Kevin James Carroll was born in a large and happy family in a beautiful little fishing village in the far South of Victoria Australia.
Kevins confidence for singing was evident from an early age, though he didn't discover guitar until the age of 21 when a stranger appeared at his birthday party and offered him a song as a birthday gift.
This experience awakened his calling for music and within the space of a year he was performing locally in bands and then formed a duo with that same musician from his party and immediately started writing original songs.
Even though things seemed to be going very well, playing with the idea of becoming a musician, Kevin felt there was something more he was to offer with music so he left his home with his guitar to follow a childhood dream of traveling the world.
He first went to Asia where he discovered the teachings of the East, Tibetan Buddhism, Dzogchen, Hindu chanting and yoga.
After returning to Australia he couldn’t continue his old life in his home town so he travelled North where he started sharing music again as a solo artist playing a mixture of covers and his own songs. Tasting life in the conventional music industry he walked away again feeling that this was not his path and he started to be drawn to a journey of self discovery, studying yoga practices, different philosophical teachings, natural living and chanting mantras became a personal practice.
With the vision to contribute something harmonious and useful to the world, Kevin decided disconnect from society in the far North Queensland for 10 years, to develop and put into practice what he was learning, reconnect with nature and to discover his true nature. To find and live what he was to offer in service. At that time, he also discovered Rainbow Gatherings and its music which he embraced the universal sacred chanting.
A prolific songwriter, eventually he moved to Byron Bay and started a band called The Optimystics that fused his original songs with his passion for mantras. He also led small gatherings or chanting circles as a personal practice.
In the space of 1 year the band achieved a fast growing popularity and began to headline local festivals but again, he felt to stop and pause, with an inner knowing that this was not the way.
For Kevin, music was part of a journey of self discovery and reconnection, which is reflected in the songs and directs the listener inward to join.
Playing at festivals up on a stage while people dance was the path ahead where people were often drinking alcohol which was contrary to the space he wanted to create.
Kevin wanted a closer connection, to bring them into the experience, that they could be more involved, to co~create. He knew that this was not his destiny and walked away from the Optimystics into the unknown.
Meanwhile he continued sharing his community chanting circles and what happened after that is what would decide his fate.
The fans from the Optimystics came to the Chanting circle and they requested he sing his more lyrical and uplifting songs from the Optimystics. Thats where the fusion of a songwriter, chant leader and a shared a journey became the Heartsong chanting circle experience. One other unique aspect being that Kevin brought in his passion for the Shakuhachi flute into the circle as a way to close the circle with a flute meditation.
"With the support of great friends like Kim Kindersley who rented big houses especially for the circles, wonderful inspiring musicians who joined him and the community who loved to sing, the circles developed and eventually they outgrew the private houses with complaints to the police, not from the music but from too many cars parked in the street. So they moved into local halls and after 7 years of regular weekly circles Kevin produced his first album ONE with the whole community involved.
I discovered and developed my vision of music equally by finding what resonates with my heart, but also by giving myself the freedom to turn away from what doesn't without judgment.
I managed to pave a way of sharing music that is unique and meaningful to me, that allows me to be completely myself, independent and in charge of my own destiny. That empowers and involves others on a journey of reconnection and harmony, because I feel thats exactly what the world needs the most, so it became my greatest service.”
After some years sharing and introducing this style of music in Asia, Kevin was invited to Europe and developed friendships, connected with communities of like minds and the response was like beautiful dream.
He did it all by invitation and in the beginning it was all by donation as he went from one circle to the next.
While touring, Kevin had a strong intuition to go home and get rid of everything, so he went back to Australia and let go of his home, car, reduced his possessions to a suitcase and began a life of only going forward, head on into his vision of supporting a movement of connection to the heart.
“Just me and my suitcase and instruments. I found such a freedom and loved the simplicity.
7 years later and still it continues to grow like a tree. No pushing or pulling, just refining and taking it step by step without losing sight of my vision.
I was so blessed that when my daughter dropped out of school and joined me for 3 years where I had the privilege of walking her into womanhood from the age of 17 to 20 years old. We were together 24h 7 days a week and had an epic adventure from the far reaches of Japan to Scandinavia, Bali, Hawaii and even rafted through the entire Grand Canyon.
I watched her unfold like a flower in the rich environment of touring and playing this kind of music around the world.
After 3 years, it was clear to both of us that she needed to go home and start a kind of normal life and make new friends.
In 2016 I met Susana and we rose in love. Since then we've been touring together and Susana naturally became a harmonium player and support of the music. Nowadays, we play as a solid team while enjoying the nomadic life.”
Together they lead Heartsong Chanting Circles all over the world and also run workshops and retreats in places like Ladakh, Bhutan, Greece, sailing and Australia where they combine the use of the voice, Kevins personal practice called the morning practice sound meditations and chanting to harmonise and heal together. Supported by these powerful environments and beautiful places to create the journey of reconnection to the heart as a way to be harmonious in our emotions, mind and body, therefore our life..
Even after 2 decades of sharing, refining and defining the chanting circles, I'm still learning what it all means and probably will just hand the mystery over to future generations to continue the journey.
As simple as it may seem, there is a profound depth to these circles and there's nothing better than the experience itself to allow you to make your own assumptions about it..
Having said that, let me begin with what I do know, and that is to tell you what the Chanting Circles are, and are not.
Although people will always have there own ideas or experiences, we have no projections of being spiritual people or a spiritual group.
Chanting Circles are for everybody, old and young, any culture, colour or creed, all are welcome here. For me, its a way of bringing back devotion and prayer to build community and connectedness without sectarianism, to help people feel more connected. Although that may be the aim of most spiritual practices, we are not into telling anyone what is or is not spiritual.
I think that the more serious you take yourself, the more hilariously funny you become.
The chanting circles are a free and open space to sing and enjoy yourself, this sometimes means having a laugh, letting go and perhaps even going a bit crazy if that feels good, sometimes thats the way to arrive at a deep and profound silence within yourself.
The circles are a spontaneous flow with the energy of the room, there is not setlist or formal plan that I follow. I just flow with the energy of the night and the people, sometimes its soft and gentle and other times its full power dancing and going for it.
The chanting embraces some sacred chants and mantras from different religions, teachings and cultures from around the world in a non denominational way.
We do encourage people from different faiths to embrace our unity as global citizens and celebrate what we have in common, respect or even celebrate our differences but we don't expect this and its perfectly fine to keep your own world view or belief system as you like it.. This is why we call it a circle and sit in a circle where we are all equal and where all have a place. We use the symbol of the heart as it is something that we can all agree on, that we all share in common. In a way, we're calling people home, back to the heart center, which is a circle where we all have a voice, where we meek sit forward and the strong have to sit back. The circle is our greatest strength. Its the strongest shape, its community and connected.
I sometimes tell stories or speak gentle reminders of simple things that may point our awareness inward to make a connection with our own inner truth.
In other words, you don't need to worry about not knowing what to do. You pretty much can do what ever you want other than basic common sense stuff like, respecting the silence and other people, property etc.
We facilitate a space for you to feel comfortable and supported to sing but there is no requirement for you to do so. You can just bath in the sound, its really not a matter of singing well or badly, its a space for you to enjoy the act of expression through your voice.
Just go outside and let out a big YAHHHOOOO and see if you notice an instant change in your emotional state. Well, in that moment, who cares if you can sing or not, the most important thing is that you do it right? Thats what its about, participating.
We in the West have slowly given away one of our greatest joys and the most powerful way to feel connected and fulfilled to others who do it better and to electronic devicesto do it for us, leaving us feeling empty and disconnected. I wanted to find a way to give this back to the people again. Thats the motive, its a gift.
One of the main reasons chanting has such a powerful healing effect on people is because it works on us physically, emotionally and spiritually at the same time. Physically, through the breath, with the physical vibration of your own voice massaging your organs and whole body with healing mantras, not only from your voice but everyone else’s voices as well.
Our breathing is fundamental to how we feel in our body, and with the repetition of chanting we find ourselves breathing slower deeper and more rhythmically which calms the nervous system, relaxes muscle tension and lowers our blood pressure as our heart rate is reduced.
Mantras are beauty or harmony in word form. Singing and emotion are closely linked so when you sing mantras, they are designed to organise your emotions in a harmonious and beautiful way that then transfers to harmonise and calm our mind and body. Its that simple.
It is said that through the breath have our closest connection to our life-force and when you get a room full of people breathing together as we sing, we synchronise the breath and something magical happens. This is best left to experience so I can't encourage you enough to come and join a chanting circle and experience it for yourself. You are most welcome.
I began my journey with playing flute in 1996 its been a blessing in my life and a wonerful gift to share.
I started by making my own Shakuhachi and strangely the first flute I made turned out to be the best which was completely by chance. I was making flutes for more than a decade and some day hope to make them again, I learned allot from making flutes.
I have a passion for the yearning sounds of the Japanese style Shakuhachi and this has been main instrument of choice for all this time but I also made and play side blown bamboo and American Indian style flutes.
I tend to play without rhythm and always improvised. I find there is so much I can express with the bending of notes and close connection with my breath. I feel its my deepest expression.
I mostly share my flute at the end of a chanting circle where I invite everyone to lie down and get comfortable, then I tune in to the silence and allow the spontaneous flow of energy to rise from my belly unfiltered and raw, I listen intently and dance with it.
Sometimes I feel that the chanting circles are just to prepare the space for the flute.
Somehow I feel it wipes away our memory of the circle so that we don't attach ourselves to what was and continue connecting to and loving what IS.
Sharing my flute recordings for listening and meditation is fairly recent. 2018 is when I started to share on some platforms and the response has been so good that I'm inspired to branch my recorded music out in this direction.