Rendering the toughest compositions in the most endearing way, with winsome smiles and a casual presence on stage, the Navatman group will have your foot tapping and lips moving in sync with them. Music lovers are sure to hear a fresh sound in their music. Navatman Music Collective, a vibrant, energized choir of talented Indian-American musicians, bring unique performances integrating Carnatic music with different genres while attempting to keep the discipline and originality of classical music alive. Their passion to sing, entertain and preserve classical music coupled with a powerhouse of stellar talent has helped them carve a niche for themselves.
Navatman concerts have the right mix of fusion thrown in, without disrupting the traditions of classical music, which makes them a unique group of talented musicians. Their signature style brings out the depth and beauty of Carnatic music garnished with elements of fusion, packaged to please the young and the old alike.
Founded to create a sustainable home for South Asian Arts in New York and its surrounding neighborhoods, with the goal of preserving Indian classical music and dance, Navatman brings in a freshness and versatility to their performances, taking music to a whole new level. Here’s an interview with this talented group of musicians.
Tell us about the origin of the group
NMC: It is the sheer joy, passion and love for Carnatic music that formed NMC.
Roopa Mahadevan and Sahasra Sambamoorthi, the founders of Navatman Collective knew each other for a long time and they shared a love for Carnatic music.
“We often discussed ideas about how we can bring the arts that we love to an audience and so we started a choir together and called a bunch of musicians we knew and that’s how we started slowly. Our first performance was in 2014 November,” said Sahasra.
What is the meaning of the name – Navatman?
NMC: It means nine aspects of the soul. The name encompasses multi-layered nuances that is beyond what meets the eye, which holds true for any art form. It is also another name for Lord Shiva.
You have a unique style of blending Carnatic music with contemporary influences.
What was the thought behind this?
NMC: It’s the love for music that goes beyond a genre. We always bring the same seriousness whether it is a kriti, a bhajan, a ghazal or a Bollywood number. When we want to experiment with something, if we like the sound of it and if it speaks to our soul, we go with it. It does not matter if it is Bollywood music, hip hop, Carnatic music or anything else. We are not afraid to explore as everyone in the group loves and respects Carnatic music.
What has the biggest challenge been for you so far?
NMC: The biggest challenge is to create a sustainable career in the arts. We want this to be something that people can do full-time. It is not easy to build new audiences in a city as diverse as New York.
Which has been your more satisfying performance until now?
NMC: The first time we performed in 2014 at Columbia University was something we remember. Not everyone in the audience was familiar with Carnatic music and yet they enjoyed it immensely. It was very satisfying for us as artists!
I have watched several videos of your rehearsals and they seem like so much fun.
Tell me a little more about the process.
NMC: Yes, our rehearsals are always fun. We meet for 2 hours every week on a weeknight since most of us have day jobs. It is this discipline and commitment that brings us together. Rehearsals are full of love, laughter and music. It is our home away from home for us here in a busy city like New York. Art plays a special role through the vibe we bring to the music.
Drive East sounds like a melting pot of artists. Can you tell me a little more about the festival?
NMC: Drive East brings together artists from all over the globe for one of the most ambitious and lauded congregations of Indian classical music and dance. There’s something for all music lovers at Drive East.
Do you have any organization or specific cause that you support through your performances?
NMC: We donate regularly to albums of other artists. We are also a socially conscious organization and try to provide a platform for people to express themselves through music when there is a need for it.
Where is Navatman performing next?
NMC: Drive East, a series of performances by Navatman will be held in New York from August 13 -19, 2018.
We are performing in San Francisco from August 20 -26, 2018.
Audiences include seasoned patrons, beginners and music lovers who are interested in learning more. This extraordinary festival promises a euphonious experience for your ears and a joyous journey for your senses.
Music lovers looking for something different and classy should undoubtedly listen to Navatman. Personally, I have been following them over the years and I have been spellbound by their performances. Their collective vibe and passion for music is evident on their YouTube videos which are catchy, strong and addictive. I wish them well in their musical journey.
To get a feel of their music listen to these links below:
Please visit their website www.navatman.org or Facebook page for news, dates and venues on their upcoming performances.
Surabhi Kaushik is an Indian-American writer, based in Charlotte North Carolina. Her work has been published in several portals such as www.yourstoryclub.com, www.writer’scafe.org, perfectionpending.net and www.herviewfromhome.com
She is part of various writing groups and is closely associated with “Write Like You Mean It,” a writer’s group at the Main library, Charlotte. She also leads a monthly Fiction Writing and conducts writing workshops at various libraries across Charlotte.