Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band's New Album UNITY Out Today
From Bhakti Fest to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band have struck peoples' hearts with their soulful, imaginative music that merges mantras, rock, gospel and world grooves into a fresh new idiom.
The New Orleans-based trio - vocalist/harmonium player and band founder Sean Johnson, bassist/guitarist Alvin Young and singer/percussionist Gwendolyn Colman are challenging common perceptions about the nature of yoga music, as they re-invent the soundtrack by mixing ancient Sanskrit mantras from India into a vibrant gumbo of decidedly contemporary flavors. The first and only kirtan ensemble ever to play on the hallowed stages of Louisiana's massive "Jazzfest" gathering, the band is regarded as one of the most distinctive in western devotional music; their dynamic sound has won over widespread fans nationwide and their live performances have transformed yoga studios across America as well as Europe into thriving, ecstatic concert and dance halls.
Unity, the band's third studio album, is a collection of ten unique, soul-stirring songs that reveal the band more at ease than ever with interpreting and expressing spiritual mantra music from the East through the guts and authenticity of their own American roots. The album takes the listener on a revelatory journey through myriad soundscapes that celebrate the universal connection between the world's spiritual traditions from belly dance rhythms, Motown-inspired grooves, back porch guitar stomp, and gospel chorus to trance-inducing eastern strings - brimming with passionate verses from Rumi, tantra yoga sutras, and chants from a variety of spiritual traditions. Some songs are perfect as a playlist for yoga flow practice, while others are superb for simply savoring life at full blast.
Unity is the most seasoned expression of Sean, Alvin, and Gwendolyn's decade of steady touring and creating music together, steeping in each other's diverse influences. The new album takes the band's efforts to build spiritual and musical bridges to a whole new level of musicianship and exuberance. The album also features contributions from producer Chris Rosser (Free Planet Radio) on keyboards, chumbush, and dotar, and from drummer extraordinaire Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit).
Unity was recorded in the fresh mountain air of Asheville, North Carolina, at Sound Temple Studios - a very unique recording facility founded by Robert George. Noted international studio designer Wes Lachot studied the architecture and acoustics of great temples and sacred spaces around the world for many years, an experience that helped him create what was envisioned as literally a "sound temple." In addition to his research, he drew upon such diverse resources as the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, sacred geometry, feng shui, the Five Elements, the Four Directions, the Fibonacci Scale, and the Golden Ratio to help create a very special, sacred "vibe" within a world class recording studio.
Band founder Sean Johnson has been leading kirtan for over eighteen years. Influenced in equal parts by his New Orleans roots, his ancestral Irish heritage, his study of Indian vocal music, and his love of bhakti yoga (the yoga of the heart), Sean is also founder of Wild Lotus Yoga studios in New Orleans, and of Soul School, an interdisciplinary yoga and spirituality training program that focuses on teaching yoga with skill and imagination.
Bass and guitar player and New Orleans' native Alvin Young spent years on the fabled Crescent City music scene playing with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, local legends James Booker and James Black, and many more. His voice on bass and guitar weaves the jazz, rock, classical, and folk styles he's been immersed in for the last 40 years.
Percussionist and singer Gwendolyn Colman brings a unique ethnic sound to the band with years of experience drumming with middle eastern ensembles, flamenco troupes, and avant garde bands. Her percussion dashboard includes frame drums, cajon, high hat, kick drum, doumbek, and karkobs, playing with merging ancient rhythms with a modern, urban flare.
The band continue to keep up a busy touring schedule, with a full itinerary of live appearances scheduled in support of UNITY's release:
Aug 28 Enlighten Yoga - Charlotte NC
Aug 29 Enlightened Elephant @ the Weymouth Mansion - Southern Pines NC
Aug 30-31 Floyd Yoga Jam - Floyd VA
Sept 5-7 Bhakti Fest - Joshua Tree CA
Oct 3 CD Release Party at Cafe Istanbul - New Orleans LA
Oct 3-5 Bhakti On & Off The Mat Weekend Yoga Getaway - New Orleans LA
Oct 23-26 Ojai Yoga Crib - Ojai CA
Oct 26 CD Release Party at Bhakti Yoga Shala - Santa Monica CA
Nov 1 CD Release Party at Laughing Lotus Yoga - San Francisco CA
Nov 2 Grange Performing Arts Center - Sacramento CA
Nov 21-23 Mahabhuta Yoga Festival - Pensacola FL
Dec 27-Jan 1 Bhakti Bliss Retreat at Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health - Lenox MA
1. Ganesha's Belly Dance (Yoga Mantra To Clear Obstacles)
2. Nur Allah Nur (Sufi Bahai World Chants)
3. Remember (Tantra Yoga Groove)
4. The Man In Blue (Back Porch Maha Mantra)
5. The Way Of Love (Rumi plus Kali Mantras for Empowerment)
6. Unity (Rumi plus Sanskrit Peace Mantras)
7. Ramachandra (Unity Version) (Gandhi Chants For Courage)
8. I Will Rise Again (Song of Hope with Sanskrit Mantra)
9. Peace Song (Unity Version) (Music And Mantra For Yoga)
10. I'll Fly Away (Gospel Classic)