Snatam Kaur is a highly cherished artist in the New Age genre. She performs at over 100 venues annually, spanning the United States, South America, Asia, and Europe. Her album sales consistently exceed 50,000 copies each year, maintaining a remarkable presence on the Top 20 lists of New Age Retailers.

Kaur, a chant artist and peace ambassador, humbly takes little credit for her success. Her music, a beautiful fusion of traditional Sikh mantras and contemporary sacred songs, has deeply touched the hearts of thousands who have had the privilege of hearing her. One such person, a veteran of the Iraq war, reached out to Snatam Kaur to express that it was through her music that she was finally able to release her emotions and cry about her experiences. Snatam believes that the profound impact of her music comes from a power much greater than her individual talents. She said, “Our music is dedicated to opening the heart and healing and giving people the opportunity to sing and to pray for peace on the planet."

Kaur performs her Celebrate Peace concerts with guitarist and vocalist Guru Ganesha Singh, master tabla player and composer Manish Vyas and multi-instrumentalist Ram Daas Singh. She says, "The experience of praying for peace has very, very deep effects. When that prayer comes from your heart, you not only feel its energy in what you're praying for, but you heal yourself in the wake of the wave. It's completely within the sacred chants and I know that," 

Growing up with Sikh principles 

Snatam Kaur, raised in Trinidad, Colo., and Bolinas, Calif., had a Sikh upbringing, engaging in yoga, meditation, and chanting from a young age. She studied under the late Yogi Bhajan, a renowned figure who introduced Sikhism and Kundalini yoga to the West. At the age of 18, Kaur's singing moved Bhajan to tears, and he encouraged her to spread Sikh teachings and lifestyle through music.

Although Kaur grew up surrounded by these chants as a natural part of her daily life, she never considered sharing them as a career. Despite studying music and learning classical violin in school, she also taught herself to play the guitar.

She said, "I was fortunate to grow up in a household where my mom sang the Sikh chants every day. So I grew to know that hearing and listening and saying the sacred chants would bring me joy and I grew to know that when there were times of challenge, I could go to those sacred chants for healing." 

When she was merely six years old, a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, which is the spiritual and cultural hub of the Sikh religion, strengthened her beliefs. Despite growing up in America and being the sole Sikh child in her public school, her trips to India, exposure to sacred music, heartfelt interactions with people, and learning about Sikh history all contributed to a profound sense of identity. She reflects on how these experiences shaped her and allowed her to embrace her true self.

Initial years 

Having grown up in a household where music played a significant role due to her father's work as the manager for the Grateful Dead's, music had a profound influence on her life beyond her Sikh upbringing. Even during her teenage years, she collaborated with Bob Weir from the Dead to write and perform a song titled "Save Our Earth" at a massive Earth Day concert in San Francisco.

Despite her passion for music, she decided to pursue a career in health care. She earned a degree in biochemistry and secured a job as a food technologist at Peace Cereal, a company based in Oregon. Interestingly, she would often sing while working on the factory floor, showcasing her devotion to her tradition and her remarkable voice. This caught the attention of the company's management, who encouraged her to pursue a recording career outside of her job.

Feeling inspired by her commitment to sharing her tradition with others through music, she took the leap and began the journey of creating her first album titled "Prem." The album featured chants inspired by the sacred writings of the Sikhs, exploring the theme of love. The process of making this album proved to be transformative for her.

She says that it was a profoundly transformative period in her life when she recognized the significance of self-love and cultivating a deep connection with her own soul and the divine light that resides within all of us. Upon entering the studio and immersing herself in the process of creating music, she found it incredibly therapeutic and personally healing. This realization sparked an inner revelation, a moment of profound insight that she can share the music with people as an expression of gratitude. 

Her music 

In 2008, Kaur introduced a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences in her music. Her harmonious vocals have a pure and uplifting quality, touching the hearts and spirits of listeners. Whether she sings in Gurumukhi, the sacred language of the Sikhs, or English, her lyrics resonate with the possibility of living a life filled with peace, love, and devotion. Kaur aimed for her albums, including "Anand," "Grace," and her latest release, "Live in Concert," to allow audiences to continue experiencing the inner awakening and divine celebration felt during her live performances.

She says, “ I really believe in the power of people singing and singing positive affirmations. Essentially that's what we share with people, through the music and through our prayer for peace. And it's with those positive self-affirmations, that we become agents of change."

Sikhism is centred around individuals living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. This involves dedicating time to meditation on God and the scriptures, engaging in chanting and leading a life that contributes to the well-being of others and the world at large. Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004), who was Kaur's teacher, played a significant role in promoting the Sikh tradition in the Western world.

Shabads are an important part of the Sikh culture. Kaur explains that "Shabad" refers to the divine energy present in the recitation of sacred sounds, while "Guru" represents the living teacher. According to Sikhs, their living Guru is found within the sacred words of their tradition and physically embodied in the Sikh holy book known as the Guru Granth Sahib.


*Based on an article written by Naila Francis, published in Mystic Pop magazine on 8th August 2008 


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