Kirtan at the Grammys? Now that would be cool. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
Chantmaster Krishna Das, the legendary “rock star of yoga,” has earned a nod from the Grammy nominators for Live Ananda, which is up for Best New Age Album of the Year. It is only the second time in history, to our knowledge, that a kirtan album has been in the running for the music industry’s top prize; the first time was in 2003, when Jai Uttal’s groundbreaking Mondo Rama was nominated in the same category. (No, there is no “Kirtan” Grammy category, or even “Yoga Music” for that matter – yet.)
That’s right. From here on out, KD shall be known as the Grammy-nominated chantmaster of American yoga.
Well, that is, until — and if — we can call him the Grammy-winning blahblahblah. That would be a first for the little devotional-music niche that is call-and-response chant, itself a mere drop in the catch-all bucket of “new age” music.
Live Ananda was recorded, well, live at Ananda. Ananda Ashram, that is, the Yoga Society of New York’s retreat and spiritual center in Monroe, N.Y., at the feet of the Catskills and the heart of the Bhajan Belt, where KD used to hold yearly workshops. Live Ananda captures five long, sweet songs — each a KD classic from his early recordings — co-performed with an exuberant audience of chanters during a three-day retreat in 2007. It was released in January 2012 without a lot of fanfare as far as we could tell, digitally only and only through iTunes (much to the dismay of Apple haters everywhere, and those of us who still like to have and hold an actual CD, complete with cover art and liner notes). UPDATE: Nina Rao tells us that Live Ananda is going to be re-released this month in “hard” form — cover art, liner notes and all.
I have to confess: this was the one KD release that I did not own. I mean, I’m as big a KD fan as you can find (bias alert!), but somehow I couldn’t get too excited about this CD. After the brilliance of Heart as Wide as the World (2010), KD’s first studio album in 12 years (with Grammy-nominated producer David Nichtern), maybe it felt anti-climactic – I played that disc night and day for months. Plus, I already owned — and loved — every single live recording he ever did. That and a pesky password problem with iTunes kept me from downloading it when it came out, and I just never went back — until this morning’s announcement. A Grammy nomination? How come I don’t own this?!
Well, now I do. And you’ll want it too, because, well, it’s Grammy-nominated. That, and it’s classic KD all the way: soulful, deep, heart wide open to the world, singing for his guru and taking us right along with him to that place he goes…
The much-anticipated Grammy nominations were announced by The Recording Academy Dec. 5 at a concert broadcast live from Nashville, Tenn., marking a count-down to the 55th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10. Nominees are selected by voting members of the Recording Industry Association of America, who can each vote in up to nine music categories.
So, now that KD is officially a nominee, we can’t help but wonder if he’ll capture one of the coveted live-performance slots at Music’s Biggest Night (even if he is scheduled to be at Blue Spirit in Costa Rica at the time — that’s what satellite feeds are for, right?). What would KD do? Wouldn’t it be something to witness the chantmaster and his band on stage at the Grammys, leading the superstar crowd in the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, broadcast live to the world?
Stranger things have happened at the Grammys. Have you watched this awards show lately? This is the night the music world’s biggest stars pull out all the stops, and sometimes go right over the top. (What was up with that Nicki Minaj “exorcism” last year?) With that kind of act to follow, KD might need to take a page from a memorable music video in the closet of his past (one we venture he’d prefer to forget)…something involving snake-dancing goddesses and a decidedly Christ-like KD, perhaps?
Naaah, that’s not gonna happen. A duet with Sting for Mountain Hare Krishna has been suggested, a nod to Pilgrim Heart (1998). Or how about a pair-up with Bob Dylan for Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, ala KD’s surprise move at Omega Ecstatic Chant last fall — have you seen this?