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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Good Vibrations: Grammy-nominated artist 13 Hands melds the musical and spiritual worlds to promote healing

Aug 31, 2011 07:30PM ● By Susan Bloom

In today’s fast-paced society, Daniel McBride (also known as Dalien or 13 Hands) truly stands out as a Renaissance man on a mission. A twice Grammy-nominated musician who skillfully plays 20 world instruments—from the hang drum, tabla, and harmonium to the baritone guitar, balaphone, piano, and Native American flute—he is also a yoga teacher and an adjunct professor of yoga and meditation at Montclair State University, a specialist in leading kirtan and other devotional singing and chanting, a provider of developmental and counseling services to those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a raw-food enthusiast. Not to mention a poet at heart.

Though seemingly disparate interests, all play a critical role in McBride’s vocation as a “sound-healing, yoga-spiritual entrepreneur.” Armed with a keen understanding of how rhythmic approaches drive a parasympathetic nervous system response that enables listeners to relax, McBride has followed a deep calling and successfully integrated the powers of sound, yoga, meditation, spirituality, and nutrition to help people release tension, tap into their inner calm, and heal. This integration allows him to “connect to people and help them kick start their own self-esteem and personal empowerment.”

The road to McBride’s unique offering has been a very personal one for the 41-year-old Montclair resident, who says he has been “following a bread crumb trail from early on.” As a child, he suffered the loss of his father in a plane crash and would later struggle with a range of health issues, including head trauma from a sledding accident, Crohn’s disease, and Epstein-Barr virus, all of which plagued him into his early twenties. “I tried all of the conventional approaches, but found that Western doctors had no answers for me,” he shares. As his physical symptoms spiraled out of control in college, he researched and began exploring alternative healing methods such as ayurveda, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, organic and raw foods, detoxification, Qi Gong, and shamanism. “I realized that at the base of my physical manifestations was an emotional rebuilding process I needed to undertake, which involved my childhood, my views, and my feelings about myself.”

No matter what forms of expression McBride’s passions took, however, music remained a common denominator. “I studied the clarinet, piano, and guitar in school and had classical voice training in my teens. Music was always the thread connecting all of the different aspects of my life, and I always came back to music for its heart-driven, holistic healing power,” he says.

Currently playing 100 area events, concerts, and workshops a year as Dalien (“My long-ago misspelling of ‘Daniel’ in a moment of bad penmanship, which stuck,” he explains) or as solo artist 13 Hands, McBride’s contemporary music has been described as “folk rock meets David Gray/Pink Floyd.” He himself describes it as “a kind of alternative mix of ambient, folk, and world chant.” Regardless of his title, he is embraced by audiences at performance venues, yoga centers, festivals, and churches alike. “The performances are very interactive and communal,” he says. “Everybody feels energized, and the audience ultimately becomes the band and helps participate in creating the sound and experience.” With five albums in his discography and two Grammy nods for his 2006 CD The Johnny Introspective, McBride is excited about the recent release of his newest EP, The Legend of Pepper Mary & Assorted Tales, Chants & Meditations, an ode to the power within each of us to heal ourselves and those around us.

In a culture that he feels “promotes avoidance and takes you away from being with yourself,” McBride is optimistic that our society is achieving a new consciousness, one which will be better aligned with nature. Says this New Age hero, “In the end, we must all love ourselves enough to make those healing choices.” For more background on Dalien/13 Hands, to book a performance, see an upcoming schedule of performances, or hear his new release, Pepper Mary, visit

Freelancer Susan Bloom writes weekly health and food features for New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press and specializes in topics related to nutrition, fitness, and healthy lifestyles.

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