A journey of rebirth from the Alaskan wilderness to the Salish Sea | Rafe Pearlman in KANU

Rafe Pearlman’s new music is a love letter to the beauty and majesty of our planet.

In collaboration with Jake Perrine and Orcas Center, his album KANU will be showcased in a captivating production that will lead audience members on a wild journey of song, soundscapes, visual installations and storytelling.

“It’s going to feel like you are in an Orcas forest,” said Perrine, who is co-producer of the production and Orcas Center’s artistic director. “It’s a visual and sonic feast. This will be an album release party unlike any other.”

Pearlman will be joined by VJ Kaizen (Everett Keithcart) and musicians from Los Angeles, the Bay area and Portland. The 75-minute shows run Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 17-19 at 7 p.m. on the main stage. Tickets are on a sliding scale at www.orcascenter.org.

Pearlman grew up in a remote region of Alaska, living off the grid with a team of 25-plus sled dogs and singing to the ravens and wolves. During his prolific music career, he has traveled the world, performing for audiences with the mission of inspiring harmony, unity, equality and connection. Pearlman has appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle and was a finalist for America’s Got Talent. His voice has been featured on soundtracks for Netflix, Direct-TV, NBC and Thunder Road Films, and on Sony’s top video games. He is also a vocal coach and leads sound healing.

In the spring of 2020, Pearlman visited Orcas to see Perrine, a lifelong friend. Spur of the moment, the two created a live stream show with VJ Kaizen for Orcas Center.

“It was a totally immersive experience. It was Rafe with a guitar, instruments and visuals. That’s it,” Perrine remembers. “It’s my favorite live stream we’ve done. Rafe’s music is very evocative.”

The friends were so inspired by the experience that it prompted Pearlman, who had been based in Los Angeles, to relocate to the island. His connection to the natural world was reinvigorated, and for the past two years, he has been working on the album KANU. The music is inspired by his solo time on the Salish Sea as well as his experiences in Alaska.

“This project literally changed the trajectory of my life,” Pearlman said. “’Kanu’ represents a vessel moving through water (canoe) and also a rebirthing. ‘Ka’ means the spirit body in Egyptian mythology and ‘Nu’ means new.”

Perrine has been by his side for the past two years, working as a curator and visual translater of Pearlman’s music.

“Rafe is the finest vocalist I have ever worked with,” he said.

In September, the two held a Kickstarter campaign for the November shows, raising $22,500 to help pay for the musicians, audio mixers, video content creators, lighting, stage and prop designers.

Wrote Pearlman, “Over the past two years I have been collecting songs that tell the stories of various chapters of my life, and together form a musical journey that I am calling ‘KANU.’ It charts personal tales from my childhood living on a river in Alaska with my mother and our dog sled team and to all the many rivers and vessels I have navigated since. I can’t wait to share it with you.”