ll shake the stones
I’ll shake these secrets from my bones
And when I’m done I’ll shake my soul
I’m not afraid – oh, I am not afraid.

Only twenty-three small chromosomes
Hold our stories, mold our lives
And shape our future
Destiny – family – legacy

Shape our future
Family – legacy – destiny

Only twenty-three small chromosomes
Hold our secrets like a holy stone.

© 2012 Rondi Charleston 

The Wind Speaks – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker
How The River Flows – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker
Scrapbook – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Resilience

Resilience Music Alliance, 2017

Resilience – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Around The Corner – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker
Just A Heartbeat – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Refugee – R. Charleston/Dave Stryker

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

In My Life 

Motema Music, 2009

Telescope

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

A dialogue between mother and daughter

Tell me how the dance began –
between the stars and moons and sun?
About the rings and strings of Jupiter –
of how the galaxies ‘begun’?

Talk to me of gravity –
and how the planets pull through space?
About the fabric of the universe –
and the collisions in this cosmic race?”

Tell me of the milky way!
About the man inside the moon!
About Copernicus and Galilei –
And how their ideas got – ‘misconstruen!’

And as I go searching for answers,
and reaching for reasons –
reading in darkness,
reeling in mystery,
slowly revealing how little I know…

Talk to me of fairy tales –
about the Gods of the sea and sky!
About Apollo and Aphrodite’s worlds –
And their adventures of ‘do or die!’

Talk to me of Camelot –
about the Lady of the Lake!
About the true love of Sir Lancelot –
about the battles and lives at stake.

Talk to me of poetry,
and how my imagination flies?
About illusion and reality –
and how it feels to fantasize!

And as I go searching for answers,
and reaching for reasons –
reading in darkness,
reeling in mystery,
slowly revealing how little I know…

Tell me – how will I ever find my way?
How will I know which path to take?
How will I fit inside this universe?
What if I make some great mistake?

Look into your Telescope –
and tell me what my future holds?
Will I go flying out among the stars –
and solve the mystery of those ‘big black holes?’

But while there’s so much that I don’t know,
One thing I do –
A little idea I’ll pass on to you –
You need not a Telescope truly to see –
You can see with your heart, my sweet, 
all that you need.

©2009 Rondi Charleston

Ancient Steps

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

It’s a push
It’s a tug
It’s a call
It’s a coo
It’s a dive
It’s a rub
It’s a dare, for a fool

It’s the sound of your voice
It’s the cry of a loon
It’s the danger of night
It’s the arc of the moon

It’s the pull of the earth
And the movement of time
It’s the ache in your bones
It’s an ancient rhyme

It’s a story of love
That’s as old as the world
And the cold, open oceans of snow

It’s a glimmer of warmth
Through the ages of ice
It’s the promise of spring in your soul

©2009 Rondi Charleston

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Motema Music, 2009

Dance Of Time

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

My love, it amazes me,
how we still dance in the sun
Still move in unison
Though we’re no longer young

At times, we lose our rhythm,
and at times, forget the steps
But there’s so much life left
In the sweet duet

Steady swaying,
Subtle turns
A spin, a fall, a climb
We breathe together.
Our souls are intertwined.
We stretch the dance of time.

Once we learned to listen
To the space between the beats
Learned how the mind retreats
Allowed our hearts to meet

So when styles changes
And beauty fades
And the busy world moves on
We’ll still be singing our silent song

Steady swaying
Subtle turns,
A touch, a kiss, a sigh
We breathe together.
Our souls are intertwined.
We stretch the dance of time

© 2009 Rondi Charleston

Your Spirit Lingers

Two hundred years, two thousand miles
Of sailing ships in single file –
Streaming through course the compass navigates –
Moving at a fever pitch intoxicates –
Dreaming of a better life of possibility.

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning-
Sails on!

We ride the waves, the waves of time
And on each page, a precious line –
Memories of the caravans and wagon wheels-
Memories of the little children heaven steals –
I’m wondring where you found the strength and
What your soul reveals.

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning –
Sails on!

So if you see, and if you hear
A little girl who’s growing near –
Singing songs of hope and curiosity-
Telling tales of brave adventures out at sea –
Maybe she’s the poet you were always meant to be!

Your spirit lingers
It lives inside of me –
This hunger, this yearning –
Sails on!

This hunger, this yearning sails on.

@ 2011Rondi Charleston

Land of Galilee

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Out in the world- in a far off land
Surrounded by layers of stone
I feel the heat of old battlegrounds
Where ancient kings once roamed.
Here is the ground where prophets walked
And tribal wars still rage
Where people sacrifice their souls
For the mysteries of faith.
The streets were quiet – and the morning sky was gray
The doors of houses locked – children tucked away.
But from the East – the faintest desert wind began to blow
And down from heaven floated – light, white powdered snow.
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the Land of Galilee?
And as the snow kept growing higher on the ground
The doors that long were locked – their latches come unbound.
And all the age-old enemies – threw their swords away
And side by side like children – marched outside to play!
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the Land of Galilee?
Soon – mothers/fathers/sisters/brothers – people of all faiths
Their anger melted – and I watched as they embraced
And sounds of joy and fun and laughter slowly filled the air
A festival of love and light – a day so very rare.
And there was beauty – and there was harmony
A silvery playground – as far as the eye could see
Who could imagine – this possibility
In the land of Galilee?
And there was beauty
And there was harmony
In the Land of Galilee.

© 2011 Rondi Charleston

Song for The Ages

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Written for the Inauguration of Barack Obama 2008

A call to reach the sun-
A call to reach the moon-
A call to reach the corners of the earth.

A voice to lead the call-
A voice that speaks for all-
For young and old, throughout the universe.

A Song for the Ages-
The changing of the times-
A song of faith and hope for what’s begun.

A chapter’s finally done-
And Abraham has won-
It’s a time for dreams of better things to come.

A Song for the Ages-
The changing of the times-
A song of faith and hope for what’s to come.

A chapter’s finally done-
A new day has begun-
It’s a time for dreams of better things to come.

© 2008 Rondi Charleston

Signs of Life 

Motema Music, 2013

The Cave Knows

Originally written for the film, No Place On Earth by Magnolia Films

 

The cave knows the ghosts of our past,
But we knew the cave only in darkness
And it is always with us.

The cave knows the fire in the night –
the evils of the world
The cave knows the childhood lost forever –
Our whispered prayers of faith

It gave us warmth and shelter
It gave us the gift of time
It gave us strength and freedom
It gave us the gift of life

The cave knows the power of a mother’s love
The heroes deep within its walls-
Our memories, frozen in time
Our hunger to survive-

It was our miracle

And now, as sunlight fills our days
And our children and families grow
And we are free to live in peace –
The cave still knows

The cave will always know.

© 2012 Rondi Charleston and Fred Hersch

Signs of Life
DNA

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Sink my feet into the soil,
Soak my skin in ancient oil,
Bring my feelings to a boil,
Got to clarify

Hear my voice – the sound is pure
I’m just a lonely questioner
Seeking clues to character
Got to clarify

Here in the land of the Midnight Sun
Of cinnamon and cardamom
Where Viking battles are lost and won
And ships are cast away

Where church bells chime in the countryside
And songs are sung at Eventide
I might discover some trace of my
DNA

Why I have my highs and lows
The peaks and valleys, heaven knows
Like fjords that soar and plunge below
The waterline

Why I need the open fields
Why I read the Seventh Seal
The light in august soon reveals
The paradigm

Fingerprints and molecules
Hereditary knowledge rules
The double helix never fools
The script is ready made

I’ll shake the trees –I’ll shake the stones
I’ll shake these secrets from my bones
And when I’m done I’ll shake my soul
I’m not afraid – oh, I am not afraid.

THE HISTORY OF CREATION
THE BLUEPRINTS OF THE WORLD
THE SECRETS OF GENERATIONS
THIS IMMORTAL COIL UNFURLS –
UNFURLS

Why I have my highs and lows
The peaks and valleys, heaven knows
Like fjords that soar and plunge below
The waterline

Why I need the open fields
Why I read the Seventh Seal
The light in august soon reveals
The paradigm

Fingerprints and molecules
Hereditary knowledge rules
The double helix never fools
The script is ready made

I’ll shake the trees –I’ll shake the stones
I’ll shake these secrets from my bones
And when I’m done I’ll shake my soul
I’m not afraid – oh, I am not afraid.

Only twenty-three small chromosomes
Hold our stories, mold our lives
And shape our future
Destiny – family – legacy

Shape our future
Family – legacy – destiny

Only twenty-three small chromosomes
Hold our secrets like a holy stone.

© 2012 Rondi Charleston

The Wind Speaks
How The River Flows
Scrapbook

Resilience

Resilience Music Alliance, 2017

Resilience

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Around The Corner
Just A Heartbeat

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

Refugee

Lyrics by Rondi Charleston

© 2024 Rondi Charleston | All Rights Reserved