In a world where we are all searching for inspiration, Sangeeta Kaur, a star soprano with an angelic voice, has transformed musical expression into a powerful force for good.
Kaur has found a way to transcend traditional opera to create a spiritual experience that has captivated a unique, and growing segment of today’s music market.
“I’m a believer in ancient wisdom,” she says, “and there is something in my heart, something in my mind, something in my being…and my soul knows that none of this is just an accident.”
With a skyrocketing career, Kaur was among the top industry performers selected by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to be featured on the current season of its acclaimed music series, “Front and Center.”
The soprano star, who personally kickstarted the Seal Beach Symphony, previewed her upcoming hour-long PBS special at L.A.’s Grammy Museum this past week.
Kaur followed the preview with a live performance of several of her latest recordings for the small group of friends and well-wishers inside the museum’s Clive Davis Theater.
She was born Teresa Mai and grew up on the California coast. She knows Seal Beach very well.
As a child, Sangeeta pursued the formal study of music. Perhaps today she sings the praises of miracles because, in music, Sangeeta found a miracle of her own.
Early on, her teachers recognized Sangeeta’s natural talent. They marveled at her gifted voice. Teachers reportedly encouraged and supported her through training and scholarships.
The guiding path of this early love gave Sangeeta the gift of persistence and the desire to practice.
Eventually, she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Opera Performance from the Bob Cole Music Conservatory at California State University, Long Beach, and later, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Boston Conservatory.
Sangeeta began her career in opera. All opera. Nothing but opera, she says. But then, a funny thing happened during a fateful trip to New York.
While auditioning one day, she met a yoga master who eventually encouraged her to change her name, which also changed her perception – and her life – as well.
“I began to study yoga and spirituality deeply. And this started me to shift my entire perspective as to what my purpose was in life … my calling was to bring joy and healing to everyone through my music.”
Her experience was so profound that the yoga master suggested she change her name from Teresa Mai to ‘Sangeeta Kaur,’ which means “Princess of Music and Harmony.”
She did, and Mai is now known around the entertainment world as Sangeeta Kaur. She acknowledges her act has also changed and is blessed because it has.
“Back then, the concert was classical-heavy,” she said. “Now,” says Kaur, “it’s semi-classical, New Age, even classical re-arranged — a whole different feel. Nothing wildly extreme, just creating a different sound experience.”
Now that her musical metamorphosis is complete, Kaur’s career has taken flight. Her current act transcends the traditional soprano experience. Though intricate, Kaur gently commands the stage and everything around her during her performance.
In concert, her moves are delicate but sure. She turns away ever-so-delicately just as the cello solo begins; moves slightly to her right when the visuals change. She gives a loving, almost imperceptible look to the audience as the piano solo begins, looks up and delivers her powerful solo, exactly on cue.
Interspersed throughout her performance, Kaur utters soft-spoken, well-chosen words to encourage and inspire her audience.
Her evolutionary, spiritually infused style has been widely praised by the critics and her stagecraft called “cinematic in scope” by others in recent reviews.
“I am deeply moved by the depth of her performance,” said Shiva Baum, former head of A&R, Triloka/Mercury Records. “Sangeeta has a gorgeous angelic voice that melts into your soul and hangs on tight,” claims Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck.
“Kaur’s calling is to bring her gifts and training as a singer and producer and merge them with powerful, meaningful messages that can benefit the world in positive and uplifting ways,” said Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano Magazine.
Kaur has released five award-winning albums: Niguma, Ascension, Mirrors, Compassion and Illuminance. Her latest release, a single, is entitled “In All of Time.”
One of the industry’s leading composers, Danaë Xanthe Vlasse, who has worked with Kaur on three of her four albums, said she believes audiences are yet to hear the infinite power of Kaur’s sweet soprano voice.
“Sangeeta possesses an uncommonly vast vocal range,” said Vlasse, “so combining that with her immensely rich-toned voice creates endless possibilities for me as a composer.”
“I know I’ve only just begun to tap into all her potential… I will keep testing the limits of my own imagination as I keep writing for this sublimely gifted soprano,” she said.
During her Grammy Museum performance, Sangeeta teamed with Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann to deliver a stellar, nine-minute performance of “Penelope,” a composition from Vlasse’s “Mythologies” album.
The dramatic composition uses only the score, and two sopranos, to retell the story of Queen Penelope (wife of King Odysseus) from Homer’s epic “The Odyssey.”
“It is a 3,000-year old love story as Sangeeta and Hila portray the duality of day and night,” said Vlasse.
Kaur even brings a touch of rock royalty to her PBS segment, performing a duet written by her special guest, Jon Anderson, a composer, singer, and co-founder of the progressive rock band “Yes.”
Kaur said Anderson wrote and co-produced “Love is All” and “Sun and Rain” for the special and sings along with her on one of the tracks.
Kaur also performs a duet with her husband on the special, Hai Nguyen, who demonstrates his own singing voice and artful skill as a classical guitarist.
Her musical roots are deep in Southern California, and she is already giving back to promote the future. She, and her husband Hai, are financially backing the development of a symphony in Seal Beach to promote classical music here.
Area residents may recall when, in 2019, Kaur (appearing then as Teresa Mai) rocked Old Ranch at the sold-out “Love Songs” event in Seal Beach. The pandemic has since prevented “Love Songs” to be held in either 2020 or 2021.
The event two years ago was organized by Seal Beach resident Chad Berlinghieri, who has known and performed opera and classical music with Sangeeta since their college days.
After her performance in Seal Beach, Kaur and Nguyen presented a check representing a commitment of $100,000 to Berlinghieri to support the organization of a Seal Beach Symphony.
Berlinghieri, artistic director of Cathedral Productions and the Seal Beach Symphony, said this week he is delighted to see Kaur’s career soar, noting she will be the “Artist in Residence” for the Seal Beach Symphony.
“I have known Sangeeta since we were in college and have seen her blossom into the artist that she is today,” said Berlinghieri in an interview this week. “She is now a complete package with beauty, intelligence, and talent all rolled into one,” he said.
“Also, I’m very happy to congratulate Sangeeta on her PBS special,” he added.
“It is such an amazing accomplishment,” he said. “I know that Sangeeta has been working with Grammy award-winning artists in Los Angeles and I’m sure she (Kaur) will have her own Grammy very soon.”
Berlinghieri also announced that Sangeeta can be seen locally on February 12th, 2022, at their event “Love Songs,” to be held at the Old Ranch Country Club. Tickets are on sale now.
Also, he said, the Seal Beach Symphony has recently been awarded their federal tax exception and is now able to accept tax deductible donations. He said many area musicians will be involved in the effort.
Kaur, after the Grammy Museum event, explained why she and her husband were willing to kickstart the Seal Beach Symphony project.
“First of all, Chad is a force of nature,” said Kaur, “and he is someone that’s so devoted and dedicated to getting classical music out into the world for younger generations, for all generations.”
“Through the years he and I have known each other through college and as colleagues,” she said, “and I’m just extremely proud of everything that he’s been doing.”
“His music productions are always top notch and exceptional,” said Kaur.
“We’re [Sangeeta and Hai] always looking for exceptional artists and producers who really want to do something impactful for the community,” she said.
Kaur and Hai now split their time between California and a ranch they purchased near Austin, Texas, where they have constructed a home and “Studio Hill” recording studio, where Kaur now does some of her filming and recording.
Already, Sangeeta has been inducted into the Indie Music Hall of Fame, named Best New Female Artist of the Year, Best Classical Artist and won multiple Radio Song awards. She’s hit a high note but knows there is much more to come.
“Trust in your instincts,” she says. “Trust in your inner voice. Trust in your heart’s song. Everything and anything are possible,” says Kaur.
“Only you know your greatest potential.”
Editor’s note: “Sangeeta Kaur & Friends” special on PBS is scheduled to air Sept. 29 on local PBS affiliate stations. It will also be available on YouTube.com. More information about her upcoming appearance in Seal Beach can be found at SealBeachSymphony.com or by calling (562) 509-8640.