Folk musicians from US and India collaborate
Under a cultural exchange program, folk musicians from America and India are collaborating and jamming together to create a new kind of fusion
As part of the American Music Abroad program to communicate US’s rich musical contributions and diverse culture, an all-female string group ‘Laura Cortese and The Dance Cards’ jammed with ‘baul’ singers in Kolkata recently.
Last year Malabika Brahma from ‘Brahmakhyapa’ music band which follows the tradition of the Bauls, mystical musicians from Bengal, had visited US to collaboratively write, produce, and perform original music with local artists under the ‘OneBeat’ programme.
During their Kolkata tour, American folk musician Mariel Vandersteel tried playing the Indian stringed instrument ‘dotara’, used by the baul singers, while baul musician Sanjay tried his hands on the guitar.
Together with ‘Brahmakhyapa’ and another folk band ‘Sahajiya’, the American musicians took part in a workshop-cum-jamming session at the American Centre last week.
They also came up with a fusion concert which was an eclectic blend of American and Bengali roots music traditions where fiddle and cello kept pace with the beats of ektara, khol and ghungur.
“I loved the sound of ‘dotara’. I want to take it back home,” said Vandersteel. Sanjay, on the other hand, admitted he had a tough time handling the guitar.
The US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has partnered with American Voices to engage with musicians and audiences across the world through American Music Abroad programs to give them the chance to directly interact with American artists.
The band has already toured Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune and is now headed to Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.