Question: Krishna, congratulations on the release of your amazing new CD, One Creator. You’re a long-time Kundalini Yoga teacher, founder of Y.O.G.A. for Youth, regional coordinator of Training for 3HO Africa, and you run Kundalini Yoga teacher trainings all over the world. On top of all that, what inspired you to release a music CD?
Well what’s interesting is that I’ve been singing in this dharma since the day I arrived and I was seen as someone who would always be up there on the stage singing. I used to sing with the Khalsa String band, and in the gurdwaras. I worked with a group of youngsters ages 7-11 and I taught them Gurbani Krtan. But as things evolved I got busy with other things, traveling and teaching yoga.
I never gave the doing music much thought as I became totally engrossed in teaching. But my students began to encourage me to do a CD. I sing sometimes when I teach, and the students said that a CD would be a way to share the teachings, my love of the teachings, and my devotion to the practice. They also said that there might be people in the community who might be drawn to the mantras and songs if they knew I was singing them.
Q: How has being a Kundalini Yoga teacher influenced One Creator?
Yogi Bhajan always used to call on me to sing at times that I least expected. If he felt the need, he would call on me to sing, and I always did it.
I realized it was an important part of me and my prayer. It has become clear to me that through the frequency of the music, I could possible reach the heart of those that I serve more deeply. I want to help give people the tools to work through their challenges and doubts that get into the way of them being 100% themselves.
So it seemed like another way to share the teachings and the beautiful lifestyle that I’ve lived for the past 40 years. I wanted to touch the spirit and the heart all of those I’ve worked with. I feel there’s a need to give some of these songs to the community, as part of my legacy.
Q: Is there a song on One Creator that stands out to you?
Initially I want to say that it’s Ek Ong Kar, because a long time ago, it gave me a lot of clarity in terms of my relationship to God. It was a shabd that was being played in a gurdwara in India that I couldn’t get out of my head. As I kept singing it, it turned into my own rendition of it. It was an expression of longing and searching, and experiencing my relationship with the Divine.
The other one is the last track, You are My Lover Lord. That came out really early in the 1970s and Yogi Bhajan kept having me sing that song. But I never sang it unless he called on me to sing it. It became a challenge for me to sing it without him asking me for it, though I’ve been working through that!
It was difficult to get it on this album because I’d never sang it with musicians playing behind me before. It’s like a prayer, which takes me to a deep place that’s hard to describe. It was something special between he and I that was shared by everyone. Many things come up for me with this song. I feel like I had to do this for him.
Q: Several songs on the CD, including Rakhe Rakhan Har and Oh My Foolish Mind, seem to be influenced by a variety of types of music: blues, soul, jazz… Where did these influences come from?
I don’t know, it’s just who I am. I always have sung in that way. The things that I wrote and interpreted have come from my heart and feelings, my background and influences as a child growing up. These are all elements that make me who I am.
I’m sure that my travels to Africa have influenced me. My first trip to Africa was in 1968 before I met Yogi Bhajan. I had to understand myself more as a Black woman, coming out of the1960s when there was such a large movement to identify oneself. Many Black people probably felt this for the first time, and that made me look more at my own roots and how I was supposed to serve.
I spent a year traveling thru Africa, sitting in villages, grounding myself into the culture, learning, and letting myself be me. It was shortly after that when I returned to the U.S. that I had my first Kundalini yoga class.
Q: Did you have musical influences in your family?
My father was a musician but he died very early in my life. My mother was also a singer in a band back in the early days. The family used to sing and harmonize together a lot. I also spent some time in New York in musical theater. I love to be able to express myself through dance and music.
Q: You’ll be at Sat Nam Fest East next month. Can you talk about what you’ll be doing there?
I’m teaching a class, and I’ll probably be singing a couple of the songs from the album. I’ll have some fantastic musicians who will be backing me up, including Gurumukh Singh, who will be playing some of his own music. We’ll do an amazing kriya, a fabulous meditation, and we’ll connect with each other. I’m really looking forward to it. It will be fun!