Bhakti Without Borders Producers to Attend Grammys

By: Madhava Smullen for ISKCON News on Feb. 5, 2016

The cover of the Grammy award nominated the Bhakti Without Borders CD

Four people are set to represent Bhakti Without Borders, only the third kirtan album ever to be nominated for a Grammy, at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on February 15th.

Main artist Madi Das – who duets on the album with eleven Vaishnavi co-vocalists – and producer Dave Stringer will attend as the Grammy nominees. 

They will be joined by KMA record label representatives Chaitanya Mangala and Kamal Vyas.

With the exception of Stringer, who is a well-known kirtan artist outside of ISKCON, all are second generation Hare Krishna devotees. 

The award ceremony will be held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, and will be televised live at 8pm ET / 7pm CT / 5pm PT on CBS. It will also be streamed online at or through the GRAMMY Live app.

Madi Das, Dave Stringer, Chaitanya Mangala, and Kamal Vyas will also attend the Grammy celebration after-party at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“It’s a black tie event,” says Chaitanya. “We’ll all be wearing tuxedos!”

Bhakti Without Borders has been nominated in the Grammys’ “Best New Age Album” category, along with four other albums.

“We are a long shot,” admits Chaitanya Mangala. “Competition is stiff. This is the 11th nomination for Peter Kater and the 3rd nomination for Paul Averginos, though neither have won before. Regardless, to be nominated for a Grammy is to be placed in a very special musical category.” 

If Bhakti Without Borders wins, it will be the first kirtan album ever to do so.

This is also the first time an album entirely in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, featuring only traditional Sanskrit or Bengali bhajans, has been nominated. Songs include Radhe Jai Jai Madhava Dayite, Namo Maha Vadanyaya, Bhaja Govindam and Jagannathastakam. 

Bhakti Without Borders is also unique in that 100% of its profits go towards helping educate, clothe and feed underprivileged girls in Lord Krishna’s hometown of Vrindavana, India.

Kulimela Association, the organization represented by Chaitanya Mangala and Kamal Vyas, is the charity that collects and sends these profits to Vrindavana’s Sandipani Muni School for girls. It also runs the small indie record label, KMA, whose fourth album is Bhakti Without Borders.

“We also helped with the pre-planning and launch of the Indiegogo fundraising campaign that made producing the album possible,” says Kamal. “I’m glad that I was able to use my experience to offer that kind of support.”

Two of KMA’s stated purposes are 1) To promote, present and preserve the universal principles of Bhakti Yoga -- transformation of the heart through loving service – in contemporary, contemplative and dynamic ways.

And 2) To bring people together to participate in Kirtan, the sacred, joyful, and spontaneous congregational singing and dancing for the glorification of the Divine.

Whether Bhakti Without Borders wins a Grammy or not, the nomination is already helping it to achieve these goals by reaching a vastly larger number of people than it would have otherwise.

Dubbed by its producers as “our humble kirtan charity effort,” the album has been mentioned in the same list as global artists like Anoushka Shankar, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift, and in publications like Billboard magazine and Entertainment Weekly.

The mainstream Indian media has also taken particular delight in the fact that a kirtan album by a lifelong Western Vaishnava has been nominated for a Grammy, and have given it widespread coverage in the Times of India, New Delhi Times, Hindustan Times, and others.

“The recognition thus far for the highly talented Dave Stringer, Madi Das, and all the various singers and artists involved in this album -- all for educating girls in India -- is so deserving,” says Kamal. “The Grammy nomination has helped highlight this important cause, and all the hard work that went into producing this album. It is a great acknowledgement of the whole project, and an inkling of what can be achieved when friends, family and well-wishers come together for a wonderful charity.”

Chaitanya Mangala adds, “Our nomination is a positive sign of the gradual increase in overall awareness and appreciation for kirtan. That five of Soul Traveler Radio’s “Top 20 Conscious Albums for 2015” are kirtan albums is another. It’s a steady evolution, and, through our collaborative efforts, we’re winning hearts and minds, one at a time.”

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