Interview with Snatam Kaur
by Larisa Stow
I had the wonderful opportunity to experience Snatam Kaur in concert at Golden Bridge Yoga in Hollywood this past September 8th. I had seen her a year ago as well at the same location and both times walked away with a similar experience... inspired and centered.
Snatam exudes an innocent stillness that is both moving and captivating. I couldn’t wait to interview her after seeing her...wanting to give you our listeners and myself some insight into this young womans heart.
Q: Was there a defining moment in your life where you knew beyond a doubt that music was your calling?
A: I have always enjoyed music. As a child, music was a part of our life as my mother is an accomplished musician of the Sikh traditional Gurbani Kirtan. My mother recalls that I sang a lot. When I was around 6 I remember singing in the bath tub! So perhaps that was my first musical calling! You have asked a difficult question.
There have been so many defining moments in my life which directed me to the path of service through music; being at the Golden Temple in Amritsar India and listening to the beautiful music there, being at our Summer Solstice gathering (www.3HO.org) and watching the sun rise as I finished leading the whole yogic congregation in morning chants, being in the studio and having that first defining magical moment when all of the hard work comes together in a momentary miracle that sends you to heaven. The list goes on. I think that I have defining moments every day. It is a constant definition process of chiseling my body mind and soul to serve people and uplift them. I have been blessed with a beautiful spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, who made sure I would never forget this lesson.
Q: What do you love most about performing and recording?
A: Both the processes of recording and performing require that I reach into my soul and deliver from that place of truth. There’s no getting away from it. In a concert everyone can perceive everything that you are going through. In the studio the precision of the equipment and the shear pressure to deliver puts everything into a magnifying glass. I enjoy this process! It may sound funny, but during this process I have been blessed to see that there is a wealth of energy, light and joy that comes from the Divine, and that is just waiting to be tapped into if you can set the ego aside. The more I can set my ego aside and come from a place of service, the more this energy seems to be available.
Q: When I attended your show at Golden Bridge this September I could really hear and enjoyed the musical influence of the Grateful Dead in GuruGanesha’s guitar playing. Do you have any musical influences and who are they?
A: I grew up as a Sikh, and feel so grateful for this. The Sikh tradition spans back to the 15th Century, and music is an integral part of our practice. There are many Sikh musicians living today that not many people have heard of in the West who I am completely inspired by because their music has given me so much peace and shown me a way to be devotional and really converse with God. I love Nusarat Ali Khan because he is so energetic with his music and really commands his emotions into the expression of his voice. I love Aretha Franklin and her ability to improvise in the music. I like to do a lot of that. I love Jerry Garcia and his ability to sing a ballad and take the audience on a journey.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration to write?
A: I usually write music, poems, or articles from my own life experience. I’ve never been able to just sit down and write something without feeling it first. I feel that I am on a spiritual path and journey that has taken me through some big challenges, deep healing, inspiration and grace. I know that this will continue! I do a morning yoga and meditation practice every day, and this has really helped me to process my experiences and in the end be uplifted by them. Sometimes in the morning practice I’ll get a vision, or a deep understanding of my soul’s journey that is not intellectual. I like to capture these visions into words, and this often translates into my writing.
Q: I heard that you recently married to Sopurkh Singh Khalsa. Did your partnership affect the writing and energy of your recent album Anand?
A: I definitely feel that that my marriage affected the energy of Anand. Sopurkh is such a joyful and intuitive man and has really helped me in so many ways to connect to my own internal joy. Anand is kind of a celebration of that joy and an affirmation of my soul’s journey.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
A: In the next five years I would love to have one or more children. It would be great to be able to continue to tour, so how about a big tour bus with a place for the kids to play? I am also very interested in beginning to teach people Sikh traditional Gurbani Kirtan, and have a goal of opening a school.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you have gathered from your musical and spirtual journey?
A: I have learned that everyone is on a spiritual path, and to give respect to each person’s process, including my own. Sometimes I wish to change the world, and change everything in it. But as I continue on my own spiritual path I’m learning the power of acceptance; accepting me, accepting my life, accepting everything and everyone in it. I’ve learned the basic power of taking a deep breath, and the basic power of sacred music to bring healing energy to my mind and body. Life, music, food, love, are all communications and expressions to God, and the dance with God continues every day. So, I’ve learned to accept my life and be grateful for all of the countless blessings. I’ve learned to be strong in the face of adversity, and I’ve learned not to give up ever, and to especially never give my grace away because this is a choice. Every moment we make a choice to be spiritual or neurotic as my teacher often said. I know that it is in the power of the little moments where the real life changes happen. So again, back to the breath and breathing… that is my greatest and most important lesson!
Q: There is a sweetness and humility that resonates through your voice and in your being. Do you have a spiritual practice that you do that helps to cultivate these beautiful qualities?
A: Every day I do a meditation and yoga practice called the “Aquarian Sadhana.” It was given to us by the great sage and Kundalini Yoga Master, Yogi Bhajan. I take a cold shower to energize the body and circulate my blood. There is nothing better then having a big glass of warm water to drink; I love this especially because I sing so much and it is very soothing for my throat. I do a vigorous Kundalini Yoga set every morning, and follow it with about an hour of chanting. I love this morning practice, and especially enjoy doing it with my husband. We practice it before the sun rises. To me this is such a beautiful and magical time of the day. I can never really think at this time, and that’s a good thing! This is my soul’s time with God.
Archived Artist Interviews
A collection of Interviews with Sacred Music's Awesome Artists
An Evening With Dave Stringer
Interview with Snatam Kaur
Remembering Singh Kaur
Lights! Camera! Kirtan! David Newman