Trevor Hall will bring his spiritually enlightened songs to the Cliffs on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m.

The spiritual searcher

Trevor Hall—a lanky, blond singer-songwriter—grew up in South Carolina and in 10th grade traveled to California to study at the international boarding school Idyllwild School of the Arts, where he met musicians and artists from around the world. The experience, he said, resulted in some of the best years of his life.

“My greatest lesson there was observing how art spoke to everyone … no matter what race, what faith, or what country you were from,” he noted.

In his senior year, he signed a record deal with Geffen Records.

“Unfortunately, other than an EP, none of the records I made with Geffen ever came out,” lamented Hall. “They dropped me from the label in 2008, but that didn’t deter me. I picked up my guitar and wrote 14 new songs.”

He released an independent acoustic album called This Is Blue that led to a deal with Vanguard, which recently released a self-titled 13-track collection of infectiously hooky folk and roots-infected pop rock songs with a strong spiritual message of tolerance, unity, and love. With a voice that will remind some of Peter Gabriel and a decidedly Indian swami vibe, Trevor Hall seems poised to be embraced by a much bigger audience.

Trevor Hall will appear at 2 p.m. at the Cliffs on Monday, Sept. 7. He spoke to New Times by phone.

New Times Your album’s lead track contains very few lines and speaks of “internal heights.” What do you mean by that?

Trevor Hall Well, that song is kind of like the summary of what I’m trying to do in my life: to maintain internal heights. It means to maintain a positive and righteous life, engage in selfless service, practice love. The song says, “To see the transcendent being/ Must keep both my hands clean/ keep my heart light/ Maintain internal heights.”

New Times The song feels like a mantra. Is that how you meant it?

Trevor Hall Yeah, definitely. I just wrote those few lines and I thought the song’s done and I wanted to just keep repeating [those lines].

New Times A song like “Who You Gonna Turn To,” which is imploring listeners to seek a higher consciousness—do you believe music can guide someone to enlightenment?

Trevor Hall Yes, absolutely. Music is able to speak on many levels. It’s … I don’t know what else to say except that music is so powerful, so powerful.

New Times In “Unity,” when you sing “They’re telling me He is different but I just don’t believe it,” I read that as saying Jesus isn’t the only path. Do I have that right?

Trevor Hall It’s not about just that. There’re so many fanatics in so many beliefs systems, people saying this is different from that, this is right and that’s wrong.

New Times Your message seems to be tolerance of other religions and other paths. Hinduism and Buddhism both seem well suited to that idea. The Rig Veda, in fact, says there are many paths to one God. Why do you think so many Christians and Muslims seem to have such a difficult time with that concept?

Trevor Hall I don’t know. I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s just [Christians and Muslims]. I think it’s everywhere. Fanatics exist in all types of things. I don’t know what they feel or what their reasons are for that outlook.

New Times Tell me a little about the path you took to your philosophical outlook.

Trevor Hall Well, you know, I think that Bob Marley said, “Who feels it knows it,” and if you have a spiritual feeling in your heart, it’s hard to ignore; it’s a very strong force. At some point I got a taste of this higher power, and I don’t want to go back to “regular” food. Once I got a taste of that higher consciousness and spirit, I wanted more, began exploring more, largely exploring that through music.

New Times When you perform live, what should audiences expect? Are they going to get preached to, or can people come and enjoy the music as art?

Trevor Hall I’m not a preacher. I don’t preach. The songs aren’t saying “come join this” or “do that and if you don’t than this will happen.” I’m singing about my path, my experience, and if they get something out of that, great, and if not, fine, move on. I’m just trying to share what I got.

—Glen Starkey