Monday, September 04, 2006

Celebrating the Release of Anand!

My husband Sopurkh Singh took this photo and the subsequent photos during the recording of Anand. This is what my recording booth looks like.

Thomas Barquee (my producer) and I are listening to what we've just recorded.

Thomas is a first class producer. He always demands the best from me as a vocalist, and calls out for the best to come through the music.

During a vocal take... sometimes we would get it after just one or two tries, and sometimes we would have twenty takes before finding the right one. Our goal was to find the place where my voice connected the heart and soul together. This is not always the most fancy vocalization... it just is what simply works... and you know it.

We are beginning our September tour at Golden Bridge in Los Angeles next Friday, with a big release party for Anand. We'll tour through Southern California, Phoenix, Tuscon, Denver, and Boulder. Information about our tour is on, and the cd is available there as well. The following is an excerpt of an interview that I had with Guru Simrat Kaur of Spirit Voyage Music.

Q2 What does the title of the CD mean and why did you choose it?

Anand means bliss. But it is not just bliss in the way that we are used to. Anand is the state of bliss that comes when every word that you speak and action you take supports the light and journey of your soul. In the words of Yogi Bhajan, “ Many people believe that the spiritual path is difficult and the neurotic path is easy. It takes the same effort and energy to walk either path. The difficulty lies in the nature of the mind and how it grasps things and becomes entranced by feelings and sensations. Direct the mind with immediate sensations and convoluted negotiations, and we create neurosis and confusion. Direct it with the power of the Infinite word, words of truth, and we will excel with clarity, kindness, and love. ( The Mind, Its Projections and Multiple Facets, Yogi Bhajan, PhD).

I chose the title Anand because for many of us it is not enough to talk about happiness, admire it, or strive for it... it is time to be it. The world needs us to show up, to be fully present in our lives and ready to serve. I feel that now more then ever it is important for humanity to find a way to overcome the great turmoil and conflict that we are facing. For many of us who have always wanted to help, wanted to serve, wanted peace on this planet... it is time for us to not want any longer...but to become what we are longing for. In my own journey, my first step to empowerment was to love myself and except me for me. The second step was to then find the inner joy or bliss and to feel complete and whole. That is Anand. Granted, every day I work on self love and inner joy. But, I know through my own experience that once these things are firmly planted, truly serving with your whole being and talent can begin.

Q3 Please talk about the different tracks on the CD, what they mean to you, what their general meanings are and why you chose these mantras/songs?

Guru Ram Das Rakho Sarana-ee. During the second week of recording Anand, I was really doing some deep soul searching. I felt as though we hadn't really gotten to the depth that was required for this album, and for the people out there that would be listening to it. I decided to go to the local Gurdwara in Los Angeles, called Guru Ram Das Ashram, and prayed to Guru Ram Das the fourth Guru of the Sikhs for help. In my prayer I said to Guru Ram Das, please help me find a way to serve these beautiful people that we are meeting, give them your light and your protection... that is all I ask. At that moment I got inspired and pulled out the harmonium that sits in the Gurdwara and began to play the beginnings of the music for this piece. I brought it to Thomas that morning, and we recorded it and most of my final vocal that same day.

Jap Man Satinaam. This track is a small window into the great writings of the Sikhs and the experience of how flowing and beautiful the words and the experience of reciting these words can be. I truly feel blessed to have grown up in the Sikh lifestyle and community and to have such a beautiful musical legacy to follow. We merged some of the traditional Gurbani Kirtan styles with western elements. The experience of preparing this Shabad, or sacred song, brought me a sense of stillness and calm. For me, this track represents where I would like to grow more in my musical and spiritual development.

Anand. This is the album's title. Krishan Prakash, GuruGanesha and I were experimenting with different rhythms and sounds and came up with the music. The words came on there own as we naturally gravitated to singing "Waheguru" and then the first section of one of the most beautiful writings of the Sikhs called "Anand Sahib." I feel that this track represents a little bit more of the freedom of the live music experience.

Paramaysareh. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh gave the Guruship to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. This is a sacred body of recitations from the Sikh Gurus and other enlightened masters of India. At an early age I developed a relationship with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as my Guru, and would often spend hours in our family Gurdwara either sitting and meditating in front of the Guru, chanting, or reading from the Guru. My spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, always said that you've got to find the word or words in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib that really speak to you... then when you recite them your whole being lights up. Well one day I was reading and came upon the following words and just had a rush of joy pass through my body.
Aad pooran
In the beginning, God pervades.
Madh pooran
In the middle, God pervades;
Ant pooran
In the end at the time of death God pervades.
God is the Transcendent Lord.

This track is a celebration of these words and ultimately of "Parmaysureh" the Transcendent Lord that exists in all people, of all faiths, in all beings, in all spaces and in all times.

Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam
During the recording of this album I stayed with Simran Kaur and Guru Prem Singh of Los Angeles. Guru Prem Singh is a wonderful composer and musician and one day he played this chant for me with his beautiful tune. I fell in love with it, and we began performing it live. People sang along with us with so much love... that I knew this had to go on the album.

Kabir's Song
This song was a part of my child hood. A few years ago while on stage, I just did an impromptu version of it because the words express the deep journey that I feel in my own soul. Yogi Bhajan used to say that when you are teaching, speak as if you are teaching yourself. I took the same principal to singing, I like to sing as if I'm singing to myself.

Mul Mantra
One day while we were driving in the van on the Celebrate Peace Tour on a highway somewhere I pulled out the guitar and started playing this tune. When we brought it to the studio Thomas of course took it to the next level and now it is awesome.

I've been lucky to have gotten a copy of the CD to review it for SikhNet and have been listening to it for the past week and enjoying it a lot. Now that I have heard all the tracks many times it is really cool to read your descriptions and motivations behind the tracks. It adds more depth to it...and I will now think differently when I listen to them.

Thanks for sharing :)
Dear Snatam Kaur ji,

I just heard the clip of "Kabir's Song" and it truly is so moving and beautiful. Thank you.

It would be so nice to know which of Kabir-ji's shabads, your rendition is based on. Do tell. Thanks again.

With Gratitude and Much Appreciation,
Jaswant Singh
Snatam Kaur,

Love and blessings from Amritsar. I am looking forward very much to hearing your new CD, especially after reading your interview.

Just felt like dropping a line, since there were only 2 comments on this beautiful post.

- Himmat
I have been listening to the clips all morning continously and have been in, truly, total bliss!!!!!!
I wish to congratulate Snatam ji on her beautiful CD Anand.
Thank u to all who worked on this beautiful CD helping us on our spiritual journey.
With waherguru jis blessing with all.

I was just surprise the first time y heart Shanti´s songs!

My dad and mum showed me your songs because they discovered it in yoga’s class.

Really lovely!!
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