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It’s Grammys-time again and as has been for a few years now, there are a few desi names on the nominee list:

Best Dance Recording,
Dance/ Electronic Music Field
“Don’t Let Me Down”—The Chainsmokers featuring Daya

It would be hard to miss or not notice the edgy “Don’t Let Me Down, down, down” song when you turn on your local hit-music radio station. Well you’re in for a surprise: that edgy voice belongs to Grace Tandon, who goes by her middle name Daya. Daya means “mercy” in Hindi, and she probably got the name, in part, because her grandfather is of Indian origin.

Daya’s start in music was unintentional; her first piano lessons were at age three, and she started only because her older sister Rachel insisted on taking her along to her lessons. Her involvement in music was constant, and she has just graduated from high school last year. In a recent interview she shared that she got on a plane the day after her prom to record her first extended play. Her hit track “Hide Away” was a part of that extended play. One version of how she got together with The Chainsmokers is that they had reached out to her after they heard, “Hide Away.”

Daya believes it’s important to write her own songs because then the music is truly, “authentic.” One of the videos starts with a few DADDs, Dads Against Daughters Dating, with Daya belting out,

“Boys seem to like girls who laugh at anything,
The ones who get undressed before the second date,
Girls seem to like the boys who don’t appreciate,
All the money and the time that it takes, To be fly as a mother.”
Daya is multi-talented; she also plays the guitar, saxophone, ukulele, and flute.

Best World Music Album/World Music Field
Land of GoldAnoushka Shankar

“Sing your song with ease and pride,
I’ll be there not far behind,
Find the kind heart, rest your feet and soul,
May your kind heart find the land of gold.”

Beginning with compelling sitar playing to stark words sung by Alev Lenz, Land of Gold gives voice and stirring sound to the international refugee crisis. Speaking of its making, Anoushka said in an interview, “My experience was that of a human being viewing the world. I think becoming a parent has made me feel impacted by what’s going on in the world around me. It makes one so much more vulnerable to things—having children. And so it just feels like I can’t hide from what I imagine other parents must be going through. That was kind of the central impetus for making this album.” Alev Lenz is a London-based German artist born to a Turkish mother.

Sing Me Home—Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble
Their website says, “Silk Road has been guided by two principles: that we cannot afford not to know our neighbors, and that music can help us connect.” World renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was inspired to found this ensemble by the historic Silk Road that connected Asia with Europe through trade routes
Affiliated with Harvard University since 2005, The Silk Road Project is made up of artists from more than 20 countries (including Grammy-nominated Sandeep Das from the Benaras gharana) and the group has produced six albums. Sing Me Home is a collection that explores “the ever-changing idea of home,” and includes pieces by Ustad Shujaat Khan on the sitar and singer Sarah Jarosz. Incidentally, Jarosz’s album Undercurrent is a Grammy-nominee in another category.

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (Production, Non-Classical Field)
Undercurrent—Shani Gandhi & Gary Paczosa, engineers; Paul Blakemore, mastering engineer (Sarah Jarosz)
Gandhi is a rare breed among music engineers, there aren’t too many women mixing sound. A music engineer is tasked with making sure the sound of the music—instruments, vocals, effects sound the best that it can. Gandhi has been described as superlative at her work by both Paczosa and Jarosz, among other artists. n

The Grammys award ceremony will be televised by CBS on February 12, 2017 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Priya Das is an enthusiastic follower of world music, and avidly tracks inbtersecting points between folk, classical, jazz and other genres.