The Spiritual Arts Foundation

Elise & Charlie together in Hope, Love and Faith

November 9, 2022

Elise and Charlie
Kirtan at Ecstatic Dance Festival Holland 2020

Elise and Charlie are sacred music artists based in Devon (UK), who met at one of Elise’s community Kirtan events whilst she was also looking for someone special to co-produce her next mantra album, following a successful crowdfunding campaign. 

Charlie’s arrival began an artistic collaboration that soon became much more, with their love story blossoming as they worked together on their album. 2021 was their year of creativity, with the release of their album ‘Hope Love Faith’ on July 23rd and the birth of their baby boy, Arkaya, on October 17th. 

Elise’s introduction to the spiritual world was through joining her mother at spiritual events as a child. This sparked a curiosity which Elise followed through reading books about spirituality, and channelling. Whilst in London at dance school, she discovered yoga and found the practice an antidote to the London lifestyle. At 22, she left the capital and returned to Somerset discovering Soka Gakkai International, a worldwide society for the creation of value, founded upon the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. She devoted herself to a twice-daily chanting practice and became involved with the meetings and activities of the community. 

Elise and Charlie
Elise in the forest taken by Julian Marcus

Alongside this, at the age of 25, Elise trained as a yoga teacher with The Devon School of Yoga and began her journey of teaching a practice that she had found great value in. During her training, she was introduced to many yogic practices, including Kirtan where her love for devotional singing and the power of chanting was born. The melodic elements of mantra spoke to the singer and musician within Elise, as she had been a folk singer for many years. 

Elise’s father passed away when she was 30 years old, and this triggered a realisation that something needed to change for her, both in her personal practice and as a musician. Elise recalls some wise souls encouraging her to fully dive into her Kirtan practice and to allow her creativity to merge and dovetail with her heart's desire to sing her prayers through the mantras she was discovering. She followed that advice, and everything changed, with Kirtan becoming her core practice, and her yoga teaching evolving to include Kirtan. 

In 2019, Elise released Lakshmi, an hour-long mantra album which was made by the request of Elise’s teacher, Padma Devi Sumananda. 50% of the proceeds from this album is donated to the Heart of Living Yoga Foundation’s incredible charitable work around the world. Elise was able to travel with the charity to Sri Lanka, visiting remote regions and assessing the needs of those living there and delivering vital resources. It was after this humbling experience, that the Lakshmi album was born. 

Ultimately, Elise was able to merge her creativity with her spiritual practice to come into alignment with her soul purpose, to live and love from her heart centre and to live according to her values and beliefs, qualities that inspire her every day. 

Growing up, Charlie’s parents were spiritual seekers, and he was immersed in the spiritual world. He recalls being presented with many opportunities to learn about and discover spirituality for himself. Growing up in India he was surrounded by Kirtan and other spiritual practices and found his spiritual home in Buddhism and Yoga. At the age of six he began to practice yoga to support his asthma and was able to cure it through Pranayama (breathwork), which inspired a lifelong journey of developing his innate skills as a healer and energy worker. 

Elise and Charlie
Elise, Charlie, and Arkaya on Dartmoor (photo credit Diana Dunn)

Alongside this spiritual awakening as a child, was Charlie’s creative awakening. His love of music came from his involvement in dance which began with him joining his mother’s ballet school at the age of four years old. Twelve years later, his professional studio career began and since then has involved sound engineering, music production and DJing. 

Like Elise, Charlie also spent a great deal of time following a Buddhist path (the New Kadampa Tradition), which involved chanting and mantra and led him to numerous retreats and fulfilling, deeply personal, experiences throughout his spiritual growth. 

Naturally, Charlie’s plentiful experience in working with mantra, and his gifts in music and healing combined, and his vision and dream to be part of a mantra band, healing through music, was born. 

Before meeting, Elise and Charlie had both been following Buddhist traditions, and were deeply immersed in spiritual practices, including mantra. They were both also working as musicians, and had a heartfelt desire to share mantra with others. They had individually merged their own creativity and spiritual paths, so coming together felt like a natural progression of the journey’s they had been on personally. 

When they began to collaborate, they were able to share their joy and passion of working with mantra, complimenting each other's energies and working together towards a shared vision of the world. As their love story developed, they recognised that to them, their work feels like the natural result of them meeting and connecting from their heart centres, supporting each other to do what they love and share the tools and practices that have supported them throughout their journey’s. 

Blending their personal spiritual paths, and their unique musical talents, Elise and Charlie have created contemporary compositions of ancient mantras and sacred songs which they share through their exquisite Kirtan events and retreats. 

Elise and Charlie
Kirtan at Embercombe Ecstatic Dance retreat 2020 (Photo credit Soul Focus Media)

They are truly devoted to creating and sharing music that inspires transformation, spiritual awakening, peace, healing and unity in diversity through their kirtan concerts, yoga and sound baths, cacao ceremonies, healing retreats, and online events and classes. 

More recently, their devotion to sharing Kirtan has developed into ‘Learn to Lead Kirtan’ events which have taken the form of taster workshops, a 3-month closed apprenticeship and more recently, a residential retreat where attendees were invited to dive deeply into their own devotional singing practice and learn to play mantras from Elise and Charlie’s repertoire. 

It is their retreats that really capture the essence of their spiritual philosophy and enable people to come together to create a community and go on a shared journey together over the course of a few days. This year, Elise and Charlie held their ‘Enliven the Spirit’ retreat, which beautifully united both their shared and individual offerings into a call to celebrate the sacredness of life through breath, movement, music, silence, nature, massage, dance, ceremony, food, ritual, heartfelt connections, and community. It was a deep dive into the beauty of embracing the inner seeker, rediscovering joy, igniting passion, and freeing expression of the truest self. 

Elise and Charlie
Hope Love Faith Album launch kirtan concert in Devon, taken by Lottie Finklaire

In addition to their own events, Elise and Charlie are often invited to participate in retreats and festivals, offering their Kirtan and ceremonies in a variety of different settings. They are always delighted to be invited to share their gifts and offerings, keen to expand their connections and the sense of community that generates as a result of their work.

The examples above, and indeed, everything that Elise and Charlie offer, is infused with the energy of their firm belief that within everyone is a light and purpose, and that all beings have a gift to bring to the world. This shared vision that they hold drives them to support others to find their inner purpose and their gift, and to share this, with a deep inner knowing that doing so will contribute to making the world a better place. 

Elise and Charlie are now immersed in raising a family together, and in many ways, this has become their spiritual practice. As such, their vision of the world and the work they do feels even more pertinent, as they wish to make the world a better place, not only for their own children, but for all living beings, and for all generations to come. 

With this in mind, and after being incredibly moved by David Attenborough’s witness statement film ‘A Life On Our Planet’ they have sought to ensure that their work reaches further than those they directly work with. Elise and Charlie have become a climate positive workforce and have partnered with Ecologi to responsibly plant trees and fund the best climate crisis solutions around the world. They make a regular monthly donation and plant trees for every attendee at their events, retreats and online classes, as well as for purchases of their albums. So far they have planted over 1700 trees!

It is with this energy and philosophy that Elise and Charlie do their work - with an intention, wish and passion to contribute to the greater good. 

Elise and Charlie
Hope Love Faith album cover

In terms of their personal vision for the future, Elise and Charlie hope to continue to create, record and produce their mantras - particularly because, as their repertoire grows, so do requests from loyal supporters for more recordings! In the not too distant future, there is hope for another crowdfunding campaign, and ultimately another mantra album to add to ‘Hope Love Faith’, ‘A Space For You’ (a guided meditation album) and Lakshmi (Elise’s 2019 solo album, which was made by request of Elise's teacher Padma Devi Sumananda, and donates 50% of its proceeds to the Heart of Living Yoga Foundation's incredible charitable work around the world). 

Their wider vision and wish for the world is perfectly captured by one of their favourite mantras ‘Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu’ translated as “May all beings everywhere be happy, free and at peace. And may my thoughts, words and actions contribute towards that happiness, freedom and peace somehow"

Elise and Charlie have a number of additional offerings beyond their devotional music, all with the aim of sharing the tools that have supported them the most, and to enable others to rise to their fullest potential. 

Elise is a yoga and pilates teacher, currently running online classes and 1-1s weekly. She is also a trained Life Coach, specialising in women's work, offering one-to-one sessions and programmes in addition to her work as a women’s circle facilitator. Charlie currently offers online Qi Gong classes and is a highly trained healer and energy worker, with over 25 years experience offering a wide variety of treatments from Ashburton in Devon. 

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The Spiritual Arts Foundation
The Spiritual Arts Foundation is dedicated to promoting arts related projects that specifically demonstrate a vision of spirituality at their core. We represent all positive and life-affirming spiritual and religious beliefs.
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