SNATAM KAUR KHALSA is an American singer, peace activist, author of the book Original Light – The morning practice of kundalini yoga. She has an amazing ability to transform traditional Sikh chants of India into a contemporary sound that appeals to the modern ear and awakens an ancient yearning in the soul.
For over thirty years, she studied with and grew up in the presence of her spiritual teacher, the Sikh guru Yogi Bhajan, while he was in his physical form, learning the essence of Naad Yoga, a form of yoga focusing on sacred sound. At the core of this practice is an essential experience of peace and healing which has helped her music to be accessible to people of all walks of life. She has taught and shared Naad Yoga and Kundalini Yoga and meditation through her recorded CDs, concerts, and workshops for the past sixteen years as a part of her commitment to give people tools for a daily experience of inner peace. Her new book (Original Light – The morning practice of kundalini yoga ) is a compassionate and supportive guide to creating a personal daily spiritual practice.
Snatam Kaur Khalsa was born 1972 in Trinidad, Colorado. The surname “Kaur”, meaning “princess”, is shared by all female Sikhs. When Snatam was six, the family went to India where her mother studied kirtan. During her childhood, she played kirtan with her mother in Sikh temples and at Sikh religious ceremonies. She attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, where she played violin in the school orchestra and began songwriting. After graduating, Snatam attended Mills College in Oakland, California, receiving a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She then returned to India to study kirtan under her mother’s teacher, Bhai Hari Singh. In 1997, Kaur began a career as a food technologist with Peace Cereals in Eugene, Oregon.
From 2000 she dedicated herself to sharing devotional music and spiritual practice. In 2000, Kaur signed with Spirit Voyage Records — the founder of which, Guru Ganesha Singh Khalsa, became her manager and guitarist. From now on Snatam Kaur has released more than 20 albums, and received numerous positive reviews of her concerts and CDs, especially in alternative and yogic media. In 2010, her album Essential Snatam Kaur: Sacred Chants for Healing peaked at number nine on the Billboard listing of Top New Age Music Albums. Snatam Kaur’s career also received a boost when it became known that her music was a favorite of Oprah Winfrey.
Snatam, being engaged to Sikh tradition and Kundalini Yoga practice, is working to create a better world in many ways. Sikhism is a way of life that includes devoting time to meditating on God and the scriptures, chanting, and living life in a way that benefits other people and the world. In her music and performances she often uses traditional Sikh mantras as well as yogic breathing and other practices. She as initiated Sikh wears a turban which is important and meaningful part of Sikh identity.
From 2003 to 2009 Snatam Kaur spent much of each year on the “Celebrate Peace tour”, which included performances at schools, hospices, juvenile detention centers, and other facilities. Kaur is a featured teacher and “Peace Ambassador” for the 3HO Foundation (a non-governmental organization affiliated with the United Nations since 1996).
Snatam lives in the United States with her husband Sopurkh Singh, whom she married in January 2006, and their daughter, Jap Preet Kaur. Since the birth of her daughter, Snatam Kaur has considerably scaled down her performances, though she still comes out for the Sat Nam Fest Kundalini Yoga and Music Festivals held annually in Pennsylvania, California and Mexico.
SACRED CHANT CONCERT
WITH SNATAM KAUR AND FRIENDS
Concert, chantfest, musical group meditation, melodious yoga class… how best to describe a live performance bySnatam Kaur and her band? It’s all of these things and more. Crystalline and radiant, Snatam’s voice is redolent of the simple yet powerful truth of the heart.
Snatam’s divinely melodic songs based on traditional Sikh mantras are augmented by simple, heartfelt English verses that express the meanings these sacred syllables hold and help the audience forge their own emotional connection.
Snatam accompanies herself on harmonium (Indian pump organ), as well as violin and guitar. The harmonium and tablas ground the sound in Punjabi Sikh musical tradition, but the music also has a decidedly Western flavor. Most of the concert songs are done in the call-and response kirtan tradition, which builds an energetic momentum that palpably fills each concert space.
Snatam often leads audiences in a round of pranayama (yogic breathing) or gets everyone on their feet for a stretching exercise that soon becomes a sacred dance. By the end of the night you will be let in on a great cosmic secret: devotional music is fun.