Sat Kartar Kaur
Her childhood was full of music. Both parents played piano and her father frequently performed at parties and restaurants. There was music around of every kind--musicals, standards, and classical music. Sat Kartar played piano at 5, guitar at 14, and picked out everything on piano and guitar, from the Beatles to the Spanish classical "Malaguena".
She trained in ballet, and other dance forms. In college, she was gigging, doing covers of singer-songwriters and folk artists. One big influence was Joni Mitchell, whose open tunings and unusual melodies were a doorway and vicarious permission to explore uncharted territory, musically. Trying to find her lyric voice to express the rising spiritual revolution she felt, in this time, she tried a Kundalini yoga class, hoping for some kind of release from songwriter's block.
Sat Kartar recalls, " My first experience of chanting was being mezmerized with the sound of this yoga teacher, named Livtar Singh, who was singing these words over and over to someone named Guru Ram Das (a spirit guide in the Sikh faith) while playing a drone instrument called a tamboura. " I felt as though I had opened Pandora's Box on a mysterious unknown world of sound." Sat Kartar went on to sing in 2 Sikh spiritual bands, Sat Nam East, one of the first American chant groups, and later the Khalsa String Band.
In the mid-seventies, she began what would be a life study of Northern Indian classical kirtan, with numerous Sikh musicians, called Ragis ( who sing devotionally in Eastern raga scales). "I wanted to bring the enchantment of this world of music to an American audience in a simpler, sensuous form, so Westerners could appreciate the haunting beauty of these ancient scales." In 1984 and '85, collaborating with veteran New Age producer Liv Khalsa, they created 2 timelessly beautiful recordings, "Spirit in Blossom" and "Domain of Shiva," a group of hymns from the sacred Sikh texts, containing 4 raga scales. Symphonically orchestrated and ahead of its time, this music found a new audience, in the early stages of the World and New Age Music movement.
After a period of personal transitions, Sat Kartar's quest for spiritual musical expression found form in a genre of dance electronica, then called Trance House. A chance meeting with musician-producers Akinchina Das and Lalita Dasi, whose background was also Indian classical, turned out to be instant musical chemistry, and the techno group Overlords of the UFO was born. Their vinyl EPs "Imagine" and "Transcendental Overdrive, released in 1994 and 1997 respectively, drew critical acclaim in the international dance and DJ market.
In 2002, Sat Kartar released a CD of chants for starting the day called "Daily Practice" Many spiritual paths have this pre-dawn regime of chants, called sadhana. Produced by Dan Charnas, the soaring gutsy side of her voice is backed with a world music potpourri of djembe, guitar, bass, tamboura, and temple bells. She and her band began extensively touring the Southwest with this CD, and garnered a regional following.
Most recently Sat Kartar teamed with producer Thomas Barquee for her most recent work, FLOW. This CD is more orchestrated and has a pop feel, and includes mantras never before recorded."This recording was a journey of faith into my heart," Khalsa says."I want to live my life more from that place." Come and enjoy Sat Kartar and her band on the road this year and next, with their live kirtan concerts and workshops.