Born in Detroit, Michigan, Coltrane 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 (Michele) from that union. From 1962 to 1963 she played with Terry Gibbs's quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. In 1965 they were married in Juárez, Mexico and 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. John Coltrane became stepfather to Alice's daughter Michele (Miki), and the couple had three children: drummer John Jr. (1964–1982), and saxophonists Oranyan (b. 1967) and Ravi (b. 1965).
After her husband's death she continued to play with her own groups, later including her children, moving into more and more meditative music. She was one of the few harpists in the history of jazz and recorded many albums as a bandleader. Her essential recordings were made in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! Records.
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 album Translinear Light. Following a twenty-five-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 in San Francisco with her son Ravi, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Charlie Haden.
In 1994, Coltrane appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in African American society was named "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.
Alice Coltrane died of respiratory failure at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles. She is buried alongside her late husband John Coltrane in Pinelawn Memorial Park, Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York.
Paul Weller dedicated his song "Song For Alice (Dedicated to the Beautiful Legacy of Mrs. Coltrane)," from his album 22 Dreams, to Coltrane; the track entitled "Alice" on Sunn O)))'s 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions was similarly inspired. Electronic musician Flying Lotus is the nephew of Alice Coltrane.
A Monastic Trio (1967)
Huntington Ashram Monastery (1969)
Ptah, the El Daoud (1970)
Journey in Satchidananda (1970)
Universal Consciousness (1972)
World Galaxy (1972)
Lord of Lords (1973)
John Coltrane: Infinity (1973)
Reflection on Creation and Space (a Five Year View) (1973)
Illuminations (1974) with Carlos Santana
Radha-Krisna Nama Sankirtana (1976)
Turiya Sings (1982)
Divine Songs (1987)
Infinite Chants (1990)
Glorious Chants (1995)
Priceless Jazz (1998)
The Music of Alice Coltrane: Astral Meditations (1999)
Translinear Light (2004)
The Impulse Story (2006)
As a sideperson:
Terry Gibbs Plays Jewish Melodies In Jazztime - with Terry Gibbs - (1963)
Hootenanny My Way - with Terry Gibbs - (1963)
El Nutto - with Terry Gibbs - (1964)
Cosmic Music - with John Coltrane - (1966)
Live At The Village Vanguard Again! - with John Coltrane - (1966)
Live In Japan - with John Coltrane - (1966)
Stellar Regions - with John Coltrane - (1966)
Expression - with John Coltrane - (1967)
The Olatunji Concert - with John Coltrane - (1967)
Extensions - with McCoy Tyner - (1970)
The Elements - with Joe Henderson - (1973)