If Hildegard Can Do It, Why Not Rumi?
New Age guru to the stars Deepak Chopra is already a best-selling author, with 21 books to his credit. Now the spiritual advisor to the stars, who counts Madonna, Demi Moore and Martin Sheen among his disciples, is looking to make an impact in the record business.
Chopra’s first album, “A Gift of Love,” is a musical homage to Rumi, a 13th century Hindu writer and mystic whose erotically charged poetry has been an inspiration to Chopra since he was 9 years old.
For the record:
12:00 a.m. Nov. 8, 1998 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday November 8, 1998 Home Edition Calendar Page 119 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Mystic Mistake: In his story on Deepak Chopra’s album based on the poetry of Rumi, Marc Weingarten identifies Rumi as “a 13th century Hindu writer and mystic” (Pop Eye, Nov. 1).
Jalaluddin Rumi was not a Hindu; he wasn’t even Indian. Rumi was a Sufi, a Muslim mystic. He lived in the modern-day Turkey and Syria, and wrote his poems in Persian.
When Random House sold more than 50,000 copies of some of Rumi’s poetry earlier this year--a project that was shepherded by Chopra--the business-savvy entrepreneur figured an album of Rumi’s poetry might have similar commercial potential.
“Madonna was staying at my house not too long ago, and she had brought back three volumes of Rumi poetry from the bookstore, not knowing that I love him too,” says San Diego-based Chopra. “She told me she thought his poems were very musical, so we took it from there.”
“A Gift of Love” features a host of celebs reciting the poetry of Rumi accompanied by the tranquil soundscapes of composers Adam Plack and Yaron Fuchs. In addition to Madonna, Moore and Sheen, the album also features Blythe Danner, Debra Winger, Goldie Hawn and others.
“I regard Deepak as a highly innovative spirit,” says Hawn. “And I share his love of Rumi, having spent some time in India myself. He fills my heart with joy, and I connect to his poetry deeply. Anything that allows people to tap into the divine part of themselves is worthwhile.”
“Rumi was the first hippie, in a sense,” says Chopra. “He was a totally free soul, and a passionate lover of life.”
Chopra describes the recording sessions, which took place at New York’s Eastside Studio, as magical. “I was bewildered by the spontaneity of it all,” he says. “It was almost as if Rumi decided he was going to come back, 700 years after his death.”
“A Gift of Love” is the first release on raSa, an upstart cross-cultural label that’s a joint partnership with Tommy Boy, the New York-based hip-hop company.
“I love Deepak, and I’ve always been interested in his books,” says Tommy Boy chairman Tom Silverman. “He’s got a large audience, and I also think there’s a broader audience that will be interested in his and Rumi’s message of love.”
Although the official release date isn’t until Tuesday, a special two-CD version of the project that Chopra has been selling at his lectures has already sold 11,000 copies. Says Silverman, “Basically, we were interested in making the biggest-selling poetry record of all time,” says Silverman.