Chant 4 Change Was Inspiring!
On October 8th I was invited to share my music on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at “Chant 4 Change,” an event celebrating the unification of all people through sacred chant. When I received the booking inquiry from my team, I really didn’t know what to think. The Lincoln Memorial is a huge location and to think I would be able to sing for over 10,000 souls from all faiths just didn’t really make sense to me. Then a few days before the event I received a message from Chant 4 Change that the Dalai Lama himself wrote a letter officially thanking all the artists and volunteers for participating in this event. At that moment I knew that we were making history.
I arrived at the Lincoln memorial on October 8th (one month before election day), with my parents and we were greeted and guided to the green room. In the distance I heard one of the most beautiful voices. I quickly walked over to the stage which was placed right on the lower steps of the memorial where hundreds of people were chanting and singing along with Ajeet Kaur. Her voice and music brought me to a space of total bliss. I was also able to catch performances by Fanna Fi Allah (a sufi chanting collective) who I also saw perform at Bhakti Fest this year. The Juggernauts set featuring Guara Vani and Visvambhar brought thousands of people to their feet with collective chant and dance. I was invited to share my music right after their set.
I walked up on the stage grounded down and looked out at thousands of people. I was facing towards the Reflection Pond and the Washington Memorial. I was joined during my set by my friend Benjy Wertheimer on esraj and tabla. Benjy is the founder of a sacred chant band called Shantala and also performs with Krishna Das, Jai Uttal and other kirtan artists. Both Keshia Halev Fife and Dana Benderson joined me on vocals. I opened with the “Bal Shem Tov Niggun,” calling in the spirit of a Rabbi who could hear the song of the birds and sing the songs of the birds. The BESHT could hear the songs of the waters and yes, sing the songs of the waters. I guided everyone with hebrew chanting songs, some original acoustic songs and an english chant cover by Ben Lee. During the last song I disconnected from the PA and joined the thousands who were singing with me down on the steps below. We were all praying together using our voices as the tools to break us free from the fear and judgment. The human way is to live in the mind. However group chant allows us to travel from the place of the mind to the place of the heart. Did you know Hamakom is one of the names of spirit? Hamakom… (The Place) where all judgement seems to fade and we become ONE voice, ONE being, ONE heart.
After our set i was able to witness “Prayerformances” by Sweet Honey In The Rock, Radhanath Swami, Tina Malia, The Kirtan Rabbi, Mc Yogi and David Newman all artists that have mastered their craft. Every single offering at Chant 4 Change was deeply moving and empowering. To even think that I would be considered let alone included in this cohort of change makers was humbling and a highlight of my lifetime.