New Age Sensation
The New Age duo Deva Premal and Miten are what you might call a quiet sensation, a fascinating musical phenomenon with a growing cult following. They sold out 500-seat Angelico Hall at Dominican University in San Rafael far in advance of their November 16 concert, and there were still so many people who wanted to see them that a second show was added for November 15.
When I listened to the couple's new album, Embrace, a collection of Sanskrit mantras set to music, I began to understand what all the buzz is about. Since these two are big in yoga/meditation circles, buzz may be too loud a word to describe the excitement around them. Hum might be better. In any case, Cher has been singing their rendition of the Gayatri Mantra on her farewell tour, bringing the mantra into the mainstream. And they recently performed Om Tare Tuttare, a mantra about a compassionate goddess, for the Dalai Lama.
Their CD, on the Boulder-based indie label White Swan, reminded me of the spiritual music I found so entrancing when I was covering Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his sannyasin followers in the 1980s at their ranch/commune in Oregon. So I wasn't surprised when I learned that Deva and Miten came together musically and romantically at the Rajneesh ashram in India when she was a 20-year-old German bodyworker, and he was a disillusioned 43-year-old British rock guitarist/singer/songwriter named Andy Desmond, who once opened for Fleetwood Mac, Ry Cooder and the Kinks.
"Actually, Deva wasn't singing at the time we met," Miten recalled, speaking by phone this week from Palm Springs, where they were performing at a yoga conference. "The whole thing began when she started to open her voice and everyone's jaws dropped, including mine. Her voice is such a pure expression. There's no ego in it. I think that's what touches people."
A dozen years later, Premal, whose name means "Divine Loving", and Miten ("Friend of God") tour internationally for 10 months a year and have recorded three albums of mantras and chants - The Essence, Love is Space, and now Embrace - that have sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Open Secret has presented them for the past several years at its San Rafael bookstore/caf&eacut;, a venue that is now too small for their expanding audience in Marin. Embrace was co-produced by the highly-regarded Marin keyboardist Kit Walker, who recorded the album here and plays on it along with Jai Uttal.
With her long, flowing hair and golden aura, Deva, now 32, has become sort of the Enya of the mantra, a spiritual pop star. She's on the cover of the current issue of Natural Beauty and Health magazine and was recently the cover story in New Age Voice.
In contrast to the ethereal nature of their music, Deva and Miten are remarkably down to earth. "The thing that's so beautiful about our relationship is that we never really expected it to be any more than a friendship," Miten said. "We never really expected it to last, and I think through that and through the music, of course, we've made a precious connection."
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And Full Tour Schedule
|May 16: Barcelona, ES|
|May 18: Palma de Mallorca, ES|
|May 26: Bern, CH|
|May 28: Lausanne, CH|
|May 30: Zurich, CH|
|Jun 2: Frankfurt, DE|
|Jun 5: Bonn, DE|