Born in Detroit, Michigan, Alice McLeod studied classical music, and also jazz with Bud Powell in Paris, France, where she worked as the intermission pianist at the Blue Note Club in 1960. It was there that she was broadcast on French television in a performance with Lucky Thompson, Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. She began playing jazz as a professional in Detroit, with her own trio and as a duo with vibist Terry Pollard. She married Kenny Hagood in 1960 and had a daughter with him. From 1962-63 she played with Terry Gibbs’s quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. In 1965 they were married in Juárez, Mexico.
In January 1966 she replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group. She subsequently recorded with him and continued playing with the band until his death on July 17, 1967. Coltrane became stepfather to Alice’s daughter Michele and the couple had three children: John Jr. (1964–1982), a drummer; Oranyan (b. 1967), a DJ; and Ravi (b. 1965), a saxophonist. After her husband’s death she continued to play with her own groups, later including her children, moving into more and more meditative music.
Coltrane was a devotee of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. In 1972, she moved to California, where she established the Vedantic Center in 1975. By the late 1970s she had changed her name to Turiyasangitananda. Coltrane was the spiritual director, or swamini, of Shanti Anantam Ashram (later renamed Sai Anantam Ashram in Chumash Pradesh) which the Vedantic Center established in 1983 near Malibu, California. On rare occasions, she continued to perform publicly under the name Alice Coltrane.
The 1990s saw renewed interest in her work, which led to the release of the compilation Astral Meditations, and in 2004 she released her comeback albumTranslinear Light. Following a 25-year break from major public performances, she returned to the stage for three U.S. appearances in the fall of 2006, culminating on November 4 with a concert for the San Francisco Jazz Festival with her son Ravi, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Charlie Haden.