We’re not sure she’d call herself a “wallah,” but regardless of labels, Jai-Jagdeesh is a rising star in the chant world. Her music is firmly rooted in the Sikh/Kundalini tradition of Gurmukhi-language chants (the tradition of Snatam Kaur, most famously), but with a modern edge that gives her music almost a pop-inspired feel. And she’s not above breaking out in an old favorite — like she did at Sat Nam Fest with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s luscious Hallelujah…
Nothing Sikh about that, and the hard-core kundalini yogis at the festival ate it up.
Which, as an aside, proves a point about Sat Nam Fest that maybe some of us — including this writer, until I went to the festival — don’t completely get: it’s not ALL hard-core kundalini yoga, and you don’t have to be a hard-core kundalini yogi (whatever that is) to love this festival. I’m not, and I did. (Of course, there is plenty of hard-core yoga on the bill — you wouldn’t believe how long Gurmukh had those yogis holding tree pose! I, of course, needed to take pictures…ahem.)
One of the highlights for this SNF newbie was, without doubt, Jai-Jagdeesh’s set on Saturday morning (it started at 8:30, which was like, lunchtime for some of the hard cores who had been up since 4 a.m. for morning prayers).
Now, we may have been biased going into it, because GuruGanesha Singh, the founder (and now minority owner) of Spirit Voyage, the record label that produces all of the Sat Nam Fest artists, had singled out Jai-Jagdeesh as someone not to miss. He called her style “a little bit more eclectic” in comparison to the stalwart of the label, Snatam Kaur, or Nirinjan Kaur, a young Sikh artist Singh also proclaimed “up-and-coming.” (Both Snatam and Nirinjan, Singh said in his inimitable style, are “like, realllly ‘Sikh-y’.”)
Sat Nam Fest, Singh pointed out, has been a boon to young artists like Jai-Jagdeesh and Nirinjan, because it gives them an opportunity to “get out in front of a bigger audience.” In the case of Jai-Jagdeesh, who debuted on the festival schedule last year, “it was a real confidence-builder. People responded really favorably to her.”
We can vouch for that reaction at this year’s East Coast fest (in Waynesboro, Penn. Sept. 13-16). The crowd loved her. They cheered when the curtain first drew back to reveal her at her harmonium, percussionist Tripp Dudley on her right and sitar player Leonardo Har Prakash on her left. They applauded long and strong after each song. They whistled and hooted when she stood up to offer a Bollywood-inspired classical Indian dance piece (you’ll see why in the video below).
It’s clear this young woman, steeped in yogic tradition and Indian music since she was a child, hardened up on the streets of L.A. pursuing an acting career, then resoftened perhaps as sacred music reclaimed the forefront of her life, is a favorite daughter of the kundalini crowd — and beyond.
Just look at what she does with her neck…
How does she do that?
Jai-Jagdeesh’s debut album, I Am Thine, has reportedly been one of Spirit Voyage’s top sellers in recent months. No wonder; it’s a luscious mix of traditional Gurmukhi chants and love-infused English lyrics, backed up by the exquisite musicianship of Krishan on piano, guitar and gentle percussion and Hans Christian on cello, sitara, sarangi and nickelharpa. She recently launched an ambitious tour in the Eastern U.S. and Canada that wraps up Oct. 13 in Vienna, Va.For more, also see: www.spiritvoyage.com/Jai-Jagdeesh www.satnamfest.com
Additional Coverage from The Bhakti Beat’s Big Bhavalicious Adventure to Omega Chant, Bhakti Fest West and Sat Nam Fest East: Bringing Home The Bhav: Bhakti-Fried Bliss-Chaser Faces ‘The Laundry’ of Life (Video) With Deva’s Miten, Krishna Das Does Dylan and Shyamdas Does the Blues (Videos) ‘It Is Not Dying:’ Geoffrey Gordon (1952-2012) Remembered in Bhakti Fest Tributes and Haunting Video Photo Journals from all 3 festivals on our facebook page. Check our YouTube channel for the latest video uploads. Stay tuned to this site for more coverage coming soon! Subscribe here.