sandhya music©

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It was September, 2001, when some yoga teacher friends decided to start offering a musical community event, later, was affectionately called ‘Give Peace a Chant’,and that made us happy.
We were in a Yaletown yoga studio for the longest time. The inspiration, to chant for peace kept going long after the tragic events in the USA, in Sept. 2001.
That seems like a really long time ago, now, but at the time, the shared vision was for an inter-spiritual music community to be singing together, every Friday night, sometimes with special guests, conscious music and spiritual world music (songs for peace) from all around the globe. We hosted from many different traditions.
The benefits were in the connections, learning about other sacred music paths, but mostly, it was the sound of the voices singing together.
Plus, like it or not, it was always a family friendly community event, held by donation. Kids were allowed to dance and have fun, but we held a strict rule that if the child was not having fun = acting out, the family would need to pack up and leave, respectfully.
We enjoyed over a decade of singing celebrations with some of Vancouver’s great sacred musicians.

Fund raising efforts included a regular donation to The Vancouver Food Bank, in the form of  vegetarian food donations.

Thanks for all who played and sang at the Friday night community! There are more photos on FB.

Friday nights, we shared a nice run of yoga studio fund raiser celebrations. This one was for Vancouver Foodbank, where we donated vegetarian food. A few years later, this studio was completely demolished, including the Ridge Theatre, Bowling Lanes and retro style restaurants… gone forever!

But there are memories…

2004 – 2005 – GPaC’s CDs, A Loving Flame / Peace Through Music w/ Sandra Leigh, David Embry, Lyle Povah, and beautiful singing community in Kits, 2004-2005. Produced by Greg Birdsall. Recorded live, in the above yoga studio in Kits, with community. Great fun!

2005 (or so) –  Rob Scharein helps put GPaC’s first website online. Many thanks to Rob, as he also created GPaC songbooks. Later, we enjoyed wonderful slides and sometimes, a short talk on astronomy. Rob also archived many years of ‘GPaC’ live audio recordings, videos and photos. A heart-felt thanks to Rob, and to all the volunteers who helped the GPaC community chant night!

Around this time,  we also began hosting more visiting guest artists.

From 2001 – 2008, I worked at Banyen Books and Sound, and would help Banyen Sound’s Kirtan events in Vancouver. Banyen sponsored larger events and concerts, like Krishna Das, for many years. Thanks to my hours working at the bookstore, (and a good old bulletin board) I made many great friends and connections.

Eventually, I would take the GPaC program out to more places, including yoga conferences, festivals and mini-tours around BC 🇨🇦

2008 – GPaC joined social media and began more networking online, and attendance at bi-weekly events went way up!

2009 – Forever remembering local beauty, Chantal Jolly, my karmic soul sister. Chantal shared her incredibly beautiful singing, Bass, Guitar and 12 String with GPaC. Singer, sound-healer, and a highly accomplished and compassionate musician. After a very long, hard fought battle with breast cancer, Chantal left us in 2009, but her passing songs healed our hearts, leaving our lifetimes changed forever!

2009 – Sandra Leigh, in Vraj Dham, India.

2009 – It was immediately following Chantal’s passing away that I went to India, (she passed on Friday night, and I left for India on Saturday morning). She had insisted that I did not cancel the retreat. The travel was swift as I recall, no problems. I could not help but notice her spiritual presence the entire time I was on this trip, a Dru Yoga / Sound & Mantra Retreat in Vrindavan, India. Chantal told me once, she had always wanted to go to India! At the Temples, I could hear her quiet voice, feel her “hand” on my shoulder, I felt her asking me to please purchase and offer garlands to the deities, for her mother, and for both our mothers! Chantal had 3 serious food allergies, and she dared not try to travel in India, in her mind, it was just too risky, and her allergic reactions to certain foods (peanuts, fish) were deadly dangerous. Before she passed, she said, (a few times) that she would be of more help to all of us from the “other side” and she said this, even though she was more of a science minded person!

It was on this 2009 INDIA retreat that I met Shyamdas for the first time, in Vrindavan, across from a hotel called MVT. He was buying bananas. It was a memorable meeting for me, in the little shop, crowded in line next to Shyamdas himself! He was talking to every one in the shop, and so I asked him, I said excuse me sir, is your name Shyamdas? He exclaimed, “I am Shyam!” and I felt like thunder went off. I could not believe we chatted, he insisted we visit Govardhan to visit him. I got his number, and elated, I went back to my room, hoping to share this fab opportunity with my retreat group, but sadly, no one wanted to take up the invitation to go visit him in Jatipura! I felt it was a missed opportunity, to be sure. The Teachings of Shri Vallabhacharya translated by Shyamdas was even on the retreat reading list, but the itinerary for the retreat was already set.

When I returned from India, we held a celebration of life for Chantal, at the Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace in Vancouver. We sang her favourite songs together. I sang Om Tara, was her favourite, an gave a short eulogy, made the entire congregation laugh (it was packed!), by sharing the story of how Chantal and I met, and how we had an odd commonality, in that, we were married to the same man! Not at the same time, of course! But in one of life’s odd turns, we became friends after we both left the relationship. Chantal befriended me, we started played music and healed together, before she passed. Even though she was unwell,

Chantal never missed a GPaC gig, and she had a smile that would often light up the entire room. She sang beautifully, played Bass, Piano, Guitar, even a little Frame Drum, as needed, She worked as a Music Therapist in Vancouver area, moved to the West End, getting an apartment a couple of blocks from my place, so, we spent some important time together. We had some kind of karma, a mystical relationship, I’m not sure … who knows? Bless HER!

2010 –  The year came and went and GPaC continued playing and by now, we were getting more participants and including a ‘Celebration of Light’, singing in Sanskrit. This was our way of showing appreciation for a traditional Indian ceremony, called Arati. From my humble perspective, I learned about Arati kind of backwards. First, I learned about Arati at the ashram in BC, then again, I experienced Arati at the ashram in the UK. It was not until much later that I was able to experience an authentic Arati ceremony in INDIA. I took the long road, I guess! :))

For many years, our understanding of this (ceremony of waving lamps) was as a symbol of purification of the the 5 sense perceptions, and the acknowlegment of peace. We called it a Celebration of LIGHT.

2010 – I started a YouTube Channel givepeaceachant

2011 – Thanks to Tina in Whistler, Shyamdas visited us in Vancouver! He was here for skiing. I was truly delighted to see him, again. He was so unique, a genuine character, and he remembered me from MVT. I eagerly helped set up a few concerts (he loved the fabulous Tabla player, Stefan) Tina and her Jivamukti YTT Grads had a very special celebration! I also began planting seeds for a possible GPaC / India – Bhakti Yoga Retreat with Shyamdas. He said yes, it would be a good idea to bring our group on a retreat, we would arrange to visit him in India! It was not meant to be though.

Kirtan continued, twice per month, anchored in Kits. We also helped with a number of outdoor gatherings that Summer, in the park. However, eventually the local yoga studio venue would be closed forever, demolished, along with The Ridge Theatre.

2013 – Then, sadly and suddenly, Shyamdas passed away in 2013.

– with the yoga studio venue demolished,
I tried to keep going with gatherings at a few other venues and we enjoyed many more cozy home programs, picnics, etc.

I also embarked on a mini tour adventure that included singing in North Wales, England, & Scotland. Looking back, this tour was my way to process the earlier passing of my Mother, that same Spring, 2014. She was Scottish by heritage, not by birth, still a powerful place to go after her passing.

I began my first dream recording project in the Summer of 2014, in Glasgow. For years I had wanted to try tracking Bagpipes for the (not-yet- named) ‘Kirtan Lila’, CD. So, that’s exactly what I did for that entire Summer. It was all about tracking Pipes and Harmonium, and I became very interested in sound recording, that Summer. I dedicate the ‘Kirtan Lila’ CD to my Mom, with love.

2015‘Kirtan Lila’ by Give Peace a Chant was finally released in June, 2015. This album has a lot of energy, and some amazing musicians / friends helped me see this first project off the ground. I learned a lot / processed ALOT during this project!

2016‘Divine Play’ CD (Instrumentals from Kirtan Lila) by Give Peace a Chant was released, January 2016.

Instrumental soundtrack for ‘Yoga Moves for Every Body’ TV show, which aired in Vancouver and Calgary on Shaw community television, Channel 4 and Multicultural Channels. The TV show project can now be seen on YouTube as YogaMovesTV  and features yoga with ‘Divine Play’ soundtrack.

2017‘Gopal Lila’ EP by Give Peace a Chant, recorded at Park Sound Studio in North Vancouver was released on SandhyaRecords℗ as a new soundtrack project.

2018 – was established in 2018 representing SandhyaRecords

2019 – I started the year in India with an invitation to India!

At this point, it is safe to say, that if it were not for Shyamdas, I would never have experienced such a blessing as my last trip to India.

2020 –  A “new age” of COVID-19. My thoughts (at the moment) are with family and friends. I am still learning about the outcomes for my small yoga business. Although I have been super productive, I also feel this is a good time to rest, study and work on music, and reflect on offering more recorded music. 2020 was a year to be grateful for all we have!

2021 – I’ve started the year with a long held dream to go back to school for upgrading, and so it is, BCiT online, and so far, it’s been a good kind of challenge. “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

Thanks for subscribing for more music. My hope is that we will be well together, maybe even singing out loud again, soon.

I‘m presently residing in Vancouver, BC. 

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