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Review of Bada Haridas's new CD, Sri Nama

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To me this is kirtana music at its finest. Why? In my opinion, the primary reason is its transformative affect. One experiences spiritual emotion and one truly “feels” the music coming through what must a very spiritual intention, and the purity and emotional singing of the devotees. It is certainly good music, yet it is much more then just that. I have heard plenty of good devotee music that didn’t move me like this. I am not giving this glowing review lightly.

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I love and am moved more by music than anything else I have encountered. Although I have only played percussion before and after becoming a devotee, my body really vibrates to music. I suppose many people feel this way, and for devotees music is such a big part of our spiritual practice. Still, not all music or even devotee music is equal. I work in a devotee New Age store and listen to all kinds of New Age, World Fusion, Kirtana, Native American and Indian music which for the most part I really like. However, when I am at home or driving I generally listen to spiritual lectures. I am giving this information as a background to sharing my experience with Bada Haridas’s new CD, Sri Nama, which I found to be an exciting spiritual musical journey, causing me to listen to it, when I would normally listen to lectures.

A few weeks ago while returning with my wife from a family therapy symposium we stopped into Alachua and ended up buying Sri Nama to support our devotee friends—though we don’t buy many music CDs. On the nine hour drive home to North Carolina, we ended up listening to this recording four times. Considering how picky we are regarding devotional music this really says a great deal. I have a number of Bada Haridas’s CD which I really like, plus I appreciate chanting with him. However, something about this CD touched our heart like no other. We found it rather amazing! Although it is very professionally done—good music from most perspectives—it is the feeling of this CD that really floored us. Subjective opinion it is, but everyone we have played it for, has really appreciated it.

In some ways the chanting is traditional with prominent harmonium. Yet the backup singing is original and professionally crafted with gifted singers, and the use of Western instruments like an awesome bass and acoustic guitar, piano, cello, and drums combined with flute and tablas make this a fusion kirtana of Eastern and Western instruments. Yet that is only the background for the real meal.

To me this is kirtana music at its finest. Why? In my opinion, the primary reason is its transformative affect. One experiences spiritual emotion and one truly “feels” the music coming through what must a very spiritual intention, and the purity and emotional singing of the devotees. As I said it is certainly good music, yet it is much more then just that. I have heard plenty of good devotee music that didn’t move me like this. I am not giving this glowing review lightly. And if you know Bada Hari Prabhu, he doesn’t have the money to pay me!

Though I have my favorites, I liked every song, and found a great mix of styles and tempos. It is “easy listening”, but also enlivening and exciting, in Bada Hari’s very mellow way. After two weeks of listening, I haven’t grown tired of it, and am content to just listen to it and sing along with the provided lyrics sheet—and I am ordinarily a multi-tasker when it comes to music. CD’s like this give an appropriate application to my name—nectar for the ear—and I might add for the heart.

The first track begins with a familiar kirtana sound on a great rendering of “He Govinda He Gopal”, though soon Bada Hari’s voice and the backup vocals give us a clue that this is a special recording… and each song is special in its own way. By the second song, Kevalastakam, one gets caught up in the quality and heart of this CD—the chorus of “harer namaiva kevalam” really floors me by its moving quality. And even my crustified heart is continually engaged in every song in different ways. Then come the first Maha mantra chant in a Bengali melody that is charming. Radha Krishna Prana Mora, by the great saint, Narottama das Thakur takes me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful sound of just the piano and acoustic guitar—really superb piano.

The next two songs make use of the wonderful sound of Jaya Sita’s mellow cellow to set a tone of somber blissfulness. The Sita Rama mantra should attract many people in the kirtana world who so often give praise to Shri Rama, yet to me this has song the bhakti mood so thick, that it is unique in its ability to move one. The singers are obviously crying out to a person in loving feeling! Next, another Naratama Das Thakur song, this one very high theologically, Kebe Krishna Dhana Pabo, about personal service to the Divine couple, Shri Shri Radha Krishna. Narottama is hankering for such service and lamenting the loss of presence, feeling intense separation.

And the CD winds up with a real foot stomper Hare Krishna chant, popularized by Aindra das. Enthusiastic upbeat back up vocals and lively base guitar and tablas, surround Bada Hari’s classic mellowness, and one is both rocked and relaxed at the same time! This is an uplifting, superlative musical experience that I hardily recommend.

You can listen to this CD and order it at: http://www.badaharidas.com/
In addition you can read Satyaraja’s also glowing review: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1029184510466&mbox_pos=0...