Speaking to WSU Students
Layering traditional kirtan with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation, Krishna Das has been called yoga's "rock star." With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, Krishna Das – known to friends, family, and fans as simply KD – has taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, becoming a worldwide icon and the best-selling western chant artist of all time. His album 'Live Ananda' (released January 2012) was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category.
KD spent the late '60's traveling across the country as a student of Ram Dass, and in August 1970, he finally made the journey to India, which led him to Ram Dass' own beloved guru, Neem Karoli Baba, known to most as Maharaj-ji.
Given the name Krishna Das, KD began to chant as part of following the path of Bhakti yoga – the yoga of devotion.
After two and a half years with Maharaj-ji, returned to USA - alas, six months after his return, word came that Maharaj-ji had died.
He took solace in music, finding peace and strength in both his Bhakti yoga practice as well as in such heroes as Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Steely Dan, and Bruce Springsteen (whom he laughingly calls "the Bodhisattva of New Jersey"). KD also co-founded Triloka Records, a California-based label specializing in world music, releasing such artists as Jai Uttal, sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan, and legendary jazz musician/composer Jackie McLean.
In 1994, KD started leading chant at Jivamukti Yoga Center, NYC, with an ever-growing audience of yoga students that has led him to chant with people all around the world. In February 2013, Krishna Das performed at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles, CA streamed online to millions of viewers. The award-winning film 'One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das' has been in over 100 US cities, over 10 countries worldwide and is available on DVD everywhere.
With the release of his 14th album, Kirtan Wallah—one who sings kirtan, KD offers a westward-leaning album, fully embracing his American roots in rock and country and yet embodying the spirit of deeply devotional Indian chants - the heart of this latest album is still in the Names that he's singing.
"The chanting just hits you and you want to be a part of it," KD promises. "That's the point of this whole thing. That's what cuts through all the 'stuff'. You get lit up. You don't have to know what it means."
More Information on KD's catalog is below:
In 1990, Krishna Das founded Karuna/Triloka Records, a leading distributor of world music recordings. His debut album, One Track Heart, released in 1996, focuses on updated chants from the ancient tradition of Bhakti Yoga. His second album, Pilgrim Heart, released in 1998, features a guest appearance by Sting, who sings on the tune, "Mountain Hare Krishna," and plays bass on "Ring Song." Krishna Das released the double CD Live on Earth...For a Limited Time Only in early 2000, and followed it with Pilgrim of the Heart (Sounds True), a recording of many of Krishna Das' stories about his experiences with Maharaj-ji and, later, in America (re-released in 2008 as a three-CD set).
2001's Breath of the Heart was produced by Rick Rubin and features a kirtan choir of fifty people (including Beastie Boy Mike D) and ten top eastern and western musicians and was followed in 2003 by another Rick Rubin production, Door of Faith, a departure from Krishna Das' signature call-and-response-style chant that is, instead, a deeply moving collection of solo prayers. Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga, released in 2004, is a compilation of old favorites and new chants accompanied by a DVD, One Life at a Time, featuring clips of live kirtan and interviews with Krishna Das and friends.
Krishna Das' next CD, All One, is a dynamic 70-minute recording of the Hare Krishna mantra in Krishna Das' own unique style – that moves from a contemplative style, reminiscent of the hills of India, to a rocking South African 'township' finale.
This was followed by Flow of Grace – Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa in 2006, in CD/book form, offering the reader/listener some background on Hanuman in different traditions, photos, translations, and a variety of melodies in which he sings this 4-verse traditional hymn from India.
Next came 2007's Gathering in the Light, a collaboration between Krishna Das and composer/overtone singer Baird Hersey and Prana, utilizing only voice and percussion to create new arrangements of seven of Krishna Das' most beloved chants.
Krishna Das' CD release, Heart Full of Soul (two-CD set; fall 2008) is a vibrant live recording that immerses the listener in the joyous experience of an evening of devotional chant with Krishna Das, from beginning to end.
Chants of the Lifetime (February 2010), includes 230 pages of KD's stories of his youth, his time with his Guru, and his experiences on the Path - written in his own words, with photos, and a CD especially designed for the reader/listener to develop her own chanting practice.
Heart as Wide as World (March 2010), his first studio album release in a few years, reveals the merging of KD's youth in the American rock'n'roll world with his spiritual roots in the Indian tradition. We find new tracks of original English songs flowing into chants from the east, beautifully accompanied by western and eastern instrumentation.
Live Ananda (January 2012), nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category is the first-time release of live recordings of classic Krishna Das favorites drawn from his early studio recordings. These tracks capture the depth and spirit of the group of chanters on a 3 -day retreat in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Krishna Das accompanied by tabla, khol mridanga, bass, violin, flute, and cymbals, blends the musical and spiritual tradition of the east with the voice of the west to create this rendition of call-and-response chanting that lead us into Ananda – Happiness and our true state of Being.
One Track Heart – The Story of Krishna Das (Dec 2012), a film that chronicles KD's chanting path premiered and was winner of best documentary at the Maui Film Festival Dec 2012. The film is distributed by Zeitgeist Films and has been screened in over 100 US cities, over 10 countries, and is available on DVD around the world.
Kirtan Wallah (April 2014) - With the release of his 14th album, Kirtan Wallah—one who sings kirtan, KD offers a westward-leaning album, fully embracing his American roots in rock and country and yet embodying the spirit and practice of of deeply devotional Indian chants.