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Deva Premal: DEVA
(Review LA Yoga Magazine, October 2018 Issue)
DEVA arrives in a full-circle moment of glory 20 years after Deva Premal’s emergence on the music scene with the widely-played and shared “Gayatri Mantra” track off her 1998 debut release, The Essence. Her new album, DEVA, is perfect for yoga, meditation, and any time you need a respite from life’s hectic pace. The album is a transcendent journey that opens with the “Seven-Chakra Gayatri” and closes with a “Prabhu Mix” of the same song.
DEVA's Sensual Sounds
DEVA also marks a homecoming to Premal’s beginnings in more ways than one, as she’s shared that her father chanted this very mantra to her while in her mother’s womb. Always nurturing and soothing, DEVA contains some chants with her partner in life and love, Miten. It also includes breathtaking bansuri flute parts by long-time musical cohort and dear friend, Nepalese flutist, Manose. “Prabhujee,” a devotional song written by the late Pundit Ravi Shankar, features his daughter, Anoushka Shankar, on classical sitar. The sensual sound bed finessed by producer Joby Baker is perfection as it supports Premal’s serene vocals effortlessly.
DEVA and Mantra Medicine
Heralded as one of the greatest artists in New Age music, she’s well-deserving of her global fan base and the praise she’s received from a wide range of celebrity luminaries including HH the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Cher, and Tony Robbins. Often touted as “mantra medicine,” this music will make your soul feel like it’s being sung the sweetest lullaby while wrapped in the softest velvet blanket in the universe. Yes, Deva Premal’s mantras are nurturing “medicine.”
Read listener reviews online or talk to anyone familiar, and you’ll quickly understand the transformational and healing effects Deva Premal’s music has on the masses. This includes those who share of being stopped in their tracks and transported onto a bliss-wave in a spiritual bookstore playing one of her many albums, as well as others who have peaceful sleep through listening to Deva’s songs. People in yoga classes testify that they find the most restorative savasana while her music’s playing. Her ability to transmit sacred vibrations is incomparable.
Deva Premal is an auditory alchemist whose music on DEVA nurtures, uplifts, and transports listeners to a refuge for the conscious—and busy—mind to let go, rest, and renew.
Read the original review via LA Yoga Magazine here: http://layoga.com/entertainment/music/deva-by-deva-premal/
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Kimberly Haynes: Awaken Me
Wise Old Owl Music
(Review in LA Yoga Magazine, March 2017 Issue)
The first album by singer/songwriter Kimberly Haynes is a richly produced, genre-crossing collection of uplifting poetry put to song. I was pleasantly surprised to find she avoids the cliché of syrupy sweet “life-is-but-a-dream” lyrics I too often find in New Thought music. Her offerings reveal an authentic wisdom and depth earned from the highs and lows of spiritual seeking and finding. Kimberly’s powerful soprano vocals, which often remind me of Joni Mitchell, mesh into a harmoniously wonderful dance with the complex fusion of Western and Eastern instrumentation layered throughout every song.
Awaken Me weaves a tapestry of musical prayers that shine in large part due to the talented co-producer David Vito Gregoli, who also lent his arranging skills and multi-instrumental gifts to the project. In addition to Vito’s performances on strings, flutes and percussion, there is an impressive list of stellar artists who contributed to this album along with Kimberly Haynes. Standout contributions include vocalist Tina Malia, multi-Grammy nominated pianist Peter Kater, percussionists Christo Pellani and Byron Metcalf, Native American flautist Al Jewer, and the sensitive mastering job by Grammy-winning Ricky Kej.
Successfully traversing many styles, Awaken Me even contains a little mantra content for those seeking chants in their musical selections. The opening title track “Awaken Me” has a haunting “Om” chant woven throughout that feels perfect for savasana or relaxation. “The Jewel” lyrics are a reminder to go within to find what truly matters, and the song begins and ends with “Om Mani Padme Hum” (“Behold the Jewel Within the Lotus”). The sultry “You’re the One that I Want” (yeah, that little sugar shack Travolta/Newton-John track from Grease) has been re-imagined to include the Krishna chant “Govinda Jaya” mixed underneath the closing.
ccording to Kimberly, “Each of us has the daily opportunity to awaken to our personal destiny—to who we truly are and what we each have to give.” With that in mind, her music provides an avenue to reflect and find just that.
Awaken Me by Kimberly Haynes is a musical invitation to view life as a sacred journey filled with joy, discovery, healing, love and connection that delivers an inspirational and accessible listening experience.
For more information about Kimberly, her music, and her events visit her at her home online Music Medicine Woman.
Shantala: Living Waters
Wolf Club Music
(Review in LA Yoga Magazine, July 2015 Issue)
Musicians Benjy and Heather Wertheimer, also known as Shantala, partners n life, love and music, recently released their latest album Living Waters. Finished in the wake of their maiden voyage to India, it's a mantra-infused, meditative plunge for the spirit.
The instrumentation and vocals are masterfully performed, captured, and mixed to create a sonic sound bed that simultaneously makes palpable their reverence, devotion, and purity of heart. At the album’s core are Benjy—whose gorgeous multi-instrumentalism (esraj, tabla, guitar, keyboards, and percussion) routinely brings me to tears; Heather, a divinely gifted vocalist and guitarist, and Sean Frenette, co-collaborator and fellow musical genius. Sublime contributions come from Alam Khan on sarode, Steve Gorn on bansuri flute, Jami Sieber on cello, Ben Leinbach on percussion, and guest vocalists Tina Malia, Lindsey Stormo, and Luna Marcus.
Picking “a favorite” is difficult, as every song is a gem. “Kothbiro/Jaya Radhe” is achingly beautiful. It is an African rain song originally written and performed by Ayub Ogada; Sean and Benjy flawlessly added Sanskrit mantra into the second half of their version. “Wahe Guru,” a Kundalini chant to bring the heart light, and soul freedom, resonates with me, due in part to my own Kundalini practice. On “Aham Ityeva,” lyrics and melody are courtesy of one of their teachers, Douglas Brooks, and it opens a divine channel to the interconnectedness of all.
Living Waters is blissful soul diving. Each track flows gently into the next and generates a sweet, sacred sound current perfect for life’s daily activities.
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Beauty: Ayurveda Rituals
(Article in Parvati Magazine, March 2015 Issue)
Practicing any kind of sacred ritual can bring about awareness and transformation. Be it a puja, guru’s blessing, communion, mantra practice or the like, I’m pretty much game to try anything that sounds like it will help me live a more mindful and thus happy life. I think many of us don’t readily think of our daily skincare practice in the realm of sacred ritual, but after I was introduced to an Ayurveda skincare and perfume line, I grew to see this differently.
For those unfamiliar or needing a brief re-introduction, Ayurveda is a holistic system for healing and wellness that originated in the Vedic culture of India over 5,000 years ago. With the rise in popularity of yoga and its related practices in the western world, we’ve seen this science of life (Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that broken down translates as: Ayur “life”, and Veda “science or knowledge”) have a major surge in practice as well. Designed to remind us that our wellbeing is a balanced combination of mind, body, and spirit in relation to our environment, Ayurveda asserts that there are three fundamental “doshas,” or energies, that govern our inner and outer worlds: Vata (Ether/Air), Pitta (Fire/Water) and Kapha (Earth/Water). Although each of us has all three doshas, most people have one or two predominant elements and creating a balanced dosha is essential to achieving and maintaining overall health.
With extensive training and experience in Ayurveda practices and the spa industry, Andrea Olivera is a leading Ayurveda Specialist and owner of The Ayurveda Rituals: Studio, Spa & Boutique located in the downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She’s developed Ayurveda Rituals, a line of skincare and botanical perfumes designed to create a daily practice of inner and outer wellbeing and harmony. Her Ayurveda Botanical Skincare line for the face is for use by all three doshas, along with oils for scalp and body and bath salts specifically suited for each dosha type. In addition to every product smelling like a Divine creation, they are all created with the finest natural ingredients. Andrea’s website ayurvedictouch.com offers professional videos and easy to follow instructions for morning and evening ritual application, as well as an online test to determine your particular dosha before selecting any of her products (I took it and learned I’m a Pitta J). Only having limited knowledge of Ayurveda products prior to this, I can honestly say I found using her skincare an easy way to create a daily mindfulness practice as her system encourages the use of all of your senses. She even recommends choosing music to create a sound bed, and I’d like to suggest either using mantra or kirtan music, or simply reciting a personal mantra silently or aloud to help support your mindfulness during the particular Ayurveda ritual. As Andrea states, “Ritual is a relationship between intention, desired effects, directed focus and attention, practical application and results.” Her line of perfumes, all appropriately named after sacred deities, individuals or concepts are pure delight, no matter the scent. You can select individual blends in her line based on your particular dosha, or get all of them in travel-friendly sizes so you can sample them all depending on your mood. My personal favorite scents are “Magdalena,” which for me was evocative of ancient and sacred places, and “Krishna,” which I found to be an intoxicating blend of sweet nectars that connected me to my heart and spirit. Andrea shares, “Aromatics engage our senses with creative, evocative and inspirational infusions reminding us that rejuvenation is our birthright.”
If you are fortunate enough to live in the Toronto area, you can visit Andrea’s spa to have one or more of her professional team members pamper you in Ayurvedic treatments and goodness, making sure to depart afterwards with the perfect set of products for your specific dosha. Andrea also offers a wide array of workshops and trainings for those interested in expanding their personal knowledge and care, as well as for those interested in the professional spa specialist arena. For the rest of us, her products are available for easy online ordering.
Ayurveda Rituals is a perfect way to bring the sacred practice of awareness, self-care and ritual into your daily life.
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Donna De Lory: Here in Heaven
(Review LA Yoga Magazine, November 2018 Issue)
Here In Heaven arrives like refreshing nectar to quench a world thirsty for some much-needed grace. Donna De Lory is known for her etheric, angelic vocals that envelop listeners in a dreamy, heart-centering haze, and her latest offering provides another opportunity to get wrapped in her mystical warmth. Whether the lush and layered “Heaven” or more pared-down and raw remake of her original song, “Go Talk To Mary” from her 1993 release Bliss, Donna’s new album is restorative ambrosia.
At its core, Here In Heaven is about authentic connection in all forms: Family, Spirit, Love, Divinity, Truth. A fusion of pop and world (Indian and Latin) grooves, this album is a masterfully crafted, performed, and produced mix of English, Spanish, Sanskrit and Gurmukhi songs on love, nature, and reverence. It’s at once poignantly personal and easily relatable with broad-based appeal.
Standout Songs on Here in Heaven
Other standout tracks include “Amor Amor,” co-written by Donna and her late, Grammy award-winning father (featured on piano); “Listen,” co-written with Avasa and Matty Love, which includes a playful chorus sung by Donna’s daughter Luci and her third-grade class; and “Sat Siri,” the only outright chant-titled track on the album. For fans of Donna’s signature mantra music, you’ll find sacred sweetness with the Buddhist verses “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” on two songs and the Gurmukhi “Ra Ma Da Sa” at the end of “Go Talk to Mary.”
Donna De Lory and the Magic of Performance
Donna’s voice is a divine gift she’s perfected and honed through a life devoted to her artistry. There’s an intimacy on Here In Heaven that’s different than her previous releases. I feel like I’m being allowed special access to a private performance, and she completely sweeps me up and away with her pure presence throughout. Donna has an uncanny ability to project an air of mystery while also transmitting a vulnerable sensitivity. This is true whether you’re tuning into her music via recordings or partaking in her magic live. Her path traverses the world of pop and sacred Eastern chant, bringing her sizable talent and behemoth musical chops to a devotional world that requires raw and real if one is to touch the hearts of the spiritual community at large. And she does. Every. Single. Time.
Here in Heaven Musicians
The musicianship on this album is stellar, with guitarists James Harrah (Jewel, Madonna, Ray Charles) and Gerry Leonard (David Bowie); percussionists Dave Allen (Michelle Branch), and Luis Conte (Phil Collins, Madonna, James Taylor). Musicians on strings include Stevie Blacke (Beck, Rob Thomas, Nelly Furtado), among others. Donna contributes keyboards and harmonium. The album was mixed by studio wiz Kevin Killen (U2, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello).
Elixir for the Spirit
Uplifting and evocative, Here In Heaven is a soothing and healing musical elixir for the mind, body, and spirit.
Read the original review via LA Yoga Magazine here: https://layoga.com/entertainment/music/heaven-donna-de-lory/
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Prem Joshua: Kashi
(Review in LA Yoga Magazine, November 2014 Issue)
Prem Joshua, a pioneer in successfully blending contemporary western music with traditional sounds from India, has just released his latest album Kashi. This endeavor is his second collaboration (after Ahir) with fellow German musician and producer Chintan Relenberg.
With over fifteen prior releases from Prem Joshua, I’ve come to expect innovative, funky and playful tracks that incorporate world beats and great arrangements with traditional Sanskrit mantras from this stellar multi-instrumentalist (sitar, bamboo flute, and saxophones) and vocalist. Kashi really delivers on all fronts. Chintan, also a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist, lays down stylish parts on keyboards, bass, table, udu, kanjira, pandeiro, and drum programming.
Standout tracks include “Tumhaari Mara”—dedicated to 16th century princess Meera, who was one of the greatest saints and poets from India—with its reggae rhythms, danceable melody and vocals by Sanou Olszewski; “Gayatri Ghetto”—which reminded me of “Dance of Kali” from his album Dance of Shakti: and “Ya Devi Sarva “—the Devi Suktam Mantra dedicated to goddess Durga, who represents female energy and wisdom—with lush bamboo flutes, sitar and toe-tapping beats layered skillfully under the vocal tracks.
Kashi is a seamless, beat-laden blend of East-meets-West songs developed around ancient Indian mantras and shlokas (poetry verse) that offers the listener a transcendent, accessible, and refreshing take on devotional music.
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