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Q&A with Chant4Change Founder, Gaura Vani

Gaura VaniThe founder and chief organizer of Chant4Change is world musician Gaura Vani. Growing up in ashrams across the globe, he absorbed the music of Hindu temples as a child, joyfully singing kirtan praise music in many languages. Throughout his travels, he has studied both modern and traditional instruments, including the guitar, organ, harmonium, bamboo flute, and many types of percussion instruments.

Gaura Vani’s performances always involve the audience and invite them to join in the singing and chanting of mantras as a way to experience connection to each other and to the Divine. He has performed with many groups over the years, including As Kindred Spirits and Hanumen. At Chant4Change, Gaura Vani performs with mantra music collective The Juggernauts.

Q: How did Chant4Change come to be?

A: “The first Chant4Change was held during the 1st Obama inauguration, at a church down the street from the White House. We pulled it together in just three months! It was focused on the chant, the mantra. It was more of a celebration. Eight years later, we feel the narrative needs to be more about the unity that is possible in diversity. We were wanting to do something more positive in the middle of what is otherwise a very negative election season.
To sing together, we have to listen to each other. That is why we are doing this event as multi-denominational. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists — everyone is welcome. We were created to do the best for each other and the world, in service. This is one way we can serve.”

Q: You said the event is to be multi-denominational. Describe your own religious tradition, and kirtan music.

A: “I come from a monotheistic tradition of Hinduism. The emphasis is on the eternality of consciousness. God is worshiped as a divine couple, as a mother and a father, the source of all creation, the feminine and masculine, the lover and the beloved. The love of Radha and Krishna is the source of life, the source of beauty. Kirtan is naming the Divine. Like David in the Christian Bible said, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” By naming God we are making contact with the Divine. Many religious traditions do this.
There is beautiful poetry about that in Islam, Buddhists call out the name of the Divine, and in the tradition I was raised in, we say God has unlimited names because God has unlimited qualities. Kirtan means praise music, it’s to glorify the Lord.
My Kirtan is sung in Sanskrit; in Pali, the language of Buddhism; in Hebrew, and in English. I grew up in a strict traditional Hindu sect. Christian gospel music sounds to me like kirtan.
Music for me is a gateway to another vision of reality, directly connected to spirit. When I write a song, I feel like it’s coming from another place, like I am channeling it. The purpose of life is to love and to serve all of God’s creatures. I am eager to share that world with my audience, and I am eager to build a community of unity and diversity.”

Q: Why do you think music can affect the national political discussion?

A: “Chant music can be a powerful force for change. To sing together, we have to listen to each other. You cannot take Black Lives Matters by itself, to its logical conclusion. You cannot take the position of the Fraternal Order of Police by itself, to its logical conclusion. We have to listen to each other. Music offers a way to come together and to listen. Through the process of preparing for Chant4Change I’ve learned some amazing things. In Estonia, they called it “the Singing Revolution.” With the fall of communism around 1990, Estonians had no army and they were worried they would be subsumed in war. So the people went into the street and engaged in song, in singing forbidden songs, and it seemed to keep war away. Another thing I’ve learned: Martin Luther King, Jr. was not planning to give the “I Have a Dream” speech that day 53 years ago. He had a canned speech written by his team. Mahalia Jackson, she is a chanter, a great gospel singer, she told him to go off-script and tell the people about his dream. Sacred song is such a central part of people’s struggle. The situation we are facing as a globe cannot be solved alone. We have to listen to one another.”

Images to Share on Social Media

Thank you so much for your willingness to support us as we come together in such a pivotal time of need. This event is incredibly important to us, and only through all of us working toward the same goal will we truly author the change we hope to see.

One of the first things you may ask yourself is, “How can I help?”. The easiest ways for you to help is to truly take ownership of this event. This event is yours, just as much as it is ours. We have volunteers putting in the work to make sure this event happens, we have even created imagery and details, to make sharing this event simple…but please don’t stop there. We need you to do Facebook Live videos, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Twitter…whatever you use, take it to the next level. Send out personal emails, create your own content, and let all your friends know that October 8th will be a day for Change.

In the short period of time leading up to the event, we ask that you help us begin to share our vision with the world.

Below, you will find some images you can use to share. Please also link to our Facebook page: and remember, it is only through donations that this event is possible:–2



































Chant 4 Change announces October 8th artist lineup

One month before Election Day, Chant4Change presents a multicultural, multi-denominational festival of music and spirit at the Lincoln Memorial, between 12 pm and 10 pm on Oct. 8. The ten-hour event is dedicated to healing and uniting the nation through song, prayer and devotion. More than a dozen leading artists and thinkers will perform sacred music and give talks countering the messages of hate and division that have dominated the 2016 election season.

Performers include:
Grammy-winning Sweet Honey in the Rock, an a-capella gospel/jazz/spiritual ensemble that has inspired audiences worldwide. 

”Kirtan Rabbi” Andrew Hahn, who performs mystical Hebrew chants in dreamy loops and hypnotic world rhythms. 

Gaura Vani, of Juggernauts and the Hanumen, whose audience-engaging world beat/Kirtan sounds reflect his upbringing at Hindu – Hare Krishna ashrams worldwide.

Jai Uttal, a Grammy-nominated pioneer in the world music community.

Fanna-FI Allah, a Sufi Muslim group whose ecstatic, trance-like vibe celebrates the love of the Divine through poetry. 

MC Yogi, a musical pioneer who has created a new genre of yoga-inspired hip hop.

Linda Larkin, the original and current voice of Princess Jasmine in Walt Disney’s Aladdin.

Tina Malia, an etherial singer-songwriter-instrumentalist whose music defies labels and embraces multiple cultures and spiritual traditions.

Mikey Pauker, a Folk/World artist whose music written in Hebrew, English and Sanskrit has been described as “Medicine Music.”

Others appearing at the donation-based, non-profit festival include New Age/World Music chart-topper Ajeet Kaur, and Cherokee musician and storyteller Yona FrenchHawk. In addition, confirmed presenters include Radhanath Swami, author of the New York Times best-seller, “The Journey Within,” and Yoga Alliance Chief Ambassador Andrew Tanner. 

Over the centuries, people of many lands and cultures have chanted and sung together to give voice to their yearnings for peace. Chanting and singing bonds us to one another and builds community, something sorely needed now, amid this divisive presidential election. On the same steps where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his powerful, “I Have a Dream,” speech 53 years ago, #Chant4Change offers a beautiful reminder to the world that mankind can and must live in harmony together.
Sponsors include the Call and Response Foundation, Yoga Alliance, Gaura Vani LLC, Beloved Yoga, Skip Maselli, and Mannabliss, LLC.

Visit to become a sponsor, to volunteer, and to pledge to attend. 

Social media: #Chant4Change
Twitter: @Chant4Change