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Music review:
Salutations by Swaha
Ascent Magazine 21 Spring 2004

A devotional soprano voice lifts me up the soft stairs of the yoga studio. The humid room is overflowing with people swaying to the musical chants of Swaha and their eclectic band of musicians. We are gathered for the launch of the group's new album, Salutations.

Ron Reid and Meenakshi, both teachers at Toronto's Downward Dog Yoga Studio, wrote and produced the CD for the same reason they chose the name of their ensemble. "Swaha" means "to offer up to higher realms". They use their music as an offering, they say, and to take the listener to higher realms where our true identity exists.

The album consists of ancient Sanskrit words, sung primarily by Meenakshi, blended to music. The music is a surprisingly sweet combination of contemporary Western-style piano, violin and guitar, mixed with the Eastern sounds of the tabla, sitar and dilruba.

Reid and Meenakshi began writing music together early in 2000, "sitting at the piano and letting the chants and music come through us." The lives of both musicians changed dramatically during the last couple of years, including having to deal with the deaths of their fathers. They say that writing Salutations "lifted our souls higher, and sometimes in one sitting an entire song was composed, effortlessly." The life changes Meenakshi endured resonate in her voice. Her prayers seem even more heartfelt and urgent than they did just a few years ago with the release of her first solo album, Prayers.

Salutations is a remarkable album if you are looking to introduce yourself to the magical music of Sanskrit chanting and prayer. This is beautiful, wholehearted music. The words are ancient, but the message and feelings they evoke, full of love and hope, are just as relevant in the contemporary world.

      - by Samantha Kay McDonald


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