While browsing at Borders earlier today, I came across this CD:
Not to be too stereotypical, but when I saw this album cover my first thought was “I bet that’s not the name her mama gave her.” (Second thought: “I wonder how she pronounces Lakshmi.”)
Through the magic of Google, I quickly found Jaya Lakshmi’s official website once I got home. According to her official bio:
Inspired by the deep devotional mood of Indian singing and music, Jaya Lakshmi began leading kirtan with harmonium and 12 string guitar and writing her own devotional songs in the early 1990’s on the island of Hawaii, shortly after receiving harinam initiation from Srila Govinda Maharaj, a great Vaisnava saint from West Bengal, India, who graciously bestowed on her the name “Jaya Lakshmi”, which means “victory to the goddess Lakshmi”, the Hindu goddess of fortune and spiritual wealth.
What a sentence! Here are some more fun facts about Lakshmi from this concert website. (Minnesota readers: she’s playing in Minneapolis on April 24th!):
[She] made a profound connection to her own Native American ancestry through traditional ceremony and the singing of their powerful medicine songs on the Big Island and Maui, where she moved in 1996. It was on Maui that she met up with Deva Priyo and Om and formed the band Lost at Last, which officially marked the beginning of her professional music career.
In short, Jaya Lakshmi is a Native American who now makes her living recording in Sanskrit. Very interesting. Listening to chanting has never been my cup of chai, but here are some tracks for your perusal.