On 18 and 20 January, musician, mystic and laughter meditation practitioner, Laraaji led a series of workshops during the opening days of the Grace Wales Bonner exhibition that became a lasting shrine of sound.
Friday 18 January 2019
Deep Immersion Listening Session
During Friday’s exhibition opening, Laraaji improvised a performance featuring his distinctive electric zither and vocal sound, inviting audiences to experience moments of quiet and silence in a listening session that explored access to inner stillness.
Sunday 20 January 2019
11am and 4pm
Laughter and Gong Tone Meditation
On 20 January, Laraaji hosted two Laughter and Gong Meditation workshops leading participants through vocal exercises to warm the mouth, throat, chest and heart, which open the body to internal laughter. Following the workshop, Laraaji used gong tones to guide participants from sound to stillness, from the roar of the external world into the serenity of the inner self.
Based in New York City, Laraaji attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington D.C. on a scholarship to study composition and piano. Laraaji began playing music on the streets in the 1970s, improvising trance-inducing jams on a modified autoharp processed through various electronic effects. It was during this time that he began to study Eastern mysticism, believing that he had found a new path for his music and life. In 1979, Brian Eno saw Laraaji playing in Washington Square Park and invited him to record an album for his seminal Ambient series (Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance, released 1980). Eno has continued to influence Laraaji’s music, as has the work of Alice Coltrane, Constance Demby, Iasos, Harold Budd and J. D. Emmanuel. It was also this time that Laraaji was invited to the new age bookshop, Tree of Life, in Harlem, where he would donate music to accompany live readings. Two of the brothers who owned the shop intuited a past life with consciousness and music within Laraaji and came up with the name that he goes by today. A celestial music pioneer whose work traverses the monastic and the ecstatic, Laraaji has continued to expand his mystic studies with gurus such as Swami Satchidananda and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, founder of the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York.