Benjy and Heather Wertheimer

About Shantala Music

Benjy and Heather Wertheimer lead kirtan (sacred chanting) worldwide as the duo Shantala, with soul-stirring vocals, sacred lyrics and exotic instrumentation. The weaving of Benjy’s Indian classical singing and instrumentation with Heather’s soaring vocals is freshly original and profoundly moving. Together they create music with beauty, passion, and reverence. Shantala has performed and recorded internationally with such sacred music luminaries as Krishna Das, Deva Premal & Miten, and Jai Uttal. In summer 2008, they were named as one of the top “Wallahs to Watch” by Yoga + Joyful Living. Kirtan is a celebration of spirit through the chanting of sacred names, carrying the audience into a state of heightened awareness, bliss, and devotion. The audience is invited to participate fully through call-and-response chanting, dance, and meditation.

Heather Wertheimer is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who combines her special love of both music and yoga to lead devotional chanting for yoga workshops and spiritual gatherings internationally. Heather has toured in the U.S. and abroad with her husband Benjy, Steve Gorn, Manose, and Deva Premal & Miten. Heather’s debut CD with Shantala, “Church of Sky,” was named by New Age Retailer as one of the top ten albums of 2004. It has been aired on radio stations nationwide. In April 2003, she and Benjy released “The Love Window,” a beautiful and well-loved collection of sacred chants. In 2007, they released “Sri,” their second popular kirtan CD, and their first live CD “LIVE in love” was released in 2008.

Benjy Wertheimer is an award-winning songwriter, vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist (playing tabla, congas, percussion, esraj, guitar, and keyboards). Benjy has toured and recorded with such artists as Krishna Das, Deva Premal & Miten, Jai Uttal, Walter Becker (Steely Dan), and virtuoso guitarist Michael Mandrell. He has opened for such artists as Carlos Santana, Paul Winter, and Narada Michael Walden. A founding member of the internationally acclaimed Ancient Future world fusion music ensemble, Benjy also toured the U.S., Canada, and Japan with renowned bamboo flute master G.S. Sachdev. He studied Indian classical music for over 25 years with some of the greatest masters of that tradition (including Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Ali Akbar Khan and Z. M. Dagar). Benjy’s CDs receive extensive airplay around the world, and his CD “Circle of Fire” went to #1 on the New Age radio charts in November 2002.

For more about Benjy Wertheimer,

9 Reasons Singing is GOOD for You During Breast Cancer

"Faerie" Elaine Silver Singer/Songwriter

“Faerie” Elaine Silver Singer/Songwriter

By  Elaine Silver

The plain fact is that singing is GOOD for you! It comes through your communication or 5th chakra, and is symbolized by the color blue. Sound therapist Jovita Wallace states, “Sound vibrations massage your aura, going straight to what’s out of balance and fixing it.” We all need a healthy throat center and we all need to communicate feelings of Truth, which serve the world. Science has shown many benefits of singing and chanting. Studies into the health benefits of singing conducted at Canterbury University showed positive associations between singing and feelings of well-being: Singing:

  1. improves one’s mood. It releases the same feel-good brain chemicals as sex and chocolate!
  2. is very effective as a stress reliever and improves sleep
  3. releases pain-relieving endorphins in the brain
  4. improves posture
  5. increases lung capacity
  6. clears sinuses and respiratory tubes
  7. improves mental alertness
  8. tones facial and stomach muscles
  9. boosts the immune system, helping to fight disease and prolonging life expectancy

Researchers at the University of Manchester have discovered that the sacculus, a little organ in the inner ear, responds to frequencies commonly found in music, and is connected to the part of the brain responsible for registering pleasure. This sacculus is only responsive to low frequency, high intensity sounds, which include singing, and it responds within a few seconds of hearing that kind of sound. So you get immediate pleasure when you sing, regardless of what it sounds like to anyone else. Now if there are no criticisms or put downs from anyone else to cause you pain, you ́ll find the experience enjoyable and get release of good old pleasure-giving endorphins as well. Singing provides catharsis across the full emotional spectrum. It can give a directly-experienced, felt-sense of happiness. It́’s a mood lifter and anti depressant with no side effects. And it has been clearly documented by many health professionals that mental and physical health are intimately linked.

As a high school student in the 70’s, I was accepted into All State Chorus, All North Jersey Chorus and attended summer camp at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. What I remember as the highlight of these experiences is the feelings of upliftment and even Oneness with the group dynamic, which also created a wonderful sense of community. And now as a presenter of a fusion- style kirtan, affectionately named “Kirtonica,” I am again feeling and helping to inspire the feeling in others, a sense of Oneness, as well as love, devotion, joy, bliss and light. Chanting creates an experience of the Divine within, and I can think of nothing better than to co-create this expanded awareness with a group of willing souls. This state is the ultimate in healing the entire being. Jai Bhagwan and Namaste’!

Written and compiled by “Faerie” Elaine Silver. Portions of this article were obtained on the Internet by googling “Health Benefits of Singing.” 
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