As new age fusion phenomenon 2002 caps 30 years of groundbreaking instrumental recordings with the release of their latest album Hummingbird, a recent quote from group co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Randy Copus (piano, electric cello, guitar, bass, keyboards) bears repeating even as we’re heading optimistically beyond the pandemic era. In a short documentary about the creation of their 2020 album Celtic Fairy Dream, he said, “The more stressful times become, the more we need relaxing music to take us away from some of that stress. If our music can help with that, we’ve done something good.”
That need for collective stress reduction in all seasons has led the trio - Randy, wife and group co-founder Pamela (flutes, harp, keyboards, WX5) and their multi-talented teenage daughter Sarah (vocals, Celtic harp, baritone, ukulele, piano, Irish whistle) – to a series of impressive industry awards, including Best Vocal Album from Zone Music Awards (ZMR) in 2015 and a 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from One World Music Radio. Perhaps an even greater measure of their ongoing impact, 2002 has amassed over a billion streams to date via the inclusion of their timeless, dreamy, soaring and inspirational music on countless platforms.
Hummingbird marks the first time that the group was inspired to write and record an album based on a personal note given to them by a loyal fan. Last year, during the height of the pandemic, one of those billion listeners gave the Copuses an extraordinary gift – a lovely handwritten card with a hummingbird on the back. The fan expressed gratitude for the hope and inspiration 2002’s music brought him every day, and the hummingbird was a timeless cultural symbol of that. Intrigued, the band began a deep dive into the lore of this fascinating creature.
With about 360 species, they livre everywhere from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego at the Southernmost tip of South America, but the vast majority of them live in the tropics. Fresh from hearing two amazing albums sonically exploring the mystical realms of Celtic Fairies, 2002 enthusiasts can thoroughly enjoy the ambient grandeur and sweep of Hummingbird – from the lilting and whimsical skyward journey to “Rainbow Cove” through a sweetly lyrical celebratory dance towards the hopeful “First Day of Spring” – without knowing the history the group discovered. But for those looking for inspirational context, here goes:
Historically, Aztecs wore hummingbird talismans, both artistic representations of them and fetishes made from actual hummingbird parts, emblematic for their vigor, energy and propensity to do work along with their sharp beaks that symbolically mimic instruments of weaponry, bloodletting, penetration and intimacy. These talismans were prized as drawing sexual potency, energy, vigor and skill at arms and warfare to the wearer. In modern times, Trinidad and Tobago, known as “the land of the hummingbird,” displays a hummingbird on that nation’s coat of arms, one cent coin and emblem on its national airline, Caribbean Airlines.
Pamela Copus also notes, “Like an echo in the canyon, throughout our native cultures, this little hummingbird has represented hope, rebirth, beauty, balance, joy and harmony. Another unique connection to 2002 is the fact that when they move, the hummingbird’s wings create an infinity symbol just like the group’s logo – symbolizing eternity and continuity. During an unprecedented year when the ten transcendent, soul-stirring and transportive tracks of Hummingbird the album, the trio was deeply inspired by the way the image of the hummingbird represents nature’s restoration and resiliency and its capacity to heal itself.
It is the trio’s hope in presenting this music – a celebration of nature that Randy Copus calls “2002’s Pastorale,” referring to the long history of classical music connected to nature – that as we move forward, we, as part of nature, can share in that healing.
In creating their music, the Copuses say that as they were crafting each song on the collection, it naturally led them to where it wanted to go. Nothing was forced, they just followed it. While some of their previous recordings reveal single narratives, they describe Hummingbird as a collection of snapshots from many indigenous peoples. As they explore these, the journey rides a unique wave of emotions, from the tender, haunting strains of “Walela” and the heavenly swells and vocal “choirs” intrinsic to “Gathering the Clouds” to bold, majestic and triumphant percussive ascent (with those angel voices attending) of “Sacred Mountain.”
The highly visual images of the track titles speak to the overall theme of exploring and reveling in natural wonder – a soft-spoken reflection of “Sunlight in Rain,” the sensual dreamy baptism of “Jasmine Rain,” a swelling, orchestral flavored leap of joy “Through the Rainbow” and a hypnotic, cello and flute driven meditation by a “Wind Dancer.” One of the more mystical ambient pieces is “Courting the Moon,” which juxtaposes graceful a slow, graceful piano melody over an expansive space ambience. The hummingbird takes on many forms, and takes many flights through the ever-evolving wonders of nature.
“We’ve always felt a deep connection with the natural world and been fascinated with world history and culture,” Randy and Pamela Copus say. “It was simply magical to find out that this little bird, indigenous only to our part of the world, was still such a universal symbol of everything the world needs right now – hope, joy, healing and optimism for the future. From the very beginning, with the release of Wings in 1992, we have received letters thanking us for helping and healing. It’s humbling and it’s an honor that we hold very dear. There is nothing better in this world than making it a better place. We have always strived to do that with our music.”
Listen to Hummingbird here: Hummingbird (fanlink.to)