Blessed with a voice so pure it permeates your body and washes away your troubles in one soothing note, Manika Kaur is a rare and gifted soul. Her songs are songs of true devotion and her mission is to heal the world with her voice, as Manika says, hers are “Kirtan for Causes”.
Her recent Guru Ram Das Rakho Sarnaee video has received an amazing worldwide response for its artistic and musical content on YouTube and all proceeds from her music go to charity. Born and raised in Australia, Manika came from an extremely spiritual home where the family was, quite literally, responsible for spreading the teachings of the Sikh founder Guru Nanak Dev ji. Holy books would be delivered to their home and they would personally deliver them to the Sikh community across Australia, often stopping to join in song before they left. “The whole experience was divine. Every night our parents would tell us stories about our Guru’s, and then later my brothers, sister and I would have “jam sessions”. The boys would play the tablas whilst my sister and I would play the harmonium and sing bhajans” says Manika. Manika listened intently to many Ragi’s, learnt to mimick her favorite singers and began writing poetry and while she had no formal training she soon became a gifted singer and began songwriting.
Her first recordings were in English with western producers until she met bhangra pop star Sukhbir Singh at a social event and that’s when Manika’s dream of recording an album came to life. Bandhanaa is Manika’s offering of beautifully delivered Kirtan – devotional chants and hymns relaying messages of love, peace and truth. While the shabads are traditional, the album has a distinctly laid back feel with tracks that transport you to a beautiful island. And just as the sun would soak your skin and the waves would wash over you, so does her enchanting voice that soars and glides like a bird. Sukhbir’s production brings Indian and Western instruments together to create a universal sound and even for those that don’t speak the language, the message is crystal clear and very pure.
Every last penny raised through Manika’s music is donated to help others less fortunate than herself or to building new Sikh temples that offer a place for her community to share, learn and practice their faith. Bandhannaa raised over a million dirhams, which helped finance, a new Gurdwara in Dubai where Manika lives and the proceeds from her next album are earmarked to help educate children from the rural parts of Punjab.
Spreading the message has been surprisingly easy for 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 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!”