Hilary Stagg was introduced to me indirectly by Alf-Ji Ericksen, a former co-worker of mine on the monthly soap opera Between Worlds. I thought it was Andreas Vollenweider when I realized I had already bought the new Vollenweider CD.
Stagg had it going on with a gentle, melodic style that could easily stop a bear in its tracks. A native of Northern California, Stagg worked as a commercial driver on Alaskan oil rigs and then as an electrician in the Bay Area. Andreas Vollenweider must have inspired both of us but he took it to a whole different level.
He began to study the harp after attending one of Vollenweider’s concerts. Utilizing his skills as an electrician, he amplified the instrument going to the heights of gentleness bringing the listener into the world of the soothing. He performed regularly honing his skills and gaining confidence. The result: six titles on Real Music. Hilary once stated about his instrument: “There is something about the harp that captivates not only the listener but reaches a part of me as well that it’s difficult to describe or understand.”
Sadly enough, while I was waiting for the next journey, I had come across some news in New Age Voice that he had passed away. When I got home, instead of watching that day’s taped episode of As The World Turns, I found my copy of Sweet Return, put in my CD boom box, laid on my couch, listened, dreamed about my own private spaces and, in some points, cried. Stagg’s journey had ended too early. He was 41.
It’s hard to imagine a world in which someone could actually give both Andreas Vollenweider and Georgia Kelly a run for the money and have that person gone. Stagg was a true musician, a maverick, and a soothing spirit whose tones would say, “Relax. Take it slow. It’s not major. Everything will be all right.” The journey was simply beautiful.