“Jai Uttal is one of my favorite artists of all time. My love affair with his music began long before I met him, and getting to know him, collaborating with him, and experiencing him perform live have only deepened the sense of endearment I have for this amazing and humble human being.” – Alex King-Harris
Jai Uttal, interviewed by YogiTunes CEO Alex King-Harris
A Pioneer in the World Music Community
Jai Uttal is a Grammy nominated pioneer in the world music community. His eclectic east meets-west sound has put his music at the forefront of the world fusion movement. Jai Uttal’s musical roots embrace a rich variety of cultures and traditions that span the globe and the centuries. From the hillbilly music of the Appalachian Mountains to the passionate strains of Bengali street singers, from the haunting rhythms and melodies of ancient India to contemporary electric rock sounds, Jai’s music distills the essence of diverse musical forms.
As a child in New York City, Jai’s home was filled with music. He began studying classical piano at the age of seven, and later learned to play old time banjo, harmonica, and guitar. His musical interests encompassed a wide variety of styles, and over the years he experimented with many forms of musical expression.
Eventually this led him to the work of India’s National Living Treasure, Ali Akbar Khan. At the age of 19, Jai moved to California to become a student of Khansahib for traditional voice training and to learn the sarod, a 25-stringed Indian instrument. Later he traveled to India where he was deeply inspired by the Bauls, the wandering street musicians of Bengal. Jai settled among them, communicating only through music, which ultimately helped establish his unique style.
During these early visits to India, Jai also met his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and spent time with many great beings of both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He became deeply absorbed in the practice of kirtan, the ancient yoga of chanting, or singing to God. This form of prayer became the core of his musical and spiritual life.