With a bunch of bouncy sing-along kirtans and stories about the elephant god Ganesha, the monkey god Hanuman, Krishna, Govinda, and friends (replete with elephant cries and other fun noises), world music mainstay Jai Uttal creates the perfect gift for the yoga-children generation. An ideal present for kids just beginning to understand the power at their disposal should they open themselves to guidance by the infinite power of love, Kirtan Kids is a real kick. And “Poppa Uttal” is a fun and merry guide, with a rich, raspy voice, who brings in an array of various aged kids (including his own) to sing and chant, adding layers of meaning and resonance while never going overboard on cuteness. In “Dance Shiva Dance,” Uttal explains not to be afraid of Shiva’s more fearsome aspects: “He’s called the Lord of Destruction, but really that destruction just refers to a gigantic river of grace that removes all negativity and replaces it with light and wisdom and compassion. How does Lord Shiva do it? He dances!”
“Gung Gung Gung Ganesha Om” is chanted with children and backed by elephant noises and a chorus-bridge that shifts into a whole other mood and back again with exhilarating results. The music-box gentleness of “Bolo Ram Ram” goes a little farther out into gentle golden horizons with a merry tabla beat and children singing the chorus. The stories are fun: “Gopala Eats the Dirt,” and “Ganesha Walks Around the World,” the former about the birth of the universe and the latter a fable about competition, devotion, and sharing with the mouse rider Ganesha.
Like the best fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen or Disney, the tales of Krishna and company are not only delightful but profoundly applicable for day-to-day growth. The songs and chants are good for breathing and sonorous resonance and the tales of fantastic animal-shaped gods and their cosmic adventures are as wild as fables like The Lion King or The Little Mermaid. A fun booklet is included, with the Sanskrit chants, illustrations, and Uttal’s messages transcribed. All in all, Kirtan Kids is decidedly different and bound to blow the minds of kids that are up for exploring a spiritually mysterious and mythically rich culture. And for a fun guide, no one is better than Poppa Uttal.
Listen and buy Kirtan Kids at http://jaiuttal.com/kirtankids/.
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