1. Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou
I was at a party and somebody was playing something from the “Ethiopiques” series. And I’m like, OK, I have to go find that. It’s this whole catalog of music from Ethiopia, mostly from the 1960s and ’70s. It’s this incredible compilation of music, all by different artists. And one that really stood out to me was this piano player. This album is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard: part Duke Ellington, part modal scales, part the blues, part church music. It resonated in all those ways for me.
2. “Song of the Highest Tower,” by Cut Worms
This is a song I discovered in quarantine — I think it was on some playlist I was listening to — and I’ve basically been listening to it on repeat. It’s interesting how music really hits you in a different way when you’re in situations like we’re all in. You find meaning in lyrics that is super relevant. These lyrics are so beautiful, the song is very hypnotic, and I just love the way he sings. I believe the lyrics are based on a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, which I read online, and it’s opened me up to that poetry as well.
3. “In the Heart of the Moon,” by Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté
I have been listening to this album for 15 years. I listen to it every morning. I’ll probably do yoga as I listen — maybe just for five minutes — but then I’ll usually just keep it on. Any time I put it on, my kids say, “Aw, I like your yoga music.” It’s got a real morning energy, to me. It puts me in a really specific mood, which is a good way to start the day.
4. Ryan Heffington’s Sweatfest
My friend sent me this Instagram account, and I just loved it. It’s been a great way to move your body during this isolated period. When I was feeling down or having a bad day during all of this, I’d do a Sweatfest, and it turns right around. The very first one I did, he had a sort of slow-dance section and we danced to “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, and it kind of blew my mind.
The best movie ever made, right? I try to watch this movie a couple times every Christmas. Will Ferrell’s just so earnest and so lovable, and it’s such a well-made movie: There are all these nods to the Christmas movies we all grew up with. I always cry at the same part, which is when they start singing the Christmas carol at the end. I can’t wait to cry at that part, every time I watch it. I’m not a frequent crier, but that’s a good cry.