Manika Kaur’s debut album “Satnam Waheguru” coming out on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 is already receiving a fantastic early media response worldwide, from London to LA.
Already acclaimed throughout Asia and the Middle East, and within the Sikh diaspora, for her beautiful voice and charitable endeavors, Manika Kaur is poised for a worldwide breakthrough in 2014.
Along with singing Kirtan, Manika’s passion is helping others. She is currently supporting the S.O.S Initiative, a humanitarian organization focused on assisting Sikhs in need in Punjab. The S.O.S Initiative focuses on educating children and ensuring that they reach their full potential. Manika has produced a video describing the initiative that is available on her site.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Manika came from a spiritual-oriented home where the family took the responsibility of sharing the teahings of the Sikh Gurus seriously. Her family would have copies of The Guru Granth -- the Sikh Scripture -- brought to Australia and then personally distribute them to Sikh homes across the continent.
“It is impossible to describe the feeling of growing up in such a unique environment” says Manika. “Every night our parents would tell us stories about our Gurus, and then later my brothers, sister and I would have ‘jam sessions’. The boys would play the tabla whilst my sister and I would play the harmonium and sing kirtan. It is the foundation on which I build my life.”
Growing up, Manika always dreamt of combining music, charity work and spirituality.
Manika moved to Dubai after she married in 2006. It would have been easy to slip into a laid-back life in the lap of luxury, but in her words, "I knew I wanted to make a positive contribution to humanity but I had no idea how, so I prayed. ‘Kirtan for Causes’ happened without me even realizing and I feel blessed to be walking this path.”
Graced with a divine voice and writing poetry since she was a little girl, Manika spent a lot of her growing years mimicking her favorite singers, musicians and raagis. Despite her lack of musical training, an Australian producer recorded an English song with her before she moved to Dubai. In Dubai, she recorded some more English music with another producer and went on to win a radio competition (by popular vote) for singing an original composition in December 2008.
Her first recordings were in English with western producers until she met the “Prince of Bhangra” Sukhbir Singh at a social event and that's when Manika's dream of recording an album came to life.
Her debut album Satnam Waheguru, is Manika's offering of beautifully delivered kirtan - shabads (hymns) relaying messages of love, peace and truth.
As is typical in Sukhbir Singh’s productions, Satnam Waheguru features the usual Punjabi folk instruments like the dhol and dholak. The music is complemented by Spanish and Portuguese rhythms, while he also uses instruments like tablas, congos, guitars and keyboards to support Manika’s beautiful voice.
Already a success in the Middle East and Asia Manika’s video for “Guru Ram Das Rakho Sarnaee” has received an amazing worldwide response with over 4½ million views on YouTube. Her prior charitable releases raised over a million dirhams, which helped finance a new gurdwara in Dubai.
Spreading the message has been surprisingly easy for 31-year-old Manika and music is her way of giving something back.
"Music is a wonderful medium through which one can spread any message. God has been really kind to me, and I'm sure I can do more. I have been blessed with a very comfortable life, but I feel that I must do something for those less fortunate than me. And I honestly believe that if each of us can look out for others a little bit more, the world would be a much better place to live in.
“Music has no barriers, which is why it brings people together. At times you don't need to understand it but you feel it. Kirtan has something more extraordinary, when you connect to it; you are connecting to the purest love. This is why people often cry when they listen to or sing kirtan. It is hard to describe the feeling even for someone like me who is unable to fully grasp the true meanings of our Guru's teachings, it feels like floating in a warm pool of light!"