Can You Sing Om?

Western practitioners are putting a new spin on the call-and-response yogic chant known as kirtan

Even if he wanted to, the musician who calls himself Krishna Das could not hide the fact that he was born on Long Island as Jeff Kagel. For one thing, there's his undeniably white skin, and when he sings in Hindi or Sanskrit, he does so with an undeniably American accent. But Das, who is known as K.D., has no desire to hide his New York roots or the fact that his musical style owes as much to the blues as to his Indian guru, Neem Karoli Baba.

K.D. is a practitioner of kirtan, devotional chanting, which originated as a...

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