Kathryn E. Livingston
Join Ramdesh and extraordinary kirtan artist David Newman (Durga Das) for a heart-to-heart about his music and new album, Travel Well. The show opens with the uplifting track “Sri Guru Sharanam.” The album itself has been traveling up the charts!
The CD was recorded in a studio but many of the performances were captured live. Newman brought musicians into the studio from across the globe to join together and have “loads of fun and to express the unity of our connection as musicians and friends and to make some great music that touches people’s hearts.” He then went to New York and added horns and strings. David notes that his last CD was more of an inward, reflective record; Travel Well has a celebratory spirit although it also includes some meditative pieces.
Next is “Jai Hanuman!” in honor of the patron deity of strength through devotion and selfless service. “This track is a celebration of that spirit and of the good feelings we get when we serve and keep our hearts open to help others,” David says. The track features an Afro Caribbean beat and a full horn section. This lively, fun piece is sure to get you dancing and chanting!
On a solemn note, David was motivated to write the title track “Travel Well” following the 2012 Newton, Connecticut shootings. He had recently become a father, and he felt a need to heal his sorrow by expressing himself with his music, hoping to instigate some healing for himself and for the planet. The song “Travel Well” came forward as a poignant tribute and a way to send out prayers. Using music to heal and comfort is common throughout history, Ramdesh points out. “Music helps us to bring us into our hearts,” David explains, “and when we live in our hearts we are in a place of healing; it enables us to see the big picture.” The connection to those we love can never be severed: “Though the form may change that thread of love continues,” David believes.
Included in this song is a Sanskrit mantra, asato ma sadgamaya, which is a prayer that translates “lead us from untruth to truth, lead us from darkness to the light and lead us from death to immortality.“ The mantra goes hand in hand with this tender tribute to the souls who transformed that day.
Sacred chant is a “choiceless choice,” and it’s how he’s called to serve, David observes. He and Ramdesh explore this theme of how you’re called to serve in the track “New You.” Says Ramdesh, the theme fits perfectly with the New Year and the potential we have to change our old habits and become the person that we came here to be.
“New You” is about being who we are, letting go of being someone else, learning to be true to ourselves. The song explores the decision to let go of the old us, “shedding a skin or breaking out of a cocoon,” making the choice simply to be authentic.
What’s David’s favorite track on the album? “That’s kind of like asking who is your favorite child,” says David. “Different pieces are special to me in different ways.” But he admits he especially enjoyed making a fun kirtan piece that was his first attempt at reggae. Listen to “Roots Radhe,” a sacred chant of inspiration devotion, joy and bliss.
Tune into this intimate conversation and get to know this kind and gentle kirtan artist who travels the world offering the gift of beautiful, heart-centered music.