Biography of Kirtana

Biography of Kirtana (pronounced Keer-tahna, from the Sanskrit root: kirtan, meaning ‘that which is worthy of uttering')

Born in a small coastal town in Maine, Kirtana received her first guitar at the age of eleven as a Christmas present. It was a Sears Silver Tone. A few months later, after observing her struggles with the steel strings, her parents replaced it with a small Spanish classical guitar. And thus Kirtana's sparse, mostly self-taught, classically-influenced guitar style emerged. Her songwriting began at age eleven also. For many years, her musical performances took place predominantly in her bedroom to an audience of one, as she was content with the self-expression and catharsis songwriting offered.

As a teenager, Kirtana was drawn to reading the books of spiritual masters such as: Yogananda, Ram Dass, Alan Watts etc. She was initiated into Transcendental Meditation at the age of 17 and by twenty-two was teaching meditation in Maine.

After teaching for a year and a half she decided to finish her formal education, begun a few years earlier at the University of Maine at Orono. She graduated three years later from MIU in Iowa with a BA in Literature.

In the early eighties, she moved to California where she has lived ever since, drawing constant nourishment and inspiration from the beauty and energy of the central coast. In 1990, after living for a few years in Big Sur, Kirtana was moved to record some of the songs she had been quietly amassing over the years. Her debut album, Healing Rain, was the result: a collection of ten songs centered around themes of personal healing and transformation.

Her early gigs were at folk venues, opening at first for others (the likes of David Maloney, Ramblin Jack Elliot, etc.) before offering concerts of her own. She was a finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1991, a winner at the Napa Valley Folk Festival in 1992 and a showcasing artist at the 1995 North by Northwest, but eventually her spiritually infused lyrics and odd-sounding name left her feeling somewhat out of place in these more traditional folk venues.

After repeatedly being told that her music was too “New Age” for folk, she began to look for more sacred settings and avenues of distribution, (whereupon she was repeatedly told that her music was “too folk” for New Age.) In 1993 she released her second cd: Parrish Light. (Although her first two cds are officially out of print, these early songs are still available in digital formats). 

With her cd: The Offering, Kirtana’s attention broadened beyond the personal to include concern and prayers for the planet, and her lyrics began to more clearly articulate her desire to fully awaken.

In 1997 she met her beloved teacher: Gangaji, and through Gangaji was exposed to the teachings of Papaji and Ramana Maharshi. The songs from her cd: This Embrace reflect the love and self-recognition sparked by that life-altering encounter.

Her fifth CD, A Deeper Surrender, which has been described by one reviewer as "an exquisite paean to the ineffable longing for the Beloved" and her sixth cd, Falling Awake continue the expression of that deepening.

Her seventh and most recent cd, Unseen Grace, expresses, for Kirtana, a commitment to see all of life as a mirror, and to take full responsibility for the world showing up in her consciousness.

In addition to her own concerts, she performs at conferences, festivals, and New Thought churches around the world. Her music is distributed internationally and has been used by numerous spiritual teachers and noted authors at their workshops, events, and webinars (including those of: Gangaji, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Brandon Bays, Geneen Roth, Richard Miller, and Adyashanti.)

Although her music is typically categorized as New Age Vocal, a more appropriate genre might be: Music for Awakening, Contemporary Sacred, or “Sat-songs.” In Kirtana’s own words, the best description for both her music and her purpose in sharing it is to “celebrate divine love and the truth of who we are.”

She currently lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains surrounded by redwoods.