Music News

The Beatdown

Think Jack White's slick for reanimating the spirit of the Delta bluesmen? White's got nothing on Shanti Shanti: Andrea and Sara Forman are breathing life into passages that have been dead for over 5,000 years. "Sanskrit provides people with an awesome experience, and we call that the Sanskrit buzz," says Andrea. "Basically, it's a feeling of absolute clarity and heightened sensory perception. You're very calm and very excited at the same time."

Hmm...sounds like hippie lettuce without the legal ramifications.

Actually, according to, Sanskrit is "among the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family," the ancestor of languages around the globe. And how did two sisters from Sparks, Nevada, learn a language that was obsolete before Jesus was kickin' in Jerusalem? "Our parents were very spiritual and believed in exposing us to all the different spiritual paths," Andrea explains. "We'd heard priests from India chanting Sanskrit. My sister and I just decided that we wanted to learn it. Essentially, it was kind of like we knew it already. We were able to read and write and chant and translate Sanskrit. Does that make sense? "

Not really, and it gets weirder from here. "We call ourselves the only Sanskrit rock group in the world," says Andrea. "We basically sing ancient poetry from India. It's very beautiful, and we pair that with rock songs that my dad has written."

Rock is a relative term; Shanti Shanti's songs are about as rockin' as Enya's. But it's about more than the music. "We just absolutely fell in love with the way Sanskrit made us feel," Andrea says. "And we really felt that we wanted to give other people the same feeling."

Already, Shanti Shanti has been on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno twice. And Michael Cadwell was so moved by their voices when they performed at a talent search at his club, Avalon, that he didn't forget them after the place closed. "They came through the auditions with the weirdos from Nashville," he says. "I just heard two songs and I was like, ŒWho are these angels on my stage? And what are they doing here?' I literally was blown away."

Cadwell wound up flying to California to catch Shanti Shanti's performance at a wellness festival, intent on wooing the Formans to Mootown. Fortunately for Cadwell, the girls and their father realized that the band needed a bigger home base, and two months ago Shanti Shanti relocated to Denver. On Thursday, November 18, Shanti Shanti headlines at the Boulder Theater, bringing along its fifth disc, Boy From the City of Angels, a five-song EP containing tracks from a forthcoming full-length.

Today Boulder, tomorrow the world. Cadwell says the date will be filmed so that PBS stations across the country can broadcast it.

That Sanskrit buzz must be potent.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera