A youtube sensation, Dubai-based Monika Kaur visits the UK. We caught up with her…
BY Tasha Mathur
MULTI-TALENTED singer-songwriter Manika Kaur (pictured above, far right) brings her latest album, “I Bow to You Waheguru“, to London audiences with a special one-off concert featuring world class musicians such as Talvin Singh (pictured lower left) and Jyotsna Srikanth (pictured upper left). However, this is no ordinary concert as all proceeds go to Manika’s Kirtan For Causes foundation, which is currently focusing on providing an education to children in Punjab. Youtube helped to establish her and some of her videos have more than a million hits.
Using the beautiful spirituality of kirtan (Sikh devotional singing), Kaur aims to combine the appeal of music to raising awareness of important issues in India. Funded solely by her and her husband, 100 per cent of all proceeds from her latest album and all of her concerts with go to Kaur’s charity, Kirtan For Causes.
And having already raised $300,000 (£191,000+) from her first album, Satnam Waheguru to build a Gurdwara, this proves to be a promising cause. We spoke to her to find out more about the charity and her music.
www.asianculturevulture.com (ACV): What is ‘I Bow To You Waheguru’ about?
Manika Kaur (MK): It’s a spiritual album, which we hope people will get a connection from as well as a feeling of relaxation. There are little rhythms that we’ve placed within the music, which activates parts of the brain that allow you to feel more relaxed and give you that euphoric feeling. You should feel all the molecules in your body completely slow down.
ACV: Where does your inspiration come from when creating your music?
A lot of things influence me. For example, when I was pregnant with my son, I composed ‘Pootaa Mataa’ So he was definitely the inspiration for that track and that idea of becoming a mother and ‘Pootaa Mataa’ means ‘A Mother’s Blessing’. And also, ‘Aukhee Garee’ came out of a painful place but when I opened the Sikh scriptures, I found a passage. I looked up the meaning and felt like something is guiding me. I understood that whatever I’m facing is going to make me stronger. I really feel like God took that moment and turned it into something so positive that I then turned into a beautiful track. And now when I look back, all I remember is the peace and blessing in that moment. There’s no pain there anymore.
ACV: Can you explain more about Kirtan for Causes and how ‘I Bow To You Waheguru’ is linked to it?
MK: My family have been adopting children in Punjab for 10 years. So, once I finished my first album and I realised how much money it raised, I thought, ‘What if I could record another beautiful album and raise money for this cause that I’ve been working on my whole life and make people aware of what’s going on in India?’ So I’m using this platform and medium to shine a light on the problems that they’re facing. It’s a way of opening people’s eyes up to what’s really going on and the problems that these children are facing. That was how Kirtan for Causes came about because I realised that I could do this with every album. ‘I Bow To You Waheguru’ is specifically for educating children in Punjab and all the ticket sales from concerts in Melbourne, Dubai and Bangkok will go towards that.
ACV: And you have a big concert that is being held on August 22nd at Union Chapel…excited?
MK: It’s my first concert of this nature. I’ve never done it all live so I’m really nervous! The concert will be with Talvin Singh, Kirpal and Jyotsna Srikanth. You’re going to be hearing some tracks from ‘I Bow To You Waheguru’ and my first album. I’m also in the studio now to record two new tracks that I’ll be performing there, especially for the concert. It’s just something special for all the people who have made an effort to come. We’ll also have a children’s choir that will be singing with me as well. So we’ll be rehearsing with them, which will be interesting!
ACV: It’s great to hear that you have children performing, as the current generation seem to be losing the spiritual connection with India, especially growing up in the West. What are your thoughts?
MK: It’s only natural that with time, the history and connection erodes with generations if we don’t make an effort to make things more accessible and easy to understand. I know how the prayers that my parents taught me have saved me throughout my life and I want my child to have that. So, if we don’t make things interesting to this generation then we’re letting them down. Don’t force it on them, spread it through love and we can really help that generation to connect. Kirtan is thousands of years old. There’s power behind it like a mantra. So if you really allow yourself to let go and listen to them and let the words go in, it does something to you.
ACV: What’s next for you?
MK: I’m currently working on an EP with Talvin but the concept is top secret! It’s a big project coming up for next couple of years.
I really want to build a girl’s orphanage in Punjab. There are absolutely no girl orphanages so where do they go? It’s not okay to find baby girls thrown in dumpsters. It will be difficult to acquire land with the political situation there but if we ask the universe, maybe the universe will give us.
Tickets are still available for Manika Kaur Kirtan for causes concert http://store.unionchapel.org.uk/events/22-aug-15-manika-kaur–kirtan-for-causes-benefit-concerts-union-chapel
To find out more about Kirtan for Causes please visit: http://manikamusic.com/causes/