Sat Nam Fest caught up with Snatam Kaur to talk about her Grammy experience, what keeps her healthy on the road, her new band and what we can expect at Sat Nam Fest Berkshires.
Sat Nam Fest: Can you tell us what it was like to have millions of people see your performance at the Grammys? Is there one thing that has come from that which you’d like to share?
Snatam Kaur: When asked to play at the Grammys, I was super excited. After some thought, I decided to perform a chant from our album Beloved that I felt musically and otherwise had some mainstream appeal. I wanted to connect with people. I presented that idea to the Grammy show producers, and they nixed the idea! They said they wanted the track from Beloved called “Darashan Maago.” I was floored, because this tune is straight up Gurbani Kirtan, old school style from the Sikh tradition. My mother had learned this tune from a lady in our community named Ram Das Kaur, and I had grown up hearing it, and then sung it myself for years. It felt like the hand of God and Guru working, because here I had the opportunity to share something from my heart, my very blood and bones even as the tune is such a deep part of me.
So, then, here’s where the exciting part comes in. About 2 minutes before we were to take the stage, we couldn’t find my harmonium. I had been so excited to arrive to the Grammy stage, that I lost track of where that darn thing went. Good news. We found it, 30 seconds before going on. Bad news, I forgot to drink some water before we took the stage. More bad news, my voice cracked on the first note! Aack! Suicide for a singer. Good news, I was forced to get into my heart center IMMEDIATELY. Good news. I delivered from my heart, these absolutely sacred words of Guru Arjan. Oh Beloved God, please give me the gift of Your presence.
When we finished there was a stunned silence in the crowd and an opening of energy, like someone finding the latch on every window of an old dusty airless church whose windows are shut, and one by one they get flung open to the fresh air outside. It was the energy of Guru, had come through. It required the shredding of my ego, as it always does, and I believe it powerfully connected and touched people there. And for all the people viewing? I am sure it will be a discovery process, and we will never really fully understand the impact. The way of Shabad Guru, or sacred sound as teacher as given by the Sikh tradition, has its own powerful way of working and healing.
The band who played with me including Ram Dass, Sukhmani Kaur, Grecco, Jamshied and Caro, were such an incredible support. This experience has more than anything else, given me the permission to be myself and showed me once again, the gift of coming from the heart.
Sat Nam Fest: Is there something that is a part of your daily practice that you have been able to maintain with your rigorous touring schedule that anyone could incorporate into their own lives?
Snatam Kaur: Yes! You are going to laugh, but this is the real deal. Eat organic local veggies as the main part of your diet, and you’ll feel so good. It may not seem like a typical practice so to speak, but it is! You have to be disciplined in terms of what goes into your nine holes and what goes out of your nine holes! While on the road, I asked the producers to buy me local organic veggies, and I had my own cooker in my room. It smelled like someone with really bad gas, dare I should say farts! But oh well. It kept me healthy and happy, and Sukhmani even joined me many mornings for a steamed veggie stew.
Sat Nam Fest: Can you tell us what it’s been like to tour with your new band? Is there something specific we should be ready for at Sat Nam Fest that might be different from previous years?
Snatam Kaur: I love touring with this band. There’s some new instrumentation that I’m very excited about. Ram Dass is playing the keyboard/piano, and there’s some incredible and heart touching moments that come through. Sukhmani plays the tabla beautifully, and we also have the groove and heart centered rhythm from the Kalabash, a squash gourd, that just takes me to heaven. Grecco is a super talented guitar player, and brings a lot of presence and love into his playing. And at times, we have songs where Ram Dass and Grecco play guitar together! This is so pretty to me. Oh, and there’s also lots of great vocal support from Ram Dass and Grecco.
Sat Nam Fest: Can you give us a sneak peek at what you will be sharing at Sat Nam Fest?
Snatam Kaur: For me right now, it’s all about finding the way to vibrate from the heart center no matter what, and the power of Mantra and Kundalini yoga are amazing tools that we will do our best to share and utilize.