Hailed as yoga’s “rock star,” Krishna Das has put sacred Sanskrit mantras on the music map. With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, KD has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling chant artist of all time, with over 300,000 records sold.
Krishna Das is performing at Wilmot United Church in Fredericton next Thursday, July 16! As well as singing he will play the harmonium (an accordionlike organ) and be accompanied by a tabla (percussion instrument) and a bass player. Click HERE for tickets & details.
In his college days he was the lead singer in a rock band which eventually became Blue Öyster Cult but he left that as a unhappy individual and traveled to India to explore his curiosity of Buddhism and Hinduism.
“My chanting isn’t some new-age kind of thing,” he said. “This is an ancient practice that I absorbed when I lived in India. It has become my meditation practice, it has helped me overcome depression, self-loathing, even a cocaine addiction.”
Krishna Das has released thirteen albums since 1996 including Breath of the Heart produced by Rick Rubin (worked with Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, etc) and Pilgram Heart which included an appearance by Sting. His album, Live Ananda (2012), was nominated for a Grammy Award and he performed at the Grammy Awards Ceremony.
I spoke with Krishna Das by phone from his home in upper New York state and was interested to hear about his performance at the Grammy’s. Although he was honoured to have been chosen for the experience he says it wasn’t the highlight of his performing career 🙂 The exposure did bring attention to his work and surprisingly he feels the biggest impact may have been felt in India. They were so amazed that chanting could be taken seriously by the west that it seemed to take it up a notch in their eyes. The next time he performed in Mumbai there were 2000 people in attendance!
Regardless the stage, once he starts singing he gets immersed in the practice and he tries to stay in it as deep as possible. He continues to be pleased and amazed that people can find comfort in what he offers and can find help to get through their days. He considers it is a blessing and one he does not take lightly. There is nothing he’d rather be doing which is extraordinary to him – that he has had the opportunity to do something nobody else was doing. He has made it up as he went along and he’ll continue to it as long as he can.
He tells me he is looking forward to visiting Atlantic Canada for the first time and he will be taking some time off the road in 2016 to allow him to actually put away his suitcases for a while and to get a good rest.
On a personal note, I traveled to Kripalu in Massachusetts a few years ago for a meditation weekend and so have chanted with Krishna Das first hand. I was a skeptic. I don’t consider myself a very religious person and didn’t think chanting was for me but I got something out of the experience and am grateful for it. I know this is a unique opportunity for Fredericton to be able to attend a Kirtan with a world renown performer. I hope the Wilmot church will be full and that others will also feel the vibrations of all the voices joining together in response. If you have ever had an OM moment at the end of a yoga class you will understand how powerful those vibrations can be.
“Chanting is a way of getting in touch with yourself. It’s an opening of the heart and letting go of the mind and thoughts. It deepens the channel of grace, and it’s a way of being present in the moment.”
Thanks go out to Stephanie Calhoun for making this a reality. She has introduced Krishna Das to many of her yoga students and she has been working to get him to the Maritimes for a long time!