For the last sixteen years, New Orleans-based Seán Johnson And The Wild Lotus Band (Alvin Young and Gwendolyn Colman) have been putting a New Orleans and American stamp on spiritual music by merging ancient mantras from the traditions of yoga, global chants, conscious lyrics, roots, rock, gospel and world grooves. Brought together in September 2005 initially as a creative, philanthropic touring music project in response to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, they have gone on to become an inspiring and influential presence within the realm of spiritual music. With honor and appreciation for the deep roots of sound and chant from India’s yoga traditions and sacred chants from around the world, they seek to create authentically relatable spiritually-based mantra-centric music accessible to all. The band’s music is a vehicle to create a revelatory journey that deepens connection, fosters healing, and moves people’s hearts through music.
In 2007 they released their first album Calling The Spirits independently which caught the ears of pioneering Canadian record executive Terry McBride, founder of Nettwerk Records and Lilith Fair. In 2009 McBride signed the band to Nettwerk for the release of the follow up album Devaloka engineered and co-produced by Misha Kachkachishvili (Esplanade Studios) in New Orleans. When Putumayo World Music founder Dan Storper heard Devaloka he chose music off the record to be featured in a series of Putumayo releases which include tracks from international artists designed to accompany yoga practice (Yoga, World Yoga, and Yoga Lounge) . These albums have helped propel the band’s music to listeners across the globe. Their songs have also appeared on the Sounds True and White Swan labels.
In August 2014 they released their third studio album Unity. White Swan Music describes the album as “A collection of ten unique. soul-stirring songs that reveal the band more at ease than ever with interpreting and expressing mantra music through the guts and authenticity of their own American roots. The album takes the listener on a revelatory journey through myriad sounds and flavors – from bellydance rhythms, Motown-inspired grooves, back porch stomp and gospel chorus to trance-inducing eastern strings with passionate verses from Rumi, tantra yoga sutras, and chants from a variety of spiritual traditions. Some songs are perfect for a yoga flow playlist and other for simply savoring life, at full blast.” Unity received much critical praise and debuted #1 on the iTunes World Music Chart and #3 on Billboard’s New Age Chart.
In 2021, they’ll be dropping their new album titled Mystery on Be Still Records, with 10 new songs that will be released throughout the year.
Seán, Alvin, and Gwendolyn tour extensively as a trio and are a favorite headliner at music festivals, including many spiritual, yoga, and conscious music gatherings nationwide. In 2010 they were the first kirtan band to ever play The New Orleans Jazz Festival to a large and appreciative crowd. Their debut at Jazz Fest was noted by Offbeat Magazine at the time, and chronicled in the international online magazine Elephant Journal. They were invited back to the Jazz Fest stage in 2014, where GoNOLA.com named them “Top Pick For Day 2 Of Jazz Fest” along with Phish and Robert Plant. In 2015, they made their third trip to the Jazz Fest stage to share the joy and power of their New Orleans-crafted mantra music and their set was featured in the Huffington Post, Bhakti Beat, and My Spilt Milk.
photo by: Present Time Photography
New Orleans native Seán Johnson is the founder of the band. He is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller, who has been teaching yoga for the last 24 years. He is the founder of Wild Lotus Yoga in his native New Orleans, and Soul School, an online interdisciplinary spiritual immersion and yoga teacher training program that focuses on teaching yoga with skill and imagination. In all these roles, he relishes creating a playful, tender, brave space for people to open their voices and hearts, sing, and embrace their innate creativity.
Seán has a master’s degree in Creation Spirituality from The Naropa Institute-Oakland (1999) with focus on teaching chant as spiritual practice, apprenticing there with south Indian musician and teacher Russill Paul, author of The Yoga Of Sound. Chanting mantras has been a deep and integral part of his personal spiritual practice, music, and teaching for the last 25 years.
In 2002 he founded Wild Lotus Yoga in his beloved hometown and dubbed it “New Orleans’ Home for Heart-Centered Yoga and Down-To-Earth Spirituality.”
Seán is also the co-curator and coordinator of Putumayo World Music’s ‘Music For Yoga’ series (Yoga, World Yoga, Yoga Lounge, Acoustic Yoga, Yoga Dreamland) featuring artists from around the globe.
Seán’s first significant initiations into a more conscious spirituality came through the exuberance of falling in love for the first time and then through the pain and grief of heartbreak. A journey to heal his heart led him to the path of Bhakti Yoga which deeply honors vulnerability, creative expression, and art as forms of prayer and spiritual practice. The theme of searching for grace and inspiration amidst challenge, destruction, and grief permeates his music and teaching.
Seán is passionate about his Irish roots and ancestry, and singing Irish songs, a pillar of his spirituality. He co-leads year-round online Celtic Spirituality gatherings and two retreats each year in Ireland with his friend, Ireland native Mary Meighan, founder of Celtic Journeys.
Seán lives in New Orleans with his wife Farah and son Finn.
photo by: Present Time Photography
New Orleans native Alvin brings a rich musicality and depth to the band weaving the rock, jazz, classical, and folk styles he’s been immersed in for the last 40 years. He spent years on the Crescent City music scene playing with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, local legends James Booker, James Black and many more. The hallmark of Alvin’s expression on the bass is a rare and deeply melodic quality that illuminates the trio’s sound. Music has been a pivotal part of Alvin’s spiritual journey. Alvin has also been invited by many kirtan artists to play bass and guitar including Girish, Shantala, David Newman, Luna Ray, Prema Hara, and Gina Sala.
photo by: Present Time Photography
Gwendolyn brings to the band boisterous personality, rhythm, and passionate vocals honed from years of playing with middle eastern, flamenco, and avant garde bands. Her percussion dashboard includes frame drums, cajon, high hat, kick drum, doumbek, and karbobs- playing with merging ancient rhythms with a modern, urban flare. Gwendolyn can move seamlessly from a traditional middle eastern trance rhythm, to subtle jazz brushwork, to a New Orleans hip hop street groove. Her powerful vocals are influenced by early opera training. Gwendolyn’s spiritual quest has led her from Rastafarian to Baha’i to yoga – with the heartbeat of her drum always at the center.