Simrit Kaur embarks on an international tour, sharing spiritual chants with the world
Drawing soulful harmonies from the Greek Orthodox chants she grew up with, Simrit Kaur and her ensemble make music that will take you on a spiritual journey. Their album, Songs of Resilience, stems from a variety of different cultural influences, including Greek, West African, north-western Indian (Punjab) and classical American-European folk music. Simrit’s ensemble consists of Shannon Heiden, who plays the electric cello and guitar; Salif Bamakora, who plays the Kora, a 21-string West African instrument; Tripp Dudley, who plays the percussion, and Jared May who plays electric bass. Kaur plays the harmonia—a pump organ—and sings. May also sings background vocals and, together, Kaur and May sing the harmonies.
Their international tour begins on March 25. Heiden will also open for their show, performing a 15-minute solo piece at every concert. Kaur has been around music her whole life. “I started studying and playing music since I was very little. I sang at the church choir since I was six years old, I learned to read and write music—it’s always been in my blood and definitely in my soul,” Kaur said. However, her music career only began four years ago. “Once I realized I had serious drive to do it, I was super motivated so I put all my energy into it,” she said.
The music of Kaur and her ensemble is all about bringing a variety of cultural sounds together. “We all bring a strong set of influences,” Kaur said. “This music is nothing we’ve ever heard before—it’s incredibly powerful and unique. It inspires you to re-evaluate your ideas and values.” Songs of Resilience, which was released in the fall of 2016, was inspired by the resilience of people. “It’s about life, people, my own resilience—I had an interesting life and I’ve seen and experienced my own resilience in myself. I’ve seen how I’ve grown stronger because of challenges, and I can relate with people because of these challenges,” Kaur said.
She said the songs on this album not only reflect her own resilience, but the resilience of others throughout history. Various peoples, such as the Greeks, First Nations and the Irish have gone through a lot, but they still stand strong, she said. “We carry the blood and lineage of our ancestors. We are no different than they were 1,000 years ago, we are just in a different time,” Kaur said. “This album shares compassion for human beings living on this planet—it’s not an easy place to live.”
According to Kaur, all these chants have the ability to enhance our state of being. “It depends on the person and what kind of state of mind they are in,” she said. The chants in “Prithvi Hai” bring out the greatest power we have on this planet: “the power of the heart,” Kaur said. The song “Sat Narayan” is also sung in Gurmukhi, and represents the element of water. We are 75 per cent water, she said, and so this chant balances the water element within us. “It is a beautiful chant from the heart,” Kaur said.
Another chant from the album, called “Pavan Guru,” another Gurmukhi chant from the album, evokes a supreme life force. “If you need more energy, this is a great chant—you can get a lot of energy listening to this chant while singing it,” Kaur said. The ensemble has toured together many times over the last few years. “I couldn’t ask for a better band. As far as the musicianship, everyone is a master in what they bring. They are incredible people, and that translates into our music. We really enjoy being together on tour,” Kaur said.
Kaur said she is looking forward to the international tour. “I’m eager to be meeting all the amazing fans and the people who are moved by our music,” Kaur said. The ensemble will be performing in Kaur’s hometown of Athens, Greece, on April 14. “We are super excited to go to Europe to experience the ancient buildings, structures, the sights—it’s a beautiful thing to experience all that,” Kaur said.
This will also be the ensemble’s third time performing in Montreal. “We love Montreal, it’s an amazing place. One thing that gets us everytime we go is all the murals everywhere. The murals are incredible, we’ve never seen anything like it,” Kaur said. Kaur and her ensemble will be in Montreal on April 2 at the Cabaret Lion D’Or for a soothing afternoon show at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online for $35.