Sean Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band are celebrated as one of the leading voices in western kirtan music, known for their dynamic sound that merges mantras, rock, funk, gospel, and world grooves-- merging the spirituality of yoga with the soul of their New Orleans roots. The band is a favorite headliner at festivals nationwide including Yoga Journal and they are the first kirtan band to ever play The New Orleans Jazz Festival. Their music has appeared on Putumayo World Music, Nettwerk/Nutone Records, White Swan Records, and Sounds True.
Vocalist and harmonium player Sean Johnson is the founder of the band. He’s been leading kirtan for the last sixteen years. His voice is equally influenced by his roots in New Orleans, vocal exploration of his ancestral Irish heritage, as well as study in Indian vocal music and love of the path of bhakti yoga-- the yoga of the heart. Sean is also a nationally respected yoga teacher, the founder of Wild Lotus Yoga studios in New Orleans, and Soul School, an interdisciplinary yoga and spirituality teacher training program that focuses on teaching yoga with imagination. He has a Master’s degree from The Naropa Institute with a focus on teaching chant as spiritual practice, is a Yoga Journal contributor and presenter, and is the co-curator of Putumayo's music for yoga series. Sean shares the practice of bhakti yoga in an inviting and accessible way that taps into the universal spirit of life, music, and yoga- weaving stories, myths, and poetry.
What others are saying about Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band: "Born and raised in New Orleans, Johnson plays kirtan in the cradle of American musical confluence—the birthplace of jazz, the home of the second line brass bands, a city where funk and blues, Latin and rock, klezmer and punk and zydeco cohabit and fuse happily. Likewise, The Wild Lotus Band’s kirtan is complex in character without sacrificing its yogic origins. Johnson’s vocals drive the songs with the earthy soul of an R&B singer, the longing of a rock star and a lilting beauty that belies his experience in Celtic music. Leading the response, Gwendolyn Colman’s honey—rich voice is so lovely you hesitate to muddy it with your own voice (though not for long, as the infectious joy of the band eventually seduces your voice from your mouth). When the two vocalists harmonize and ricochet their voices off one another, the effect is heart—buzzing. Scatting in Sanskrit? Johnson does that, too, in the first twenty-minute number, “Shiva Shankara,” bopping over the molten bass line Alvin Young laid down. Throughout the show, Young, on a fretless electric bass (and displaying similar mastery on guitar for “Jai Hanuman” and “Ram Sita Ram”) established a fat, jazzy bedrock for the sumptuous layers of harmonium and vocals and got downright funky! Make that phunky. Young is a veteran of the New Orleans music scene who has played with legendary Crescent City greats Wynton and Branford Marsalis, James Booker, and James Black. Gwendolyn Colman’s virtuosic percussion—a dizzying array of drums she flashes her fingers over, thumps into tribal rhythms or coaxes into a smooth swing—people who had never heard of Shiva Nataraj, the Indian deity of the dancing Universe—were grooving, clapping and singing along." - Elephant Journal
"Devaloka is a veritable kirtan cauldron of simmering, bubbling, delectable chants that fluidly traverse the myriad of musical styles Sean & the band bring to the stage. The gumbo feeling they bring from the gulf jives well with the musical blendings that bring to mind Grateful Dead jams, a little Santana spice in the percussion section, and an all around endearing space that draws you in with each listen. All in all, it's understandable why other chanting luminaries like Jai Uttal are so eager to endorse this group, as Sean manages to spread his bayou magic from ocean to ocean, inside and out. In Jai's words, "Sean's voice is a warm soothing river of serenity". Diving right in is the recommended plan." - Lloyd Barde, Music Editor, Common Ground Magazine, San Francisco
"A joy to listen to whether you're a yogi or anyone who appreciates wildly creative music." - Yoga Journal
"Their music will ignite the world...a hybrid of East and West that will bring joy to your heart and get your body boogieing." - Yoga Chicago
"Their music is capable of being energetic, grounding, mellow, tender, sweet - eerie, rapturous and blissful all at once." - Yoga City, NYC
"If you think that a kirtan is a pious sit-still event, you have obviously not heard SeanJohnson and the Wild Lotus Band! A very wise man (George Clinton) once said, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” Sean, Gwendolyn and Alvin have taken those words to heart and bring a little soul to some amazing bhakti (devotional) music." - Lisa West, Elephant Journal
"Imagine if Krishna Das and The Funky Meters teamed up on some tunes and you might get a sound similar to Sean Johnson And The Wild Lotus Band. But why try to box this talented group in, they are a bold and refreshing face in Kirtan style music." - Namaste Y'all
"Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus band have reinvented kirtan into an undoubtedly American sound." - Elephant Journal
"Johnson's music and teachings pay homage to the ancient lineage but also serve as a breathing art form. The talented singer acts like a beacon for Bhakti yoga." - Tess Ghilaga, Fit Yoga Magazine
"Sean Johnson's kirtan will ignite the world! Starting on slow simmer, Calling The Spirits is a jazzy hybrid of East and West that will bring joy to your heart and get your body boogieing!" -Yoga Chicago Magazine
"Perhaps the most powerful version of "I'll Fly Away" at the New Orleans Jazz Festival came from Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band. As he droned it as a private dirge in the Lagniappe Stage, his intensity silenced the talkers and sat those who wanted to dance or rhythmically clap, which would have forced a beat on a version that worked just fine without one." - Alex Rawls, Offbeat Magazine
"The band takes the essence of the bayou and merges it with Indian spiritual music for a sound that bubbles with soul and unbridled passion." - Dan Cowan, Music Design In Review
“Some serious energy flowing in every chant—there is plenty of sweetness and devotion here.”- Michael Mollura, LA Yoga Magazine
"Their music has always moved and astonished me. The melding of the depth of mantra with rockin' grooves soothes my American yogini soul." - Debi Buzil, Yoga Chicago Magazine
“Truly an awesome experience! - a musical gumbo to stir your soul. Sean has the voice of a deva, an angel - and the band is full of swing, soul, rock, jazz and healing vibrations.” - Saul David Raye
"Sean's voice is warm, soothing river of serenity." - Jai Uttal, Grammy-nominated Kirtan singer
“Sean and The Wild Lotus Band crack your heart open into a million pieces of sweetness.” - Dana Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi, Laughing Lotus Yoga, NYC & SF
"Sean is living proof of the power of the hatha yogi who also understands the power of sound. This, I believe, is the future of yoga, especially in the West, where a unique yogic culture is being developed" - Russill Paul, chant recording artist and author of 'The Yoga of Sound'