Jai Uttal is a spiritual music composer, blissful singer, instrumentalist, and recording artist. He already earned a Grammy nomination for his music. He was born on June 12, 1951 in the USA. He brings together influences from India and American jazz and rock music to create an inspiring exotic fusion of cultures.
Jai Uttal traveled widely in India giving him the opportunity to meet prominent singers and sages. He eventually became an advocate of Bhakti Yoga. The “Chanting Artist of the Month” emerged as leader, teacher, and performer of Kirtan worldwide for almost five decades. Jai helps many people open up their hearts and voices.
His musical voyage started while Jai was still young. His father is Larry Uttal, recording executive in Manhattan, New York. The youngster easily adopted the Golden Age of Music in the 1950s and 1960s. Jai learned how to play the piano. However, he was more passionate about the banjo and focused on the Appalachian song folklore. His next instrument was the electric guitar inspired by The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
However, Jai’s life-changing experience occurred when he encountered Indian music at the age of 17. He attended a concert of Maestro (Teacher) Ali Akbar Khan and soon after he declared, “This music entered my life as if it were the source of all life.” The time Jai spent with the Maestro changed his relationship to sound and music. He also discovered his singing voice. Singing was necessary for salvation.
Music became a spiritual practice for Jai after meeting the Indian Saint Neem Karoli Baba in 1971. This Maharaiji urged his students and devotees to practice Bhakti Yoga manifested through Kirtan known as the Call and Response chants of sacred mantras. Kirtan turned into the core of Jai’s spiritual and musical life. He calls it “Soul Support System.”
In 2014, Jai Uttal revisited Shiva Station with award-winning composer and producer Ben Leinbach. Jai re-created his 1997 masterpiece to “lead people closer to the music itself with austere and intimate arrangements that light up directly the spiritual heart of each composition.” His newest album is entitled, “Roots, Rock, and Rama.” He performed at Kirtans, festivals and ecstatic concerts. Jai says art exists to promote devotional practice as well as expression.
Jai has a favorite saying which is “Our universe is filled with colors and melodies.” The music of Jai Uttal is extremely popular in the Yoga community. It is often expressed as very hypnotic. Jai explains the purpose of Kirtan and chanting very well. This is what Jai has to say about his music: “The practice of calling to the divine creates a bridge between the individual and the eternal, opening the heart and welcoming the spirit.” Music creates many bridges. Music bonds hearts and societies. It brings peace to most people.