New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Robin Renée didn’t set out to be a voice for spirituality in pop music. But as she has discovered through the course of her indie career, sometimes these things happen. Over the last several years, she has been developing what she calls Mantra-Pop – her own genre of accessible tunes with a spiritual twist. In March she released Live Devotion – her third CD – and the first dedicated wholly to sacred chant. She will perform a solo acoustic show at 7:30pm, Friday, May 25th at The Cave in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Renée will play alt-folk tunes from her first two releases In Progress and All Six Senses, and she also plans to lead a bit of kirtan — a call-and-response style of chanting from the bhakti yoga tradition of India – with easy-to-learn Sanskrit, and perhaps inner peace for all who give it a try. Her concerts bring together uniquely combined audiences of social progressives, rockers, folk fans, and yoga enthusiasts.An awakening moment about five years ago turned Renée’s already mystical gaze eastward. Live Devotion was foreshadowed by mantra-referencing songs like “I’m Coming Down” and “Holy River” from the 2002 release All Six Senses, which was produced by the world-renowned Scott Mathews, who has worked with artists including George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle and many more. Renée first met the emergence of chant in her creative process with an element of surprise, then with a sense of balance.
“I’ve always been a deeply spiritual person, but I kept it somewhat muted and cryptic in the lyrics. It’s exciting to put it out there so freely now- It feels like a natural integration,” she said.
Borne of one inspired recording session in October 2006, Live Devotion features seven long tracks that evoke peace, passion, and the presence of Universal Love. With the sexy, rock feel of "Jai Ma" to the time-honored "Sita Ram" to the fun, multi-part "Om Shanti Krishna," Live Devotion is a fresh take on the ancient practice of kirtan, a call-and-response style of chanting from the Hindu tradition. Most of the songs are sung in easy-to-follow Sanskrit, with some English lyrics thrown in for good measure.
The alt-folk rocker shows her roots on this self-produced effort with acoustic guitar, electric bass (Dave Dreiwitz), and Western melodies. She ventures into exotic instrumentation with the Indian-influenced harmonium, tabla (Ed Feldman), and tampura (David Ellenbogen), and with various percussion including the African udu drum (Karttikeya). Vocalists Kate Evans and Amée add beautiful and skillful harmonies and response vocals to the mix.
Robin Renée appeared at The Cave while on tour in support of In Progress in 2001, and is pleased to return. For more information on Robin Renée and Live Devotion, visit www.robinrenee.com and listen to tracks at www.myspace.com/robinrenee.