It is impossible to listen to Aradhna without a sense that something much deeper is brooding under the music. Spirituality is such an easy term to throw around when speaking about a thing you can’t explain but nonetheless feel. It’s a term that breeds ambiguity and at times, misunderstanding. Nonetheless it is a word that is necessary in describing the formation and subsequent work of Aradhna. After all, the name of the band is the spiritually charged Hindi term that means “adoration.” Popular music is often made to settle into the nooks and crannies of our daily humdrum, like an elixir against the pain of human existence. We drink it in and feel a bit better but we don’t expect it to change anything beyond our emotional state. Aradhna is a band with higher aspirations, making music that is centered around spiritual enlightenment and transformation while keeping ethnic integrity intact.
We live in an an age where cross-cultural musical projects are a dime a dozen, and all too often they result in a half-baked, watered-down muddle of eclectic instruments banging into each other. The sitar was introduced to rock and roll way before many of us were born. World music has been around long enough to go in and out of style many times over. Western attempts at eastern music is an arena where many more fail than succeed. It’s a road that is fraught with cultural and aesthetic baggage that ensnares all but a few who have managed to produce something worth listening to. Aradhna is among the few who have created a new and enduring sound out of diverse musical traditions of North India and North America.
Somehow, Aradhna has been able to glide past the subterfuge of globalization and establish itself as a band that is genuinely interested in creating cross-cultural dialogue through the arts. They are the real deal and they sing in a bunch of languages and people from all over the world are listening to their music.
Aradhna’s front man Chris Hale writes, “…my passion in life is to build bridges between cultures. A good bridge builder has a strong foundation on his own side and then builds a strong foundation on the other side, and then he crosses over.” Strong foundations are indeed one of the defining characteristics of Aradhna’s founding members. Chris Hale, an American, spent his childhood and adolescence in South Asia, where he gained fluency in Nepali and Hindi. It was in these formative years that Chris began to study the sitar and develop a love for bhajans, the classical devotional genre of India, and particularly of Hindus. In 1991 Chris formed the rock fusion band Olio and toured all across India for 6 years before releasing their first Hindi album Naam Leo Re (1997). Later that year, American guitarist and vocalist Pete Hicks returned to India, the land of his birth, to join the band in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Olio concluded its final tour in 1999 and soon after Hale and Hicks reunited in London. Soon the two friends began a new collaboration that would evolve into Aradhna.
As soon as Chris and Pete had enough material for an album, they decided to record in the U.S. where they met up with bassist Travis McAfee. The three of them had an instant rapport, as Travis spent part of his childhood traveling to Africa, India, and throughout Southeast Asia.
Aaradhna is available for corporate events, private shows, milestone celebrations (birthday, anniversary), fundraisers, festivals, and more.