From Bhakti Fest to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band captivate people’s hearts with their soulful, imaginative music. The New Orleans-based trio – vocalist/harmonium player/lyricist and band founder Seán Johnson, bassist/guitarist Alvin Young and singer/percussionist Gwendolyn Colman honor, interpret, and express spiritual mantra music from the traditions of yoga and beyond through the depth, authenticity, and sincerity of their own American and ancestral roots. Their music merges ancient mantras; sacred chants from around the world, conscious lyrics, and roots, rock, gospel, and global grooves. Known for creating interactive, soul-stirring songs to dance and sing along with, as well as to grieve and heal -- their music has been embraced around the globe as a revelatory journey that DEEPENS CONNECTION, FOSTERS HEALING, and MOVES people.
The band is regarded as one of the most distinctive in western devotional music. Their dynamic sound has won over widespread fans worldwide through inclusion on several Putumayo World Music compilations. Their live performances have transformed yoga studios across America and Europe into thriving, ecstatic concert and dance halls, and they have gone on to become favorite headliners on the main stages of conscious music festivals nationwide. They are the first mantra music ensemble to ever play on the hallowed stages of Louisiana’s massive ‘Jazzfest’ gathering.
‘Turn That Wall Into A Door’ is a song to welcome one of the most significant Springs of our lifetime, a song for rebirth, recovery, reunion, remembering, rejoicing - acknowledging the challenges that are a part of being a human and of the past year, yet still digging in and finding the courage to transform and transcend them.” - Seán Johnson
Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band kicks off Spring 2021 with the single, ‘Turn That Wall Into A Door (Jai Ganesha),’ an inspiring, hopeful anthem for awakening the courage to flip the script and celebrate new beginnings. This is a highly anticipated release following the trio’s last hit album, ‘Unity,’ which premiered 6 years ago and debuted #1 on the iTunes World Music Chart and #3 on the Billboard chart. ‘Turn That Wall Into A Door (Jai Ganesha)’ is the first single from their upcoming release, ‘Mystery,’ a rootsy devotional album that explores themes of doubt, sparks of faith, and evokes a sense of fierce trust in the fertility of darkness, in what cannot be seen or explained. This collection of mantra and chant-based spiritual songs addresses the current challenges of our time and offers inspiration to kindle the courage to move through the unknown. Through song, the album honors the wild and mysterious ways of spirit, an often hidden and unnamable force that can feel so distant, and yet in time can secretly heal a wound, mend a broken heart, and restore our humanity.
Seán Johnson warmly shares, “It is our band’s ritual to start with a ‘Ganesha’ song. Ganesha is the form of the divine honored within the Hindu tradition and universally loved by people who practice yoga worldwide, symbolizing auspicious blessings and the transformation of obstacles. And when springtime 2021 came upon us - the anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic, with vaccinations becoming more widespread, and a cautious sense of hope and longing to break through the heaviness of the past year - this felt like the perfect song to start with. It’s one of the most joyful, light-hearted, and uplifting songs on the album.
Turn that wall into a door
Turn that wall into a door
What do you think we're living for?
Turn that wall into a door
Finish everyday and let it be done
No doubt some absurdities have come
Let em go as soon as you can
Tomorrow is a new day
Om Gang Ganapataye Ganapataye
The distinctive elements of the song draw from diverse places: a worldbeat flavor and lyrics that feature inspiring words of wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. Emerson was also one of the first Americans deeply influenced by yoga teachings from India. The song also includes the Ganesha chant, ‘Om Gang Ganapataye Namaha,’ an ancient mantra for transforming obstacles to opportunities. As an homage to the band’s home of New Orleans, the tune features an uplifting signature New Orleans horn arrangement from one of the city’s most beloved and gifted trombone players Mark Mullins (Bonerama) with the Levee Horns (Bobby Campo on trumpet and Jason Mingledorff on tenor sax). The blending of English and Sanskrit mantras stirs the heart, while luscious guest harmonies from Debrissa McKinney (guest vocalist) with Gwendolyn Colman brighten the vibe. Virtuosic drummer Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit), a friend and frequent presence on the band’s recordings, drives the engine of the song with delightful rhythms.
“One of the challenges we experienced during the production of this song was maintaining its light-hearted quality and mood. After trying a few approaches, a breakthrough came during one of the studio sessions while listening to the song. Suddenly, the ‘Jai Ganesha’ response part (that Gwendolyn Colman and Debrissa McKinney ended up recording) came through. Listening to my subsequent recorded voice memo as a reference reminded us a little bit of the sweet and soulful female response and harmony vocals on some of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ songs. Adding that part immediately gave the song a lightness, a breath of fresh air that was missing. I also knew this new part would make the song more interactive and participatory for folks to engage with, both live and recorded. We're always seeking ways to get the crowd involved in singing with us, as participation is one of the most important features of mantra music,’” Johnson elaborates. “Also, having grown up in New Orleans, where there are a lot of horn players, brass bands, and it's just a part of the environment, osmosis, I often 'hear' horns when I'm exploring song ideas. This felt like a song where we could really feature a horn section to help drive and lift the energy of the song. Having the incredible punctuations and bursts of brass harmonies from Mark Mullins & The Levee Horns added so much flavor, and really gave the song wings.”
The full production team on this track includes band members - Seán Johnson (vocalist, harmonium player, and lyricist), Alvin Young (bass and guitar player), Gwendolyn Colman (percussionist and singer), Chris Rosser (producer and engineer), Jeff Sipe (drummer), Debrissa McKinney (vocalist), Mark Mullins (trombone and horn arranger) and the Levee Horns including Bobby Campo (trumpet player), and Jason Mingledorff (tenor saxophonist).
The song’s producer Rosser, founder of Hollow Reed Studio, in Asheville, NC says, “Often, music in the mantra and yoga world is very quiet, soothing and reflective. While Seán & The Wild Lotus Band certainly has elements of that, I was excited that they have a much wider palette of musical influences as well, and aren’t afraid to play songs that have celebratory, danceable grooves, and music with electric guitar and drums that have a bit more edge and, at times, darkness to it. Before we started work on the album, we listened to many live recordings of their tunes, and the energy and participation coming from the audience was incredible! So, I was excited for us to figure out collectively how to best present these songs on a recording that retains the dynamics and excitement of a live performance, but with depth and nuance that encourages repeated listening. Of course, the main goal is always to capture studio performances that communicate in a soulful, connected way - particularly with Seán and Gwendolyn’s vocals.”
Johnson concludes, “I hope that listeners can turn to this song to mark a new beginning, a step forward. I hope that the song can be a reminder to embrace the unique spirit in each of us, to dance and smile in the face of adversity. Lastly, I hope this is a song to turn to, sing and dance along with, and to lean on when you need some juice, inspiration, and courage to get through tough times.”
Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band’s ‘Turn That Wall Into A Door (Jai Ganesha),’ is out on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band will be hosting an online performance of the song via a Zoom gathering to celebrate the debut on Friday, May 7, 2021. For a complete list of upcoming performances and events, visit https://seanjohnsonandthewildlotusband.com.