In the March - April 2005 issue of Yoga Chicago magazine, Debi Winston Buzil writes "Ten Reasons to Chant: Chicago's Kirtan Revolution"...
Jagati is the fruit of Sarah Richelle Starnes and Brent Byron Miller, along with Stephanie Starnes and guitarist Rich Logan. Sarah and Brent are a songwriting duo, whose souls seem to have been intertwined for lifetimes. Deep as the most profound river, Jagati's debut Firefly lifts the psyche and soothes the soul. Think Dead Can Dance mixed with a campfire singalong. Haunting harmonies, catchy mantra phrases, guitars, harmonium, djembe, flutes and a little bit of harmonica add to the magic. Brent's passionate vocals and drumming resound well with the Starnes sisters' incredible vocals. I love "Om Mata Saraswati" (Goddess of All Beauty and Knowledge). Often overlooked in the "chant pantheon," this version is great. Never in a hurry, taking their time, Jagati savors the flavor of each and every mantra.
Jagati, which translates to "collective conscious movement," flex their musical muscles, while keeping grounded in strong hatha yoga practice--all members are established yoga instructors. The dolls on the cover are a reflection of the group's twenty-something age group (tongue in cheek), yet remaining sweet. The three dolls, resembling the Starnes sisters and Brent--dreadlocked, tattooed, with bindi's, in beautiful asana poses--remind us that God is everywhere you look.
Original article can be found on Yoga Chicago's website at this address: http://www.yogachicago.com/mar05/music.shtml
'Firefly' gives listeners reason to move - The Glen Ellyn News/The Wheaton Leader
Locan kirtan band connects music to yoga, spirituality
By Linda Maraldo
Something very old is new again.
Kirtan, the chanting of ancient mantras, is increasingly becoming a new musical movement in the Chicago area, and local kirtan band, Jagati, has become a part of the genre. Band members recently released their debut album, "Firefly."
"Chanting is a way of opening up to the group consciousness of joy. In Jagati, we are trying to tap into this movement," said Lisle resident Sarah Starnes, 24, one of three band members.
"The kirtan experience is so blissful, it makes you smile. It's wonderful, joyful energy," she added.
The band is made up of Starnes and her singer-songwriting partner Brent Byron Miller, 24, of Lisle. Starnes' sister, 19-year-old Stephanie Starnes, formerly of Westmont, adds vocals.
Kirtan, in the ancient language of Sanskrit, means devotional singing or chanting of God's glories. Chanting is used in meditation and ceremonies by almost all religions.
Christians may be familiar with the Gregorian chants. In Islam, followers chant the 99 names of Allah called "the Beautiful Names," and Jewish chants are from Biblical texts.
"It's different than what people are used to, and some people are attracted to that. I explain that it's not about religion -- it just makes you feel good," Stephanie said.
All three members teach yoga, and Sarah teaches at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
The connection is strong between kirtan music and yoga, since kirtan is a form of devotional yoga called Bhakti, which is a pure spiritual devotion of love for God, according to Sarah.
"Bhakti yoga shows praise to a higher power. It is connecting yourself to a higher level. The concept is not really about any one religion, it is open to anybody," she said.
The songwriters discovered their mutual interest in music when Miller studied yoga in Sarah's yoga class.
"Brent has an amazing voice and is awesome at the guitar," she said.
Kirtan, however, was not the duo's first musical endeavor.
"We were performing folk singer-songwriter material when we went to a kirtan performance by Mantras Girl (a California group) playing at Yoga Among Friends in Downers Grove," Sarah said.
"We just looked at each other and said, 'Why aren't we doing this?'" she recalled.
Recording music has been a goal for Miller since high school. And with the advice and support of the Chicago-area kirtan culture, the band spent a year recording "Firefly." On the album, Miller adds vocals as well as plays guitar and the djimbe, an African drum.
Sarah plays the harmonium (of which she is self-taught), the native flute, percussion and guitar.
"(There is) something about kirtan that is so powerful, I'm so connected to it. I'm so happy to share it by singing in the band," Sarah said.
The compact disc is another creative mark for Sarah who enjoys dancing, writing poetry and exploring new ways to express her creativity.
"I always wished I could sing, and now I feel more accomplished," she said.
For Stephanie, the recording reflects the pleasure the three have in sharing their musical talents together.
"We didn't plan anything, we just sang. It is so different than what I am learning in school," said Stephanie, who is a music/theater major at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
"We didn't worry about all the technical things. It makes it more natural, more organic. You have to listen to it that way, as a whole," she added.
Unlike the other eight songs on Jagati's CD, the title track "Firefly" is not a chant. It is a song written for Sarah, by Miller:
"Slowly flicker, this firefly
waiting near she breathes out life
she sees the world as sacred light
helps me to see this beauty bright
she rides the wings of what some call
impossibility ... this firefly sings, so warm
and oh so calming ... "
"I love writing music for other people, and it felt really great to have the song written for me," Sarah said.
She said the band chose a variety of chants for the album, and a favorite mentioned by listeners is "Hare Krishna."
One track, the Native American Lakota chant "Tunkasila Pilamaya Olowan," is a thank you song for ancestors.
"It's kind of in honor of my mom," said Sarah, explaining her mother was always studying forms of spirituality and ancient healing methods and teaching others to respect nature and the balance of life.
Sarah said it wasn't unusual for her to come down to breakfast and see her mother spreading flour in a circle on the floor for the Indian medicine wheel ceremony, which is a way to honor the balance between all elements and the directions.
"We were always singing and chanting. I'm happy to see she introduced this to me at a young age," Sarah said.
The cover of "Firefly" is a composite of three Barbie dolls, each representing the band members positioned in their favorite yoga poses.
"We are all doing something we love in the Barbie positions. It's silly in a way, but that's good because some of the yoga stuff is a little heavy-handed," Sarah said.
For the future, Sarah and Miller intend to tour the country performing kirtan and teaching yoga. They said they want to explore the country and get exposure for their music and CD. Stephanie will continue her education in college and will join the band whenever possible.
They are already connecting with musicians around the country for collaborative performances.
"We will connect with a percussionist here and a violinist there," Sarah said.
For more information about Jagati, "Firefly" or a performance schedule, visit www.jagati.com.
Check out the artist's website:
2. Shiva Shambho
3. Hare Krishna
6. Om Mata Saraswati
7. Om Namo
8. Om Namah Shivaya
9. Tunkasila Pilamaya Olowan