Jai-Jagdeesh lives and breathes through her creativity. Born in the early ’80s to Kundalini yogis RaviInder Kaur and Sat Kartar Singh, she was immediately and completely surrounded by yoga, meditation, and the sacred soundcurrent. A few decades and many adventures later, she’s still surrounded – and gratefully so.
At the age of 6, Jai-Jagdeesh began attending boarding school in India, as a part of Yogi Bhajan’s foreign education program (now Miri Piri Academy). Throughout this adventurous childhood, she dove headfirst into every conceivable creative expression. One year it was photography. Another year it was writing and painting. Throughout high school, it was dance – inspired, of course, by Bollywood films – and with that came a strong desire to learn the craft of acting. But the one constant from year to year was music.
Long before beginning school in India, teeny tiny Jai-Jagdeesh sat down to a harmonium. Her parents, both musical beings themselves, taught her shabds (hymns) of the Sikh faith and mantras of Kundalini yoga. A few years after beginning school overseas, she partnered up with a few other students, forming a jatha (group) that would soon become one of the musical representatives of Miri Piri Academy. They went wherever the school was invited, sharing kirtan at gurdwaras and ashrams all over Northern India, in parades through the streets of Amritsar, and, once a month, at the entrance to the Golden Temple, as requested by Yogi Bhajan to help heal the wounds of the 1984 military attacks that had demolished parts of this sacred site. Jai-Jagdeesh says the experience was “A blessing, but one that I didn’t recognize as a blessing until several years later. I still had some growing up to do.”
After graduating from Miri Piri Academy, Jai-Jagdeesh chose to shift her focus away from music, mantra, and meditation. She went straight back to India, this time to the South, to spend a year immersed in formal Bharatanatyam dance training with C. Radha Krishna in Bangalore. Upon returning to the States and settling in Virginia, Jai-Jagdeesh began to work toward a degree in photography. While in school, she joined the Megha Shakti dance troupe, training and performing with the lovely Christel Stevens of Kalakshetra. And through Christel, Jai-Jagdeesh began working as an actress in the Washington DC theater community.
In 2006, she took a leap of faith; California was calling, and she answered. Joining the International Classical Acting Project in Los Angeles, Jai-Jagdeesh landed in the thick of what she calls “A beautiful community of beautiful people – and amazing opportunities.” She performed with ICAP, auditioned within the Hollywood machine, and worked a 9-to-5, enjoying it all but feeling like something was missing.
Enter Bound Lotus, a beautiful technique in Kundalini yoga that asks the practitioner to twist into something of a pretzel, bow down to the ground, breathe, and surrender. Jai-Jagdeesh felt a strong impulse to let go in this way, and began doing a sadhana (daily practice) of Bound Lotus. It is written that this meditation brings the Universe to the feet of those who practice it. In Jai-Jagdeesh’s case, it brought something even better: GuruGanesha.
An honorary uncle and close family friend for many years, Spirit Voyage founder GuruGanesha Singh was always a champion of Jai-Jagdeesh’s creative pursuits. In the fall of 2008, he was planning a concert tour with then-emerging artist Nirinjan Kaur, and, having been on the touring circuit for almost a decade, knew he wanted to create something different this time around. When a producer suggested inviting Jai-Jagdeesh to open each evening with a dance performance, he picked up the phone. A month later, they were on the road.
The Joy is Now tour was the event that brought “the missing piece” to light. At a concert in Millis, MA, GuruGanesha handed Jai-Jagdeesh a microphone and asked for some support vocals on one of the more upbeat tracks. Simultaneously reluctant and excited, she obliged. And from that very very very small participation came a deep understanding: what she really wanted to do was sing.
Throughout the next 18 months, Jai-Jagdeesh returned to her roots. She began teaching Kundalini yoga several times a week. And she sat down with a harmonium daily, to sing the songs she knew from childhood. Soon the creative floodgates opened up: suddenly and unexpectedly, she had begun composing music. Once again filled with simultaneous reluctance and excitement, she shared a few of her compositions at the Guru Ram Das Ashram Gurdwara (temple) in Los Angeles. Emboldened by the kind words of a few friends and strangers, Jai-Jagdeesh decided to reach out to a music producer she knew, a childhood friend named Krishan. “This,” Jai-Jagdeesh says, “was the best move I ever made. He said yes immediately. I was overjoyed.”
A few months into the recording project, Jai-Jagdeesh joined the Spirit Voyage family of recording artists. Her debut album, ‘I Am Thine’, a combination of sacred mantras and powerful English lyrics, was released in the summer of 2011 to record sales and acclaim. She began touring across the globe and performing at Sat Nam Fests, delighting crowds with her soulful voice and deeply authentic style. She released her first meditation CD of Kundalini mantra, ‘The Expansive Spirit’, as a part of Spirit Voyage’s Meditations for Transformation series in early 2012.
Jai-Jagdeesh continues to record, perform and express her heart’s deepest creativity. With humility, grace and kindness, she brings a bit of dance and lot of love to the world of kirtan.
Agency Catherine Celeste