This Short Documentary Tells The Story Of Alice Coltrane’s Spiritual Transformation

Image courtesy of Luaka Bop

The Luaka Bop label will be releasing a compilation that features some of Alice Coltrane‘s first vocal work, and in anticipation of the project, a documentary has been released on Alice’s spiritual journey following the death of her husband, John Coltrane.

The seven-minute short documentary, narrated by Alice’s granddaughter Turiya, gives a brief summary of Alice and John’s musical and personal relationships, leading up to his death on July 17, 1967, and how that, along with the death of her son John Jr., led to Alice’s spiritual re-awakening. Although Alice continued to create music after John’s death, she ultimately suffered from severe weight loss and sleepless nights, as well as hallucinations, as a result of his passing.

Alice ultimately traveled to India to seek spiritual guidance from her guru Swami Satchidinanda, which then led to her abandoning her secular life, opening a Vedantic Center in California, and performing formal and informal devotional ceremonies.

Many of those performances not only saw Alice (now referred to as Turiyasangitananda) experimenting with synthesizers and creating original melodies by combining traditional chants with her gospel upbringing in Detroit but actually singing.

Some of these recordings, dating from 1982-1995, will be a part of the World Spirituality Classics, Volume 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda compilation released by Luaka Bop. Remastered by jazz giant engineer Baker Bigsby (Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and others), the 8-song compilation (10 if you purchase the vinyl) includes some of Alice’s recorded vocal work, such as “Om Shanti.”

The compilation drops on May 5. The Red Bull Music Academy Festival in New York City will also be honoring Alice with a special event celebrating her music and life (Alice would have been 69 this year).

Check out the documentary below.

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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