New Orleans mantra musicians Sean Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band are a critically acclaimed kirtan trio appreciated equally for the spiritual depth and dynamic musicality of their sound. Yoga Journal has praised the band, “A joy to listen to whether you’re a yogi or anyone who appreciates wildly creative music.” Yoga Chicago says, "Their kirtan will ignite the world...a hybrid of East and West that will bring joy to your heart and get your body boogieing."
The band’s unique music is a savory potion for the spirit, evocatively blending the elixir of ancient eastern mantras with western musical taste, passionate vocals, funky grooves, and dreamy melodies. Their unique approach to chant music transcends genres—shades of rock, jazz, funk, choral, Indian, Irish, Middle Eastern, and folk styles merge effortlessly with the magic of the mantras. Yoga City NYC says, “Their music is capable of being energetic, grounding, mellow, tender, sweet- eerie, rapturous and blissful all at once.” They express kirtan with guts and soul and are not afraid to explore the darker shades of the heart which makes their brighter material even more transcendent.
Vocalist and harmonium player Sean Johnson is the founder of the band. He’s been leading kirtan across the U.S. and abroad for over a decade. His soul-stirring voice is equally influenced by vocal exploration of his ancestral Irish heritage as well as study in Indian vocal music and love of the path of bhakti yoga-- the yoga of the heart. Sean is also the founder of Wild Lotus Yoga Studio and Soul School, a yoga and spirituality teacher training program in his native New Orleans. He has a Master’s degree from The Naropa Institute with a focus on teaching chant as spiritual practice. He shares the practice of mantra in an inviting and accessible way that taps into the universal spirit of life and music- weaving stories, myths, and poetry. Grammy nominated kirtan artist Jai Uttal says “Sean’s voice is a warm, soothing river of serenity.” From time to time, Sean also contributes a little beatbox to the band's eclectic musical mix-- honed as a youth in New Orleans' public schools in the early days of hip hop.
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 35 years. Alvin's playing is incredibly funky, bringing a modern aesthetic to the ancient spirit of kirtan. The hallmark of Alvin's expression on the bass is a rare and deeply melodic quality that illuminates the trio's sound. Music has been a pivotal part of Alvin’s spiritual journey.
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 ‘ride’ includes frame drums, cajon, high hat, kick drum, doumbek, and karkobs, playing with merging ancient rhythms with a modern, urban flare. Gwendolyn can move seamlessly from a traditional middle eastern trance rhythm, to subtle jazz brushwork, to a New Orleans hip hop street groove. Her powerful vocals are influenced by early opera training. Gwendolyn’s spiritual quest has led her from Rastafarian to Baha'i to yoga - with the heartbeat of her drum always at the center.
Together Sean, Alvin, and Gwendolyn create a contemporary world-spirit music that evokes the magic and mystical feelings first stirred in the pioneering golden age of East-West musical exploration in the 1960's. The soul of New Orleans meets the spirit of India.
Sean Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band's 2007 release Calling The Spirits, with its funky, tropical kirtan sound, has become a big hit in the yoga world. Their rocking, groove-driven Nettwerk/Nutone debut Devaloka to be released in September 2009 promises to expand their ever-widening audience.
The band tours worldwide playing at festivals, theatres, yoga studios, retreat centers, and yoga conferences.