Mike Cohen sings and plays harmonium to lead Kirtan in a manner that blends Eastern spirituality and Western musical influences. Eastern spirituality is represented by Sanskrit mantras that can calm minds and open hearts for the sake of cultivating the Divine energy that generates love, freedom and creativity. Western musical sensibilities are represented by typically American/Western musical influences such as funk, soul, rhythm and blues, jazz and rock.
Mike's music is an expression of the Dattatreya lineage of Swami Kaleshwar and Shirdi Sai Baba as transmitted through the teachings of Philip Lipetz, author and one of Sri Kaleshwar's most senior Western students. Mike currently tours internationally with vocalists Joni Allen and Allie Stringer, tabla wizards Jim Feist and Andy Skellenger, bassists Mark Gorman and Patrick Hammond, as well as many other top musicians from today's Kirtan scene. His debut album, Om Dattatreya: Journey to the West was released in August, 2009, and has garnered rave reviews in Chicago Yoga and LA Yoga Magazines.
Mike’s musical roots go back to early childhood. In 1984, he won the top scholarship for outstanding musicianship at the Berklee School of Music High School Jazz Festival. He went on to study jazz saxophone at the renowned Eastman School of Music, touring and recording with Eastman's top jazz ensembles. In 1991 he won a National Endowment of the Arts grant to study saxophone with jazz recording artist and educator Jerry Bergonzi and also studied with the esteemed saxophone teacher John Purcell. He has toured throughout the United States and the Caribbean with jazz and blues notables.
In 1994, Mike left the world of music to focus on other commitments which led him through the worlds of Integral and Somatic Coaching, leadership training, spirituality/energetic studies and practices, politics and entrepreneurship. In April, 2000, Mike attended his first yoga class where he discovered and immediately fell in love with the practice of Kirtan. He sings and plays harmonium to lead Kirtan events based around his original chants. In the fall of 2006 he launched First Friday Kirtan in Columbus, Ohio, a program that quickly became one of the larger local and ongoing Kirtan events in the United States. Mike currently tours the United States and internationally, offering Kirtan events and workshops to open-hearted souls!