Hailed as “one of the best kept secrets in the chant world,” Lee (Mirabai) Harrington is emerging as one of the most powerful and unique vocalists in the mantra music/kirtan scene. A self-described “spiritual hybrid,” Lee practices Tibetan Buddhism, bhakti yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Her primary practice is the Buddhist path of mantrayana (liberation through sound) and her decades-long passion for—and commitment to—the healing power of mantras has led her to explore chants from many ancient traditions, including Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Native American, shamanistic, Taoist, Sufi, and ancient Christian.

She fell in love with kirtan in 2003 when she moved to Woodstock, NY—an area considered to be the epicenter of kirtan on the East Coast. “Chanting mantras in monotone is terrific and so beneficial,” she says. “But singing mantras to beautiful melodies at the top of your lungs is something else altogether.” It was in this blissful setting that Lee finally shed her lifelong terror of singing in front of other people. “In kirtan, you sing from the heart, to the divine. It doesn’t matter how you sound, because to sing from the heart is to sing purely. That approach was very liberating for me, because I was incredibly shy.”


From that point on, her world changed. (“That’s what happens when one discovers one’s voice.”) She received invitations to sing in rock bands, gospel choirs, and kirtan groups and was encouraged to lead kirtan herself.  As for the latter, she felt it was important to truly know and inhabit each mantra before leading others into them. Thus, she continued to sing in kirtan response choirs and/or as a backing vocalist for several years before leading any kirtans herself.  She has sung or recorded with such kirtan luminaries as Gaura Vani, Brenda McMorrow, Adam Bauer, Anthony Molina, SRI Kirtan, Ilan Chester, Radharani, Drukmo Gyal Dakini, Chimey Lhatso, and many more.


Once she got a clear message from her gurus that it was time to start leading kirtans and recording her own mantra music, dozens of songs began to arise spontaneously. “I don’t have any musical training and don’t consider myself a composer, but these songs seem to appear in my consciousness fully formed. Often the songs would arise in my dream-state, or when I was out walking in nature and reciting mantras alongside my dog.”


Lee worked with those particular mantra-songs for two more years before recording them, and even obtained special permission from her Tibetan Rinpoche to lead and record the Buddhist mantras, making sure she received the appropriate empowerments, teachings and transmissions beforehand.  “It’s important that my music carry authentic sound currents. To me, the vibration of the mantra music is more important than how the album sounds. It’s also important to honor the lineage of the mantra...even if it’s manifesting as a disco song.”


The result is her first album: BEYOND THE BEYOND: A Mantra Music Experience (February 2016). This high-spirited, up-tempo “sampler” combines the metta and wisdom energies of Buddhist mantras with the heart-opening euphoria of the devotional Bhakti tradition and the scientific precision of Gurmukhi mantra. In April 2015, in honor of His Holiness Karmapa’s visit to the US, Lee released a limited-edition EP of the three Buddhist tracks (INTO THE BEYOND), donating a portion of proceeds to Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery.  

Lee’s voice has been described as mesmerizing, majestic, healing, other-worldly, transcendent. Lee, leading kirtan is not a performance, but rather a truly spiritual, devotional and healing experience. She believes that each of us has the power and ability to heal the self—and countless others—through our own unique voices and through these mantras.


She dedicates the merit of her music and of all her spiritual practices to all sentient beings. www.leeharringtonmantramusic.com




Name is needed for leaving comments. Email and website are options.

Lee Mirabai Harrington