Seva CD 2008: The Soundtrack of Kripalu
by Tresca Weinstein
Imagine if the Kripalu experience was encapsulated in musical form, on a CD that you could play in your car, on your iPod, or during your yoga practice. Shaun Laframboise, KYTA’s Special Projects Administrator, imagined it—and created it, selecting music from nine of Kripalu’s best-loved presenters and performers. All of the tracks were donated to the project, and every sale of Seva CD 2008 benefits Kripalu’s Teaching for Diversity program, taking yoga to underserved populations throughout the country and the world.
Shaun LaFramboise, who is also a music producer and a performer with KDZ: The Kripalu Drummers, describes Seva CD 2008 as “the soundtrack for a condensed Kripalu experience.” Produced by KYTA, the disc’s nine tracks range from meditative to uplifting to joyously exuberant, which together evoke what it’s like to spend a day at Kripalu.
“There are tracks that offer that quiet, contemplative morning feel, tracks that are perfect for doing yoga postures, the kind of ecstatic chanting that you might experience in an evening program, and music for deep relaxation,” Shaun says.
The idea for a Seva CD series was germinated back in 2000, when Shaun was working at Kripalu’s Front Desk. He would time his breaks to coincide with the beginning of the evening programs in the Main Hall, and he’d run upstairs to ask whichever drummer, chanter, or singer/songwriter was playing that night if he could record the performance for a compilation of music by Kripalu presenters. Over several years, Shaun accumulated an impressive archive of live performances by well-known musicians as well as emerging artists—but once he threw his energy and talent into performing with and recording for KDZ, the project was shelved.
In 2006, Shaun joined the staff of KYTA and learned that the association creates four resource CDs each year for its members. Shaun and Vandita decided a Kripalu musical compilation would be a perfect fit, to serve as a resource for yoga teachers to use in classes and for their own practice while offering the featured artists additional exposure. It could also benefit a third group: the populations served by the Teaching for Diversity (TFD) program.
Through the TFD program, members of KYTA and the International Association of Black Yoga Teachers (IABYT) receive grants and scholarships to teach in disadvantaged schools or to diverse populations such as ethnic minorities and those who are socially, economically, or physically challenged. Since the program’s founding in 2001, $40,000 in TFD grants has supported hundreds of yoga teachers in bringing the benefits of yoga to populations such as cancer survivors, homeless people, teenage mothers, inner-city children, and many, many more.
The musicians who contributed to the project donated their work, thus giving the CD its name (seva is Sanskrit for “selfless service.”) “Every single artist I approached said yes,” Shaun recalls. “Being part of a community of musicians and knowing you’re doing something good with your music is such a great feeling—and at the same time, you’re reaching people who might not have otherwise heard of you.”
The first edition of what will be an annual series of Seva CDs features atmospheric music from Chris Brenne and Mark Kelso; soulful song from Wah!, Bhavani Lorraine Nelson, and Rich Goodhart; transporting kirtan from Sruti Ram and Ishwari—and, of course, totally danceable drumming by KDZ.
“Since we sent it to our KYTA members in January, we’ve had numerous responses from yoga teachers who say they use the CD straight through, from start to finish, for their classes, and from others who say they haven’t taken it out of their CD player since they got it,” Shaun says. “There’s so much amazing music that comes through Kripalu, and so many amazing artists, and unless you’re here all the time like the staff are, you don’t get to hear all of it. The Seva CD 2008 is an opportunity to hear just a thin slice of some of the fantastic talent that comes through here every few days.”