Indian American musician Sheela Bringi has been exploring the connections between her ancestral and actual homelands her entire life. The talented young singer and multi-instrumentalist plays a 36-string harp, the Indian harmonium and bansuri (Indian bamboo flute).
As a young woman Bringi was influenced by M.I.A. and Dead Can Dance, studied with Cecil Taylor and Meredith Monk, while at the same time deepened her studies with Indian classical masters like Pandit G.S. Sachdev and Ustaad Aashish Khan. “Studying with these innovators and maestros cracked my musical world wide open,” she says. “It helped me develop a sense of where music traditions might bend, and where they might break. This sense is necessary if you hope to reshape and re-imagine old music.”
India’s two-century journey into Western consciousness has assumed many forms, from the itinerant beauty of the land’s classical music, championed by late sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, to the 20 million+ Americans down-dogging on yoga mats daily. Bringi straddles the entire range: she has performed in concert halls and universities presenting traditional material, yoga studios leading kirtans and in dance clubs overtop throbbing, bass-heavy beats. Her invigorating openness to possibility is helping to further the classical tradition without diluting its meaning and sense of personal and communal worship.
“My music is about accessing a place of mystery and divinity,” says Bringi. Her harp, harmonium and bansuri create an exquisite sonic foundation for her unique singing of ancient Sanskrit mantras—a practice as musically pleasing as it is culturally progressive.
Sheela’s mother, Sreedevi, a Professor of Hinduism, Sanskrit and Yoga Studies at Boulder’s Naropa University, learned Vedic chanting from her grand uncle, who was a famous Sanskrit scholar in the former King of Mysore’s court in South India. Once reserved for only men to study, the groundbreaking Sreedevi passed along the recitation of these mystical spiritual teachings to her daughter.
Sheela’s unique vision brings new life to these millennia-old lyrics. New Earth Records is thrilled to welcome Sheela to the family!