“Song Divine – The Bhagavad Gita Rock Opera” by Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli | Album Review by New Age CD Staff and New Age Notes Radio Staff
An extraordinarily remarkable album on every level. – Dyan Garris
“Song Divine” is the very ambitious project by best-selling author/songwriter Lissa Coffey and award-winning producer/composer David Vito Gregoli. I’m hoping mere words can suffice for this very special collaboration. But I doubt it. It’s an experience.
First, for those that do not know, “The Bhagavad Gita,” (meaning “Divine Song”), is the most famous of ancient Hindu texts. “The Bhagavad Gita” manuscript, consisting of 18 chapters, is found in the sixth book of the “Mahabharata” manuscripts, and is often studied on its own. Essentially, it is a 700-verse sacred Hindu scripture. It is also the second best-selling book and the second most translated book in the world, after the Bible.
The “Gita” is an ancient manuscript that was originally written in Sanskrit as a song/poem, intended to be memorized and passed down through generations. However, when the book is translated into English, it loses its natural rhythm and rhyme. Lissa Coffey created a rhyming, English language version, “Song Divine: A New Lyrical Rendition of the Bhagavad Gita.”
From there, Lissa, along with music producer/composer David Vito Gregoli transformed “Song Divine,” the book, into a concept album. If I understand correctly, the album is now the basis for an upcoming epic stage show, akin to the likes of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Godspell,” and “Hamilton.” Huge. Timely. And very exciting.
“Song Divine,” is a double album collection of 18 original songs, plus a bonus track (the 11-minute, “Maha Mantra”), each piece based upon a traditional Indian rag. The tracks are a compelling fusion of “East meets West,” implementing Indian instrumentation, and fashioned in a memorable pop/rock style. Other instrumentation includes piano, synth, organ, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, and drums. Sonu Nigam, Deepak Ramapriyan, Alexander Perez, Visvambhar Sheth, Venu Bhanot, and Kimberly Haynes, as well as David Vito Gregoli, all contributed vocals to the tracks.
Sonu Nigam, by the way, is a “Bollywood” favorite and is considered the “Elvis Presley of India,” with millions of followers and fans worldwide. Deepak Ramapriyan is the lead singer and violinist for the rock/pop band The BOLT and the world sacred music band, Breath of Life Tribe. Lissa Coffey traveled to Mumbai, India, to work on this project with Sonu Nigam and a team of renowned Indian artists and musicians, including co-producer Upmanyu Bhanot. (Full album credits are available in the iTunes booklet).
The album opens with a 6-minute spoken word intro narrated by Venu Bhanot, laying the foundation and describing a classic battle between two opposing forces of “good” and “evil.” This is, of course, a perfect opening to the album. “Life’s Lament,” (Rag Kali), immediately follows.
“Know Who You Are,” (Rag Bilavel), was released as a single from the album, and features the outstanding vocal of Sonu Nigam. This is smooth and flowing, it is quite easy to see why he is so extraordinarily popular. As well, the production (David Vito Gregoli), and instrumentation are outstanding here, and throughout the album. This is wonderful in every regard.
Space doesn’t permit the addressing of every track, and as I said, this is a full experience, so you have to get the whole thing, as well as hopefully, someday, attend the forthcoming rock opera stage production, but some other favorites include: The funky “Lotus in the Pond,” (Rag Adana Bahar), is amazing. “Meditation,” (Rag Dhani), is calming and soothing to the spirit. Particularly enjoyable here, and throughout the album, are the vocals of Deepak Ramapriyan, which are full, rich, and emotionally evocative.
“Brahman,” (Rag Bhairavi), as I understand it, is a central concept to Hinduism. The piece has a sort of contemporary hip-hop beat and is quite catchy and memorable. “A Spark From Me,” (Rag Gaud Malhar), is smooth and flowing, and also quite enjoyable. “Devotion” is just gorgeous, as is every single track. Wow! Truly, a remarkable project on all levels.
Be sure to watch the introduction video here: https://youtu.be/TSkLhB4KBV0
Full playlist of videos for this album:
Available streaming everywhere or get the physical double CD here: https://www.amazon.com/Song-Divine-Bhagavad-Gita-Opera/dp/B09GRSPV63/
More information at the official website: https://www.coffeytalk.com/songdivine/
LAZZ Promotions: Ed & Stacey Bonk
E-mail: [email protected]