‘Singing Teacher’ Tops the Charts
The newest sound in Dallas’ live music scene isn’t being played in clubs and there isn’t a guitar in sight. The sound is kirtan – an unlikely stew of ancient Hindu music with pop/folk influences.
And at the top of Dallas’ kirtan scene is yoga instructor/vocalist Stefanie Tovar. She has a nationally-released EP, “Shine A Light” recently released on Nov. 3 on I-Tunes, Amazon & Spotify. The release opened at #1 for New Age pre-orders on Amazon in late October.
At the heart of the release is “Shine A Light,” a kirtan approach to the traditional gospel song, “This Little Light is Going to Shine.” A few seconds into the tune it takes a left turn with sitars and temple bells mixing with church organ and Tovar’s soulful voice.
Midway through the song Tovar switches from English to Vedic – an ancient Indian language used in kirtan music, which is being popularized even by mainstream performers like Belinda Carlise, formerly of The Go-Go’s.
Tovar has been using her voice as a “perk” for her legion of yoga students for the past several years throughout the DFW area. Her singing comes as a treat at the end of her class – savasana. While the class is flat on its back Tovar unhooks the bellows on her harmonium, a small pump organ, and delves into a rich repertoire that weaves traditional kirtan with songs like “Over the Rainbow.”
Tovar’s EP was released Nov. 3rd by the Deep Ellum-based Primitive/Modern label. It is distributed by Sony Music’s the Orchard. The six-year old label has over 60 yoga and meditation titles in its catalogue.
The label’s manager, Ben Tavera King, heard Tovar at Uptown Yoga in Lakewood – flat on his back during savasana.
“You would have to be dead not to be moved by Stefani’s voice,” says King. “She has tremendous range and feeling – even in a humid, sweat-drenched room. She’s definitely a singular talent. A lot people are doing kirtan, but Stefanie has a unique take on the style.”
Tovar started blessing her classes with a taste of kirtan several years ago – on a whim. “I didn’t ask the owner of the studio or anything –I thought I might get fired. But I sang at the end of the class and it was magic,” says Tovar. “Fortunately for me it keeps happening.”
Tovar started teaching yoga more than 10 years ago after an intense career in drama including the touring troupe for “Sesame Street Live.”