peace through music

Music Bio

Give Peace a Chant Kirtan Community (GPaC) 2001 – 2015 was a Bhakti Yoga inspired inter-spiritual conscious music event that was held at local yoga studios in Vancouver, BC.

We want to say thanks for all the many sweet memories of GPaC community events and live sacred music moments, friendship and association, volunteers, musical partnerships, guest artists, dancers, travelers, healers, all Lovers, along the way.

SPECIAL GUESTS (Past Kirtan Events)
• We have been
honoured to host/or co-host larger events (2001 – 2015). Kirtan special guests, visiting from the USA have included the late, great Shyamdas, Karnamrita Dasi, Gauravani, Radhanath Swami, Mayapuris, Jai Uttal, Krishnadas (sponsored by Banyen Books), Srikala, Dave Stringer, Daniel Paul, Bhagavandas, Gina Sala, Heather & Benjy Wertheimer and Shantala, Jaya Lakshmi (Kirtronica), and Women of Bhakti (film premiere) and Adam Bauer.

GPaC has also hosted many local sacred music artists. 🇨🇦 Special guests, co-leaders have included, in no particular order, David Embry – Blue Lotus Music, Bhakti Bros. Ananda and Yogi, Nitai Ram, Raghunath Das, also, Jeffrey Armstrong, Jerry DesVoignes, Neeraja Aptikar, Niranjan and Surya, Wade Imre Morrisette, Pepe Danza, Navaro Franco, Greg Valou, Sparrow, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras with Arunima, Meshe Mooette, Robyn Carrigan, Zoey Wren, Maggie Reagh, Geo and Andrea, Stefan , Chaitanya Chandra, Nick Eccleston, Jambhavan, Wendy DeMos (Chant Your Heart Open), and many beautiful musical memories, outdoor events, and live recordings with Lyle Povah and community friends, and of course, our farewell to our beloved friend, Chantal Jolly (RIP).

More recently, Seva included volunteering for Kirtan Vancouver Festival in Stanley Park, as well outdoor Kutir nights, “chanting under the stars.” Holy Cow! and Bhakti Yoga Vancouver’s ‘Kirtan from the Heart’, Summer 2018.

We humbly honour all of our teachers, including our parents. A special note of gratitude to the late Shyamdas ji, without whom I would not have been inspired to take Initiation, a humbling experience, one that cannot be described in english words, but maybe in Sanskrit verse.

GPaC Music & Community Bio:
2001 – 2003,
Sandra Leigh and Itamar Erez met at YTT and soon began offering regular Friday “peace through music” inspired chant nights at Prana Yoga in Yaletown. ‘Give Peace a Chant’ was coined as a reminder for us to keep a lighthearted approach to inter-spiritual music as a way to help bring relief to serious divisions of religion and political strife, especially in late Fall 2001, GPaC Satsang created a safe place for bhakti yoga musical unity, honouring an interest in “Inter-spirituality”, more common within the yoga studio setting.

“The Paths are Many but the Truth is One ”

It was also at this time, after 9/11 that John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ song was said to be banned as too controversial from radio air waves play in the USA.

Inspired to focus on the good vision of ‘peace through music’, Friday night GPaC became a weekly meet up for over 7 years, eventually moving to twice a month format.

We had a nice run, over 15 years of regular live sacred music events.

We reluctantly ended our regular gathering on Friday night when our venue yoga studio in Kitsilano (photo above) was demolished, in 2015. We had been offering the GPaC program there for over 10 years. We continued to play at other studios, home programs, though.

2004 – 2005 – GPaC’s first CDs, A Loving Flame / Peace Through Music Recorded Live! w/ Sandra Leigh, David Embry, Lyle Povah, and beautiful singing community in Kits, 2004-2005. Produced by Greg Birdsall.

2005 – 2015 – Thanks to Rob Scharein, GPaC’s website went up in 2007. Rob also started archiving GPaC Live audio recordings, videos, photos, slides and songbooks. Thanks, Rob!

GPaC also started began hosting more visiting guest artists, and it was at this time that Sandra Leigh worked in conjunction with Banyen Books events.

Meanwhile, Sandra managed to take the ‘Give Peace a Chant’ program out to more places, including various yoga conferences, festivals and mini-tours on the weekends.

2008 – When GPaC joined social media, local gatherings really blossomed. Thanks to many volunteers, too.

2009 – Remembering local beauty, Chantal Jolly, our karmic soul sister. Chantal shared the last 2 years of her short 44 years, singing with GPaC. After many years long battle with breast cancer, Chantal left her body, but her passing songs healed our hearts, leaving lifetimes changed forever.

2012 –  We needed a place to share some videos, so we started our YouTube Channel givepeaceachant108.

2014 – GPaC tours UK, includes Scotland, Glasgow, Sterling, Edinburgh, and Paisley. Recording begins in the Summer at Barrhead, Glasgow, Scotland tracking Bagpipes, Harmonium and Vocal bedtracks for Kirtan Lila, GPaC’s first full studio CD.

2015‘Kirtan Lila’ CD by Give Peace a Chant was released in June, 2015.

2016‘Divine Play’ CD (Instrumentals from Kirtan Lila) by Give Peace a Chant was released in January and became soundtrack for Sandra’s television show production, ‘Yoga Moves for Every Body’ which aired in Vancouver and Calgary on now defunct, Shaw (analogue) community television, Channel 4 and Multicultural Channels. The show can now be seen on YouTube as YogaMovesTV.

2017‘Gopal Lila’ EP by Give Peace a Chant, released on SandhyaRecords©

2018 – was established in 2018 representing SandhyaRecords2017© and beyond.

2018/19 – At present, Give Peace a Chant is on indefinite rest while Sandra regroups and repairs from bi-lateral wrist surgeries. She still teaches part-time and practices her singing (Seva) everyday, at home.

Personal Bio: GPaC host, Sandra Leigh (pronounced Lee) grew up in Alberta but moved to BC where she first took ashram residency in 1996 (BC and abroad). She went on to earn Dru Yoga, Meditation and Sound certificates from trainings held in Canada, North Wales, UK, and India.

More recently, Sandra has experienced more from The Teachings of Shri Vallabhacharya and has been captured by the most beautiful songs and moods that come from this Vaisnava tradition. Previous to this, she took part in all levels study retreat at the Varanasi Academy of Indian Classical Music located in Varanasi (Benares) in 2008. Gratitude includes Pandit Shivnath Mishra & Deobrat Mishra of Varanasi, based on Benares Gahrana music tradition in Varanasi. She also studied Sanskrit at UBC with Professor Thomas Hunter and has made a few retreat visits to India. She would like to learn Hindi since India Lifestyle retreats that have greatly enriched her bhakti yoga practice. Her travels have included Vraj Dham, Varanasi, Nathdwara and Jatipura.

2016 and again in 2019, Sandra took blessings with Pushtimargiya Aacharya, Sri Milan Goswami, and is studying The Teachings of Sri Vallabhacharya. Initiations were given in Kota, India. Brahma-Sambandha, means complete surrender to Bhagwan Shri Krishna’s non-discriminatory Seva.

By extracting the unique flavours or rasa from Indian devotional song or bhajan, and in the spirit of bhakti yoga, adding authentic interpretation, Sandra continues to offer practices, performed lovingly, at home.

We honour that our events take place on traditional, unceded, occupied territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish (Sḵwxwú7mesh), and Musqueam (Xwméthkwyiem) Nations.