This is Sada Sat Kaur's first album.

That, in and of itself, should be a source of astonishment. Sada Sat Kaur's name represents within yogic circles the alchemy of everyday custom turned into high art. For over 30 years she has toured the world, chanting mantras and singing kirtan in ashrams, concert halls, schools, public parks. In India, audiences have been known to flock to her as if she were the Beatles. "We play to crowds of 200,000 people," she says. "They want to touch you and get your autograph. You go to these parks when it's a Sikh holiday, and they hear that these American Sikhs are going to sing, and you can't even see the end of the sea of people."

As the decades have passed, that sea of people has never managed to hoist Sada Sat Kaur toward a recording studio-until now. "The feeling inside myself was that this was all going to happen when it was supposed to happen," she says, "and it did." In 2000 she was hanging around the watermelon tent at a Summer Solstice retreat in the mountains of New Mexico when she fell into an exchange with musician and producer Jeremy Toback. "We just got to talking and Jeremy and I were like, `Let's do an album." The result of that chance encounter is Angelsí Waltz, a debut disc from a 56-year-old homeopath and yoga instructor who also just happens to be a master of a musical and spiritual form.

It's not uncommon, when you're speaking with Sada Sat Kaur, to feel the conversation tipping toward the subject of transformation and that makes sense: Her life is full of transformation, as is her music. She grew up in New Jersey and graduated from New York University in the pivotal year of 1969; it wasn't long before she underwent a series of quick and dramatic changes. Watching the concert movie Woodstock, Sada Sat caught a brief glimpse of a man teaching Kundalini Yoga. As she puts it, "I had to know what that was." Under the guidance of her teacher, Yogi Bhajan, she soon found herself drawn to the naad, the sound current, and the way chants could convert a room into a sphere of limitlessness. "The mantras and the chanting were very powerful for me. It was magical. I heard it and I said, `What is that? I have to do that?'" "We have so many thoughts going on all the time. We call it the monkey mind, because it's always jumping around," she says. "When we chant, you're giving your mind something to focus on that's going to transform you and uplift you." In other words, Sada Sat's transformations are yours-and that, it turns out, is yet another source of astonishment. --- Jeff Gordinier



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