Dare we call her a musician of Hinduism?

April 2017 marked 10 years since the death of the visionary musician Alice Coltrane. The partner of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, Alice was a pianist, harpist and globally-renowned composer.

In rememberance, a compilation of her lesser-known work from her final years, titled World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda was released. It quickly reached the top of Billboard Charts in the New Age and World Music category.

Much of the material was influenced by Coltrane’s visits to India, which in turn inspired Alice to take up the Hindu faith. She became a spiritual leader at an ashram in California, with hundreds of devotees. She also took on the name Turiyasangitananda, which means “the highest song of god”. It’s fitting then that her “cosmic jazz and spiritual compositions have been described as prayers for humanity”.

The short film (video above) narrated by her daughter Turyia Coltrane accompanies the release of the album. It focuses on what propelled her towards the Hindu faith in her final years. In the months following the death of her husband, she became depressed, and found solace in India and in the teachings of Chennai’s Swami Satchidananda. He was the inspiration behind her fourth studio album, Journey in Satchidananda. According to a profile of Alice Coltrane, Satchidananda toured the US in the 1960s and opened the famous Woodstock festival.

“Yes, my mother was way ahead of her time,” Michelle Coltrane, her eldest child, said. “She was a home-girl from Detroit who founded an ashram in the west. Meditation is now part of everyday talk, but back then, it was considered strange, and yoga was seen as just a bunch of people who laid on top of mats on the floor. But mom was always different.”

The short film also borrows footage from the historic BBC film Bombay And All That Jazz, which recorded the concert organised by double violinist L Shankar in the city on New Year’s Day, 1992.