David Newman aka Durga Das
David Newman or Durga Das, as he is also known, is a Kirtan chant artist, sacred singer songwriter and a practitioner and educator of Bhakti Yoga – the Yoga of Love. David travels extensively sharing Kirtan, devotional music and the spiritual, meditative and musical aspects of Yoga. His music embodies a devotional mysticism, distinctive musicality, poetic intimacy and a joyous, often ecstatic quality. David is a recording artist for White Swan Records, the author of Merging with Grace, and the founder of The Stay Strong Project and Yoga On Main. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife Mira and daughter Tulsi.
Named in OnMilwaukee.com's "100 Milwaukeeans You Need to Know", Ragani has been featured artist FOX 6, in numerous international publications (Recording Magazine, Ode, On Tour With Shure, etc.), and she is the yoga model for the award-winning book, Yoga: Mastering the Basics (and its two accompanying videos). At age eight, Ragani met the legendary yoga master, Swami Rama, former Shankaracharya of India, who personally trained her in yoga sciences, meditation, and eastern music. An award-winning artist and producer with over 25 years of live Kirtan with Ragani events, Ragani also writes music for film & tv (dozens of music placements on The Oprah Winfrey Show, among others), and she currently leads Milwaukee’s Kirtan with Ragani, the largest independent, ongoing kirtan scene in the US. Her story will be featured in the documentary movie, Sutra. Her latest mantra beat song was Love Holds Everything (#1 Top Selling Vocal and Top Selling World at CDBaby, #24 US iTunes World Music Chart).
In 2001, a black and blue streaky-haired 16 year old walked into her first kirtan with Ragani (a local kirtan artist) at a small church on the east side of Milwaukee. Her musical interests at that time included bands like Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Marilyn Manson. Her favorite after-school activity was sitting alone in her room blasting this type of music and writing bad poetry. When Kaita experienced her first kirtan, she remembers a sense of familiarity in the mantras and a feeling that her whole life was making a complete 180. After attending her first chanting event, Kaita became active in the yoga community of Milwaukee, she completed a Yoga Teacher Training and became a massage therapist and Ayurvedic Health Coach. Before attending kirtan, Kaita would never sing, not even in the shower. Now, she is known for her distinctive vocals, has lead kirtan around the country, and released her first album, “Let Go”, in 2011.
Scott started his life in music at the age of 4 after watching Yo-Yo Ma play cello on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Although he asked his parents for "What the man on TV was playing," he got a violin instead. Music has been a part of his life ever since, and along the way, he also picked up the piano, guitar, and mandolin.
Scott has enjoyed sharing his talents with others for decades, and can now be found supporting various Kirtan bands in the Milwaukee area, including Bhakti Union, Kaita, Ryan Hader, Bhavani, as well as his own project, Satya Jaya Kirtan. He has also performed solo at Yoga Rocks The Park, and Friday Night Yoga Club in Milwaukee. He has presented Kirtan with a large band at Milwaukee’s Pridefest in 2015, and is looking forward to his third consecutive year performing at Kirtan Fest Milwaukee in 2017.
Sometime during the last century, Fred Bliffert started the band Freddy and the Freeloaders who became international superstars and toured around the world from Shorewood, WI to Milwaukee's exotic South Side. To further his international status, he moved to Los Angeles on the bequest of David Zucker, to star in the Kentucky Fried Theater. After failing the audition, Fred lived in his Hertz rent-a-truck in various friend's driveways. Fred recorded two albums on major labels, one of which was produced by Al Cooper (not Alice). Al thought that the name Fred Bliffert sounded too much like a white lumber baron, so hence forth, he became known as Freddy Henry. Shortly after that, he moved back to Milwaukee and begged his father for a job as a lumber baron at Bliffert Lumber. He's started playing kirtan with Ragani's band in 2001 and now plays with his daughter Kaita at her second Saturday Kirtan events in Fox Point. Fred performs his own version of Bhakti Yoga at Kirtan Fest Milwaukee every summer, which includes the soulful chants of Self-Realization Fellowship, some of his own songs, and usually ends with a rockin rendition of "Stand By Me".
Sacred Waters Kirtan has been making music out of South Bend, Indiana for nine years. With the powerhouse songwriting and lead vocals of Allen DeSomer, and his Shakti co-leader, Marie Ferraro and a rocking world percussion sound, participants regularly tell the group after attending their kirtans, they feel completely renewed and at peace.
Sacred Waters Kirtan ensemble is a community of musical seekers who combine diverse backgrounds in theology and world religions, music therapy and sound healing, meditation, ecstatic dance, QiGong, and world percussion. But each member has one thing in common: a commitment to serve others through the Yoga of Sound. Using call and response chanting with easy, repetitive melodies and joyous danceable rhythms, the songs set free the chattering mind, deepen the breath, and create a state of calm, where the eternal love that lies in each heart can unfold and open.
Sacred Waters kirtan has played in churches, yoga centers, outdoor festivals, community centers, coffee houses, and venues as diverse as the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Notre Dame, Indiana. In 2013, Sacred Waters Kirtan was featured at an international celebration of Vivekananda's 150th year anniversary hosted by the Vedanta Society of Chicago. It was Sacred Waters' honor to lead a large crowd of swamis, nuns and other interfaith participants from around the world in celebratory song.
Milwaukee Native, Ryan Hader, has been transforming lives and promoting the emergence of the authentic self for over a decade nationwide. Through the mediums of sharing devotional Kirtan music experiences, teaching dynamic yoga classes, facilitating Higher Brain Living sessions, Thai Yoga Massage and the sharing and teaching of Reiki, Ryan’s mission is to help you discover your greatness! As an energy activist, he is here to keep you from playing small in your life. Ryan's message is of the practical application of self love for quantum change. He speaks to the science of awakening as well as the spirit. He is a grounded teacher, healer, and guide who only speaks from direct experience.
A former Heavy Metal frontman turned Yogi- Ryan has been a featured musician at Bhakti Fest and on the Yoga Journal Tour. He has a unique way of weaving the Divine names into song. Ryan’s Soul Stirring Kirtan is highly energetic and deeply moving. His band ‘The Dream Team” accompanies his delivery with beautiful harmonies and on point beats. You are sure to leave his Bhakti Yoga offerings feeling uplifted, open hearted and ready to celebrate your life!
The Bhakti Caravan
The Bhakti Caravan is a group of musicians from the Chicagoland area who mix diverse musical and spiritual backgrounds into a unique blend of sound. Birthed in 2010 by Ellen Radha Katz, the band has included James Hope on bass, Marla Shuman on backup vocals and David Karnes on guitar. Tosho Chakarov joined in percussion. Karishma Kamath and Andrea Klunder on vocals and most recently, Khari Lemuel on cello. The traditional Harmonium, Electric Bass, the Arab Doumbek, Djembe, Electric Guitar, cello and rich, harmonic vocals.
Their traditional Sanskrit chants, arranged and integrated with a variety world music styles embody the vibrations associated with Divine forms. and sentiments of surrender, protection, love and healing. When we play, sing and hear kirtan, we are lifted to a higher part of ourselves. Many believe that chanting is one of the most powerful known ways to elevate your spirit and transform your energy. What was blocked is opened, what was dense becomes light. This music has the ability to take you on an inner journey to a state of incredible joy and mental clarity. People from all walks of life discover Kirtan and fall in love with it. Join us. It is our sheer joy to share Kirtan with you...
It was through the unexpected medium of guru Paramahansa Yogananda and the new and sacred experience of a Ragani kirtan event that Ryan’s desire to chant devotional kirtan was born. After performing blues, rock, and folk concerts for the last 2 decades in bars, theaters, and festivals from LA to NYC, the tour worn musician had finally found a sound and feeling that exposed the deepest longings of his heart. To share sacred music with devotees who were drunk with God’s love was a welcome change from the music scene he grew up in. But sharing this experience publicly proved difficult at first, as he couldn’t finish a chant without crying. Time and courage has helped him step forward and begin to share the sound that has patiently been waiting in his heart.
Ryan lives in Madison, WI and enjoys chanting and singing devotional hymns with his wife Hannah Rose and daughter Arianna Chandra. He has toured with critically acclaimed artists Willy Porter, Raining Jane (of the Jason Mraz band), and Ray White (of the Frank Zappa band).