I cannot remember how or when I was first introduced to the music of what was then- and maybe still is- The Raghu Dixit Project.
This was music which transcended language and cultural barriers and where Raghu Dixit’s vocals were and still are a magnificent musical instrument.
The YouTube links are only a very small glimpse into this magnificent performer and his backing musicians
Watching them ‘live’; well, it was like nothing I had seen or heard before- the vocals which soared and dipped, the non-stop energy and some amazing virtuoso performances by bassist Gaurav and the entire band..
It was mesmerizing stuff which made me proud to be an Asian and happy to have met these guys- extremely nice, humble people.
At that time, I kept thinking that here was an artist which should be working with people like Ben Harper, Peter Gabriel, Damon Albarn The Blind Boys Of Alabama- and this will come outta left field- Jay-Z, Joni Mitchell and Cee Lo Greene.
What I didn’t wish to see was Raghu Dixit become more “ethnic” music as he and his band create and produce RAINBOW music.
Slowly- and perhaps not that slowly- things are happening for this musician, especially in the UK and parts of Europe.
Raghu Dixit and his relatively new Management team are breaking down barriers, they’re knocking on all the right doors and their music is being heard outside of the norm.
This truly is music that matters, this is Management that is actively doing something for their artist and here is an act proving that music from Asia can indeed find a place for itself in the world without being labeled “World Music.”
“World Music”, to me, means “ethnic music” which goes into a Discount bin and is played on “World Music’ radio stations.
Nah, the sound and fury and passion of Raghu Dixit belongs onstage- and where it is at its most lethal.
Thankfully, it IS now on world stages.
While I look forward to some musical collaborations, here’s something “hot off the press” about the artist.
June 2nd – Bushstock, London
June 9th – Salisbury Festival
June 10th – Shoreditch House, London
June 13th – Birmingham Town Hall
June 16th – The Great Hall, Reading
June 22nd – Apple Store, Glasgow
June 23rd – Solas Festival, Wiston by Biggar
June 24th – Brighton Dome
June 26th – TED Global, Edinburgh
July 15th – Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury
July 19th – The Duchess, York
July 25th – The Donkey, Leicester
July 27th – Cambridge Folk Festival
July 28th – WOMAD, Malmesbury
July 29th – Milton Keynes International Festival
2012 promises to be another landmark year in the remarkable story of Raghu Dixit. Raghu was completely unknown in the UK when his first album was released here in 2010, but since then that debut set has spent months in the world music charts, as Raghu won over British audiences with his powerful, soulful vocals and unique, rousing blend of Indian and Western influences. He played festivals and concert halls, won the Songlines Newcomer Award for 2011, and was invited to become an Artist In Residence at London’s Southbank.
Now Raghu’s back with new recordings, new experimental projects and collaborations, and a lengthy series of live shows, including appearances at major festivals including WOMAD, Larmer Tree, Solas, Bushstock and Cambridge Folk Festival.
In May Raghu performed live on the Andrew Marr BBC TV show.
On 3rd June, Raghu’s performance before The Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle will be broadcast on ITV to an audience of millions.
On 26th June as a testament to Raghu’s global popularity he plays at TED Edinburgh.
Raghu is a singer-songwriter with a mission to create a new style of his own, which he describes as “Indian folk-rock, with world rhythms creeping in”. He is based in the city of Bengaluru in southern India, and his aim, he says, is to bring new pride to those who speak the local language, Kannada, which is under threat as other language influences pervade. So, Raghu set out to become an international artist, singing in Kannada as well as English, and in the process publicising the work of the great Kannada poets by setting their works to new music.
Recently the download EP “Live In York” was released, recorded last summer in a stunning medieval church that is now a venue run by the National Centre for Early Music. This is an intimate, largely acoustic set in which Raghu demonstrates his powerful vocal style and guitar work on favourites that include “No Man Will Ever Love You Like I Do”, the song that transformed his career when he sang it live on Later With Jools, to an audience that included fellow-guests Adele, Robert Plant and Arcade Fire.
In April, Raghu performed at London’s Southbank Alchemy Festival, along with his band, for the world premier of a multi-media work in which he was joined by other Southbank Artists In Residence – choreographer Gauri Sharma Tripathi and her dancers, along with three members of Bellowhead (Andy Mellon on trumpet, Brendan Kelly on sax and percussionist Pete Flood).
Raghu’s new, still untitled, studio album is in the process of being recorded and Raghu promises it will be “a hundred times better than the first one, in every aspect, in the way it is packaged and recorded. After all, the last one was made with the humblest of equipment.” This new set will include “influences that have crept into the band thanks to all the travelling we have been doing in the last couple of years – I’ve met some incredible musicians along the way and I’m trying to see if I can fit them into the album. So each song will have its own flavour, and a different sound”. So, it will involve musicians from Europe and “all over India”, with songs not just in Kannada, Hindi and English but in Tamil “because that was my dad’s language. I was in a rebellious relationship with him and never learned his language”. Now, says Raghu “this is an attempt to make peace with him. He’s no more, but it’s my way of saying sorry, through a song”.
Along with the new-line-up of his band, which now includes a flute player, the album will include contributions from the three members of Bellowhead, along with Souvik Datta, a sarod player from the Hindustani classical tradition. There’s also Guru Rewben Mashanva, a celebrated folk-blues guitarist from Nagaland, in the North-East of India, with whom Raghu appeared on the cult Indian TV show, The Dewarists.
Raghu continues to develop his career in India. He has become the highest-selling non-film music artist in India following the release of his debut set. He is a highly successful composer of film scores for the Indian film market, and was nominated for the Music Directors Award at the Stardust Awards for his music for the Bollywood “rom-com” hit, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge.
Raghu is also planning a series of special music and dance shows, with choreography by his wife, Mayuri Upadhya, who runs an “Indian contemporary” dance troupe Nritarutya Dance Company, who performed with Raghu for The Queen at Windsor Castle. Mayuri has also won prestigious awards.
Born into a conservative family in Mysore, Raghu was encouraged to study Indian classical dance (at which he excelled) but his father banned him from listening to Western music, wearing jeans or playing guitar. At Mysore University, where Raghu secretly learned to play guitar, he achieved the highest marks for his year in microbiology and later worked in Belgium as a pharmaceutical researcher for a major corporation. But he gave up his successful career as a scientist to become a musician, returning to India to spend seven years working as a software-writer and composer of jingles as he saved up the money to record his debut album, released in India in 2007. The years of struggle have paid off.
Raghu Dixit is rapidly becoming a highly original Indian superstar and one of India’s most exciting cultural exports.
Raghu Dixit’s international stardom seems assured
Just one song on Later With Jools… and Raghu Dixit’s self-titled album became I-Tunes’ top world music download…..It’s easy to see why. … Tracks such as The Girl From Mysore became frenzied Asian-Celtic reels; Brendan Kelly’s saxophone slalomed and skidded through Rain Song, a new number that saw Dixit strumming flamenco-style and the Kathak dancer Gauri Sharma Tripathi putting her own modern spin on centuries-old folklore. A full house sang, danced and cheered throughout. ….”A year ago I was unknown,” marvelled Dixit, whose international stardom seems assured. Jane Cornwell , The Evening Standard
This was a triumphant night for the Indian folk-rocker Raghu Dixit
When I last saw him, in his home city Bengaluru, he was playing to a massive crowd who knew all his songs … The Queen Elizabeth Hall was packed, and treated to a bravely experimental set…he could do no wrong. He switched between Indian and western influences, from a scat mood piece that accompanied a dance sequence … to the soulful western pop of No Man Will Ever Love You Like I Do. It will be intriguing to see what he does next. Robin Denselow, Guardian
1. Award winner | Songlines “Newcomer” Award
2. Television | “No Man…” Later with Jools Holland (11/10)
3. UK Press | The Guardian (13/04/11)
4. London Gig review | Evening Standard (18/04/11)
5. Feature | Rolling Stone – India (05/11)
6. Interview | Rolling Stone – India (05/11)
7. Television | “No Man…” BBC live at Glastonbury (26/06/11)
8. UK Press | Mirror (12/08/11)
9. Official Music Video | Hey Bhagwan
10. Coke Studio @ MTV | Hey Bhagwan
11. Nokia N8 Live Sessions | I’m In Mumbai Waiting For A Miracle
Raghu Dixit (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar)
Gaurav Vaz (Bass)
Wilfred D’Moz (Drums/Percussion)
Bryden Lewis (Guitars)
Parth Chandiramani (Flute)
Kartik Ragunathan (Violin)
Manager / PR Paul Knowles (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Radio Stuart Emery (email@example.com)
TV Niki Sanderson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bookings David Flower (email@example.com)