Brenda McMorrow Hits the Northeast
Canadian chantress BRENDA McMORROW’s World Tour 2012 hits the Northeast with a series of dates in Vermont (Shelburne, Friday 4/6), Connecticut, New York, Ontario, Ohio and Indiana. You might call this the “Coming Out” tour for McMorrow as a world-class kirtan artist: the northeastern leg is just a small piece of a schedule that will take her to Austria, Germany and Italy by July; Bhakti Fest Midwest in June, and Wolfe’s Island, Canada for a three-day Shakti Retreat with SHYAMDAS in August. Come December, you will find her and her acoustic guitar in Costa Rica for Rainforest Rhythm and Song, a week-long bhakti yoga and well-being retreat she is co-leading with master percussionist JOHN DE KADT. Whew!
McMorrow has been performing since the 1990’s as a singer/songwriter in the folk/rock, jazz and bluegrass traditions, but is fairly new on the world kirtan scene. Her first introduction to call-and-response chanting was in 2004, when a friend invited her to join a kirtan concert at a local yoga studio. During the second chant of the evening, a simple Om Namah Shivayah, she recalls that “a change came over me” unlike anything she had ever experienced before. “It was as if my whole body lit up, and I was in a place of presence and knowing that was so undescribable. I was completely taken,” she said recently on Gary Goldberg’s radio show on WRPI.org. “I dove in in a way that I never had before.”
Three years later, she was leading kirtans of her own. She traveled to India, soaked up every bit of kirtan she could get her hands on, attended workshops, went to kirtan college with DAVID NEWMAN and started to make a name for herself in the chant world. She has collaborated with numerous artists, including JAI UTTAL, WAH!, DAVID NEWMAN, GIRISH, and DAVE STRINGER, as well as the acclaimed cellist DAVID DARLING. Soon enough, she had caught the attention of Brightstar, the artist-management firm best known for developing the live-performance career of powerhouse devotional singer SNATAM KAUR and for launching the GURUGANESHA BAND on its current coast-to-coast tour.
Wallah to Watch
In 2010, McMorrow signed on with White Swan Records, which released two of her CDs (Ameya and Love Abounds) that same year, and has taken residence as one of the label’s “featured artists.” She wowed the Bhakti Fest crowd last September on the Hanuman Stage and was The Bhakti Beat’s pick for “Most Ready for Main Stage” in our Bhakti Fest wrap-up. This, my friends, is a Wallah to Watch.
If you’ve ever chanted with Brenda McMorrow, you know what all the fuss is about. She has a style and presence that come from deep within, a warm, down-to-earth personality that makes you feel instantly welcome, and an infectious joyfulness that veritably bubbles over when she sings — just try not to be happy chanting with this deva! And have you seen her wail on that acoustic guitar? There’s some serious finger-bleeding pickin’ going on there. See for yourself in this luscious, 14-minute long Jai Ma chant from her performance at a sacred music festival in Vermont last fall. It starts out slow and prayerful, like a good chant should, and builds to a rockin’ and rollickin’ climax of divine Ma energy from the bhakti world’s own Divine Miss M.