With decades of musical and spiritual dedication, SRI Kirtan comes to the expanding kirtan/chant scene as a duo of refreshing fun and spiritual devotion. Exploding out of Woodstock in 2004, Sruti Ram and Ishwari, now known as SRI Kirtan, have been a staple of many of the most prestigious kirtan venues including the Omega Ecstatic Chant and Bhakti Fest, as well as regular appearances at Kripalu and Jivamukti Yoga NYC.
From the moment Ishwari heard Sruti Ram’s voice at a kirtan event, a crushing force of cognizance urged her to record his singing. Using her home studio, she produced a live record of Sruti Ram’s kirtan. During the album’s post-production, Ishwari mentioned her background in opera singing and the two began singing a few notes together. The spark was ignited and SRI Kirtan was born. Working diligently, SRI Kirtan completed their debut album Fire of Devotion in the fall of 2007 with a memorable release at the Omega Ecstatic Chant.
“I had traveled through the musical world, from folk to punk then opera to electronica and finally here to world spiritual music,” says Ishwari. “It’s a dream to join forces with Sruti Ram, who comes with 40 years of kirtan leading experience, aside from his background in Gregorian chant, opera and doo-wop.” This unbelievable duo radiate an explosive fusion of ancient chants, mixed with folk/gospel/hip hop, creating some of the catchiest tunes ever heard in the kirtan/chant scene.
Proof of this is heard in Live Your Love (Mantralogy/Ishwari Music 2010). Joining forces with producer Julie Last (Joni Mitchell, Ricki Lee Jones), SRI Kirtan undertook the ambitious job of topping the energy and joyfulness heard on their first album. Calling in all the troops, Live Your Love is a true gathering of the kirtan community and a testament to how caring and conscious the music scene is. As Sruti Ram exclaimed, “It was unbelievable. One day Steve Gorn (one of the most famous bansuri flute players in the western world), is in the studio, next Visvambhar from The Mayapuris is laying down blistering drum beats!” Adding to the fun, SriKala, a young, yet highly successful underground Brooklyn rapper, lays down heartfelt lyrics and devotion on several tracks including the title track ‘Live Your Love’. Other guest artists include Charlie “Govind” Burnham on violin, Noah Hoffeld on cello, Kyle Esposito on bass and electric guitar and Curtis Bahn on dilruba and sitar.
“Our idea was to create musically diverse, yet fantastically joyous and approachable chants. The whole point of kirtan is to sing along and join in the Bhav, or devotion, to the divine with others,” says Sruti Ram. “I feel that we have accomplished this and more with this album.” There’s no doubt about it, Live Your Love is sure to set a milestone in the kirtan/chant scene. “We really gave it our all. Pulled out every trick in our books and worked until the very end and then some,” says Ishwari.
Coming from Woodstock, NY, the epicenter of the “Bhajan Belt,” SRI Kirtan are a community force and magnet for kirtan. That same community gives back their love on the heart-warming anthem song that finishes Live Your Love, ‘Ganga Ma’. “Recording ‘Ganga Ma’ was quite a day in the studio. Julie Last (Producer) had to really keep the focus on the task at hand,” says Ishwari. Sruti Ram adds, “We had 45 members of the Woodstock Kirtan Community as the chorus. It was such a blast. You can really hear that family mood and love for chanting come through.”
Each song on Live Your Love holds a view of the divine world from a different perspective. Together, they make a panoramic view of a spirit-infused world, where there is no age, no death and no disease, but simply bliss and full expression. Delivering over seventy minutes of transplanting vibration, Live Your Love is an album you won’t want to miss. And SRI Kirtan is a band you will hear about for a long time to come.
“We are excited to get out and sing these songs with crowds around the world!” Ishwari exclaims. “As Sruti Ram said, it’s all about chanting together. We had the live kirtan experience in mind during the entire song writing and recording process.” SRI Kirtan will be touring both the East and West coasts as well as Hawaii in promotion of You’re your Love, stopping at the major kirtan/chant festivals such as Omega Ecstatic Chant and The Bhakti Fest. If you haven’t experienced SRI Kirtan before, you will most definitely want to. If you have already, you know you will be back for more.