Today we feel very honored to announce the release of “World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda”. Thanks to the family of John & Alice Coltrane, we will be presenting what is perhaps the most surprising part of her august career: the music she made for the members of Sai Anantam Ashram in California.
As some of you may know, Alice Coltrane was a legendary pianist, composer, spiritual leader, and the wife of John Coltrane, the most venerated and influential saxophonist in the history of jazz. In 1967, four years after meeting John, he died of liver cancer, leaving Alice a widow with four small children. Bereft of her soul mate, Alice suffered sleepless nights and severe weight loss. At her worst, she weighed only 95 pounds. She had hallucinations in which trees spoke, various beings existed on astral planes, and the sounds of “a planetary ether” spun through her brain, knocking her into a frightening unconsciousness.
The critical event of this period was not that Alice fell into the nadir of her existence, but rather that she experienced tapas, a vital period of trial. These tapas (a Sanskrit term she used to describe her suffering) helped prepare Alice for the spiritual ally she found in Swami Satchidananda, an Indian guru, with whom Alice made her first trip to India. On her second trip there, Alice had a revelation instructing her to abandon the secular life and become a spiritual teacher in the Hindu tradition – so she moved out West – eventually opening the Shanti Anantam Ashram on 47 acres she’d bought in Agoura Hills, California.
Music was the foundation of Alice’s spiritual practice. From the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s, Alice Coltrane self-released four brilliant cassette albums. These cassettes contained a music she invented, inspired by the gospel music of the Detroit churches she grew up in, mixed together with the Indian devotional music of her religious practice, and even finds Alice singing for the first time in her recorded catalog. Originally only made available through her ashram, they are her most obscure body of work and possibly the greatest reflection of her soul.
On May 5, 2017, we will release “World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda”, the first-ever compilation of her recordings from this period, making these songs available to the wider public. It is the beginning of a new series of spiritual music from around the globe, which we have been working on the past year. Now more than ever, we feel that the need is there for something like this. Maybe you feel the same?
Ten years after Alice’s passing, and what would have been her 80th year, we will be celebrating her music and spirit – starting with this release. In a short period of time, we will announce further plans as part of this celebration. It has been a wonderful experience working on this so far, and we have come to learn and meet many incredible people along the way. We sincerely hope you will feel welcome to join us on this journey.
The album will be available on a double LP (with the first pressing having two extra books of notes), a hard bound CD (with a 48 page booklet), digitally and — in spirit of her original releases – a cassette, our first ever such release since 1999.
The vinyl edition will feature two additional songs, including the previously unreleased “Rama Katha” from an earlier ‘Turiya Sings’ recording session. If you like, you can pre-order the various versions of the album here.
Thanks for your time and, again, we hope you feel welcome to take part of this journey with us.
Loving for a better world.