Fixation = understatement, when it comes to “Withdraw” by 22-year-old singer & songwriter, Kimbra Johnson. Just as I can’t keep this song out of my head, I can’t resist sharing my obsession with it any longer!

I haven’t seen a performance this moving and passion-filled in a long time. She simply pours her heart and soul out while fully exposing her ground-shaking vocals. This is raw emotion; raw expression with no limit. While it’s apparent just how incredibly talented this New Zealand-born vocalist is, she fascinates me even further with her unique style. She doesn’t quite fit in any single genre, opts instead for a blend of jazz, old school r&b and soul groove with an indie-pop finish – AKA best combination ever! It’s like all my worlds colliding into one perfect one. Think: Maxwell meets Sia.

Great song, amazing performance. Back to repeat, for now 🙂

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New Common: “Windows”

December 20, 2011

Though It doesn’t take much to love anything that comes from Common’s mouth, I’m especially loving track #10, “windows”, from his latest album, “The Dream/The Believer”. This song has a soulful r&b piece to it, accompanied by a meaningful set of lyrics.

This past year, the idea of the soul being constant and having all the answers has become a focal point in my spiritual journey. Lately I’ve been trying to look at everyone as a pure soul: an equal soul who is just like me. This is why I love the hook (by, James Fauntleroy) in this song, “In your eyes I can see your soul staring back into mine”; there’s a beautiful feeling of hope, comfort and connecting of souls in the entire chorus and especially in that line.

As we move on to Common’s lyrics, “Shhh, to your soul just listen,” it really shines on the idea of listening to your intuition and ignoring all of the noise. I think this song has a couple of components to it which all come together for a similar theme: faith. He talks about a woman who has been scarred from past relationships and struggles to have faith in finding love again. He then goes on to encourage her to start over again: “Even when the door closes, there goes a new one”. In the second verse, he talks about his daughter who he wants to guide in the right direction to ensure that she doesn’t lose faith, like so many of us do. It’s a sweet song with such a positive message.

What I’ve always loved about common is that he really understands women on a spiritual level; he continuously writes tracks about respecting women, a woman’s struggles, and a woman’s needs.  He really puts himself in our shoes and  guides us. His lyrics are empowering to women. Overall, common has so much soul in all of his songs and its very apparent. Check out this Okay Player Exclusive Interview on “windows” for more on his intent with this song.

The Soul is like the sun.

September 27, 2011

Coming from a Jain family, Jainism has played a very significant role in my spiritual journey and has influenced me greatly. To me, this religion makes sense.

The main topic that comes up when it comes to Jainism is, the Soul.  According to Jainism, we are all Souls – we are not our bodies, not our possessions, not our emotions – we are Souls. The Soul is characterized as perfect and pure with infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite perception. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten some great small lessons about this very topic and would love to share!

Most Jains will tell you that understanding the true nature of the Soul is the most difficult task when practicing Jainism. It’s the most important part and the most difficult part! This is why you can never get enough lessons on it.

Two weeks ago, I went to visit my family in NJ and was fortunate enough to revisit this topic. We are always searching for happiness and are always thinking about our miseries. The Soul is whole and complete as it is. It is full of happiness. It is not sad, mad, lonely, bored, unhappy, anxious, etc. It is difficult to think about it that way but, for me, it helps put life into perspective and helps me be peaceful and non-resistant to the momentary miseries/discomforts I may face. When I notice myself getting irritated or worrisome or sad, I try to bring myself back to the moment and remember that my soul is none of these things. This is very challenging and hard to apply to my life but I can only try to be more conscious.

So what did I learn in NJ to help me follow this? I got a very brilliant analogy: The Soul is like the sun. Just like the Soul, the sun is whole, complete, bright, powerful, everlasting, and perfect. Just like a Soul, the nature of the sun never changes – a few clouds may cover it for a while but, behind the clouds, lies a perfect and pure sun. Similarly, behind all the sadness, greed, anger, jealousy, etc., lies a perfect and pure Soul who feels none of these things. To get even deeper, all of these feelings have caused us to accumulate more and more karmas which, in turn, blurry our vision and keep us from seeing our true souls,  just as the clouds do to the sun.

So then, I was having breakfast with my mom this morning and she gave me another powerful analogy: The Soul is like the ocean. To keep it simple, if you think about the ocean for second, there is so much commotion and noise close to the shore but in the middle of the ocean, there is nothing but peace and purity. Similarly, our souls are peaceful and pure within but there is so much commotion outside of us which makes it harder for us to see and feel the peace and purity within us.

It’s hard to keep the conversation of the Soul short but that is all for now! These analogies help this challenging (understatement) topic get a little clearer for me – maybe it will for you, as well. Thanks for reading 😉 Jai Jinendra.

Wow! I haven’t heard a voice this good in a very long time. Her voice gives me chills. It is absolutely flawless and effortless – she just simply sits there, opens her mouth and this beautiful voice just falls out. Even though there are so many amazing artists in the indie pop world, I think she really stands out and steps it up because of the pureness and flawlessness in her voice; it’s soft and smooth yet so powerful and captivating at the same time. Also, as she mentioned in an interview, she has a strong influence from r&b which I think adds uniqueness and a different level of soulfulness to her music. I plan to explore her music much further and hope to one day see her live.

Miguel Jontel: one of my favorite new r&b artists & songwriters. Miguel is one of the best things that’s happened to modern r&b in a while. His music has an old school/ underground r&b flavor to it which I absolutely adore. The first song I’d heard of his was “All I want is you”, which definitely got my attention and had me rock’n to the beat. That song was followed by several other wonderful songs. More than any other genre of music, r&b has had the most influence on me; it defines me and takes me back to my roots. For this reason alone, I have such an appreciation for great r&b artists. What I love about Miguel the most is the old school soul (not old old school, relax) in his voice; takes me back to the days of Jodeci and Tony,Toni,Tone! I like that he’s doing his own thing; he stands out from the rest of them and does it with confidence. He writes great music, as well.  “All I want is you” was fly because it had a nice flow and hot beat. “Sure thing”, similarly, has a smooth flow and is super romantic; the lyrics are sweet and sincere and could make any girl feel special. I also have a big crush on his guitarist; he gets so into the  music when performing – it’s so sexy. Go ahead, Miguel + cute guitar player, do yall’s thang.

All-time favorite lyricist, MC and poet: Lauryn Hill.

I chose a road of passion and pain
Sacrificed too much and waited in vain
Gave up my power ceased being queen
Addicted to love like the drug of a fiend

Is it me or does Lauryn kill it every single time? I mean she just says it exactly how it is. This is a great song for someone who survived after a toxic relationship or marriage. Love is a drug and an addiction and so often it  gets the best of us to a point where we don’t even realize that we have the power to get out of it and that we deserve the best. This song is empowering because it reflects that she’s at a place where she finally values her own worth and clearly sees that she deserves better. Most of all, she takes full responsibility for pain she inflicted on herself and I really respect that.

Lately I’ve been following the practices of Shivani Verma, a philosopher and speaker who offers new-age spirituality lessons based on the principles of “Bhrahma Kumaris”. Her lessons are easy to follow and make quite a bit of sense. I try to catch her early morning show on Zee TV called “Awakening with Brahma Kumaris”. Today I got quite a bit out of her talk about our purpose in life and I have to share!

Have you ever found yourself asking, “What is my purpose”. Typical answers could be, “I’m a mother so my purpose is to raise my children properly” or “I’m a student so my purpose is to get a degree and be successful in any given field” or “I don’t know, I’m searching for it”, etc. Shivani talks about the purpose of life at a deeper level; we often look outside to find purpose but our true purpose is to be happy inside. This doesn’t mean neglect our other duties or our other goals. She talks about making being happy as our main purpose in life but that we should continue to play our roles in life and fulfill our duties. Experience these duties fully. By living life with the purpose of being full of happiness, you’ll be happier in each of your roles and you’ll make other around you happy.

Don’t look for long-lasting happiness outside; our happiness is not dependent on external ever-changing situations. Find the joy within. She says that our inner focus changes but nothing outside changes. Through Jainism I’ve learned that all of these bits of joy we experience in life are very short-lived. That doesn’t mean I won’t listen to my favorite song tomorrow morning to get pumped for the day but at the same time I will be conscious that this is temporary happiness and that true happiness comes from within. I think (and she suggested) that mediation can assist with experiencing happiness within. Who knows-maybe ill find that song even more enjoyable when I start making being happy my main purpose in life.

If interested in more, you can catch her on Zee TV around 7-7:30am. You can also check out the official site for Brahma Kumaris. She’s on YouTube but it’s in Hindi and not all the videos have subtitles. You can also check out her blog @ http://sistershivani.blogspot.com/.