Within two weeks of its release, Jai-Jagdeesh’s newest CD, Of Heaven & Earth, hit the top ten on Billboard’s New Age Chart. This is no surprise, given the scope and originality of the music on this album. Jai-Jagdeesh is an artist who infuses all of her songs with a heartfelt passion. Her collaborator on Of Heaven & Earth, Krishan, is one of today’s most creative musicians and producers.
Jai-Jagdeesh grew up with Kundalini Yoga, meditation, and chanting from a very young age. After years as a professional actor and dancer, she decided to dedicate herself completely to her first creative outlet: music. Of Heaven & Earth is her third CD, following the critical success of I am Thine and the release of The Expansive Spirit, part of the Meditations for Transformation Series.
Of Heaven & Earth leads off with a beautiful track simply called “Invocation.” This is a medley of two mantras, Teree Meher Daa Bolnaa and Ek Ong Kar, that both represent beginnings in their own ways. With this song, Jai-Jagdeesh invokes the spirit of Guru Ram Das to carry the sound current. It allows her to let go of herself as the person responsible for creating the music, setting the tone for the rest of the CD.
The second song, “Sarovar,” is one of the highlights of this CD for me. Sarovar means “pool of nectar”, and it refers to the body of water that surrounds the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. The Golden Temple is a very holy site for people of the Sikh tradition. Again invoking Guru Ram Das, Jai-Jagdeesh sings of healing in this beautifully melodic shabd, or hymn.
Of Heaven and Earth includes three songs in English. The first, “Light of Love,” evolved out of a journal entry that Jai-Jagdeesh made when she was in the process of creating I am Thine. This is a gorgeous tribute to human spirit. It sends a simple yet empowering message to the listener that “I can succeed!” “I am everything, great and small”, she sings, “I am the light of love”. Jai-Jagdeesh sings with true passion, and in this song, you can feel her heart open up to the listeners’.
Another English track on this album is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” This iconic song has been recorded by many different artists over the years, and Jai-Jagdeesh’s version stands strong among them as one of the best. The sound of Leonardo Har Prakash’s sitar takes it in a slightly different direction, while Jai-Jagdeesh’s vocal depth carries us to the stars. As a bonus, she even added a third verse of her own.
Jai-Jagdeesh has included two songs that are mantras familiar to students of Kundalini Yoga: Ardas Bhaee and Pavan Pavan. They are both beautiful renditions of these mantras, but they are quite different from one another. Ardas comes across with almost a “pop music” quality, although Jai-Jagdeesh’s vocals are much fuller than what is usually found in pop music. In Pavan, the use of the flute and percussion give it a very light-hearted and fun tempo.
Another upbeat tune is “Raj Yog”, which has a Celtic rhythm. In this song, sitar, violin, piano and drums weave together and give it a very full sound, while still maintaining the uniqueness of each separate instrument.
In the final two tracks on Of Heaven & Earth, Jai-Jagdeesh comes back to the theme of Guru Ram Das. “In Dreams” is a lullaby primarily in English but with Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru woven in. “Guru Ram Das” is a haunting version of the mantra Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru. The flute gives this song an ethereal quality, while a panoply of other instruments fade in and out, all drawn together by the vocals.
With this newest CD, Jai-Jagdeesh continues to develop and evolve into a world-class singer. Her band members, including Tripp Dudley, Krishan, and Leonardo Har Prakash—himself an internationally known sitar player—support her without overshadowing her phenomenal voice. There’s enough variety here to keep it all interesting, and I predict that we’ll be hearing a lot more from Jai-Jagdeesh in the coming years.