Krishna Das, Grammy Nominee “Kirtan Wallah,” Headlines Two Miami-Dade Events
He’s made Kirtan (devotional music) a best seller. He’s moved millions with his heart-felt vocals and harmonium playing. He’s performed on the Grammys. He’s the subject of a documentary that was released in 2013. He’s the Kirtan Wallah (maker), aka Krishna Das, and he’s in Miami in conjunction with the release of his 14th CD.
The Kirtan rock star, Krishna Das, will conduct a workshop at Miami’s Unity on the Bay, Friday, April 11 from 2 to 5 p.m. The next day, he will be on stage from 8 to 10:30 p.m., at the Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater in North Miami Beach.
“Krishna Das is the Sting of Kirtan. He’s energetic, passionate, and has a message to share,” said Hal Martin, founder of Stop, Breathe and Smile. “South Floridians have been craving this type of performance, as we saw earlier this year when Stop, Breathe and Smile hosted concerts with Mirabai Ceiba and last year with Deva Premal & Miten, GuruGanesha Band and Snatam Kaur. We expect to sell out both events with Krishna Das.”
Krishna Das doesn’t just perform. As a Kirtan artist, he engages as he leads everyone in the call and response singing of mantras. His workshops include the participatory chanting, interspersed with his personal anecdotes about his spiritual path, and a forum for questions and answers. He has a winning personality, with a dry sense of humor. Possibly that’s what led to the recent documentary that chronicled how a young Jewish boy from Long Island, with the birth name of Jeffrey Kagel, ended up as Krishna Das (servant of the Lord) in India, dedicating his life to spread devotion, or Bhakti.
With chanting, says Krishna Das, “You spend less and less time in heavier negative states of mind. You’re letting everything go…categorizing…judging…the volume on this stuff comes down. We’re living in a very harsh world. Our lives move so fast. It’s not so easy to find love and peace.”
Alina de la Paz, a founding member of Stop, Breathe and Smile, acknowledges the difference that Kirtan has made in her life. It has brought her hope, clarity and calm within a storm-filled sea of uncertainties. “I wake up to Krishna Das’ resonant voice every morning chanting, chanting, chanting with him. The Bhakti practice has saved my life and I am grateful for KD’s devotion that inspires me to be more every day. Experiencing him and his practice in person is an awesome experience that I look forward to again and again.”
de la Paz has attended several of Krishna Das’ workshops in the past, but this is the first one in her hometown, and she’s grateful that South Floridians will be able to absorb the positive energy and spirituality that exudes from his persona, along with his steady baritone voice.
Krishna Das stumbled upon Kirtan in 1969 after he met the American spiritual icon, Ram Dass. The next year he turned down an opportunity to sing with Blue Oyster Cult, and followed his heart to India. He remained on the other side of the ocean for decades until his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, sent him back to America.
In 1994, he packed up his harmonium and went to American yoga centers, where he began chanting for an ever-growing audience. While his chants are, were, and will always be rooted in the spiritual sounds of India, his unique natural music soon began to inform his melodies.
“All I know is what I’m doing,” he added. “I’m just a Kirtan wallah. You have to drop an anchor down into your heart. My practice is trying to live in the presence of love, 24 hours a day. If we can’t clean our own hearts, we can’t change the world.”
Experiencing Krishna Das often leads to tears of joy, experiencing something beautiful. That is what Stop, Breathe and Smile is about. “The community is embracing Kirtan and spiritual chant as a short respite, from the apparent difficulties we all experience in our daily living,” adds Martin. “We are blessed to have Krishna Das come to Miami to share his passion for this form of ‘Inner-tainment.’”
Additionally, the documentary, ‘One Track Heart – The Story of Krishna Das’ will be shown at Unity on the Bay on Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m.
About Stop, Breathe and Smile
Stop, Breathe and Smile was established in South Florida in 2007 to create and produce diverse events that express truth, beauty and oneness. The non-profit organization is committed to nurturing a conscious community for universal awareness.