Rapid City Journal

Singing and/or chanting call and response has long been at the heart of many religious traditions and spiritual practices. Whether chanting in Latin or Hebrew or singing hymns in Old English, many people can attest to the power of sound and music in spirituality.

Adding a roomful of voices in addition to one’s own can make the experience even richer. That’s what the ancient practice of kirtan — which originated in India as the layman’s way of communicating with the Divine — hopes to accomplish.

This non-denominational spiritual call and response technique, which is usually sung in Sanskrit, is used to connect with the divinity both inside and outside one’s self. It strives to generate renewing and life-transforming energy for all who practice it.

“Kirtan calls my attention to my heart even as it forces me to face my deepest fears in my day to day," said Denver-based kirtan leader Rick Franz, who has played and toured with some of the world’s most well-known kirtan "wallahs," or leaders, for several years. "In so doing, it seems to lessen their grab on me. My lifestyle and tour are all about calling the bluff on the law of attraction.” 

Franz will hold a kirtan concert from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Vibrant Life Yoga and Pilates, 1002 Jackson Blvd., leading participants in call and response chanting, singing and dance.

Franz describes his presentation as “slightly less traditional, very dynamic and fun.” It features his original music performed mostly on various guitars and a bouzouki. Participants will be invited to sing loudly and dance with abandon — or they may simply sit on the ground and meditate to the mantras, whatever best serves their needs.

Kirtan is strongly rooted in the philosophy that one must be compassionate toward one’s self. “As a practice, Kirtan works to put the ego in its place. It exposes true love for self. When one has witnessed that enough, the ego starts to soften and personal relationships blossom in amazing and sweet ways. Circumstances improve. You're being the change you want to see in the world, and your world changes to match,” Franz said.

Kirtan has grown in popularity in the past 10 years in the United States alongside yoga and other eastern spiritual practices. For more information on Franz’s kirtan practice and music,

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