Tag Archives: #indianmusic

Manika Kaur is the Culture Bearer of Kirtan Music

Manika Kaur is a singer, songwriter, and philanthropist, currently taking the world by storm as the leading contemporary performer of ‘Kirtan’ music. Kirtan is a Sanskrit word that means to narrate or recite. This genre of music involves a call and response style song, where singers usually sing about spiritual ideas, devotion to a deity, or a Legend’s story. This genre of music is set to uplift us spiritually and open our hearts and minds through its chanting and devotional language. Kirtan music has been accommodated into various guidances like meditation and yoga, to enhance such practices and combine them with the spiritual energy of the music.

Over the years, Manika Kaur has broken barriers of the music world and transcended language and genre, touching the hearts of many within and outside of the global Sikh community and bringing Kirtan music out to a global platform. Kaur is the first artist to place Kirtan music on the European World Music Charts and her music videos rack up millions of views. 

Manika Kaur's album cover for 'Ek'.
Manika Kaur’s album cover for ‘Ek’.

In her latest creation ‘Ek’ Manika Kaur sets out to expand her audience by further highlighting her unique sound and her charitable works. The album Ek (Oneness) brings out some of the rarest instruments in the world and bridges the barrier between eastern and western instruments. In her music, Kaur introduces traditional elements of Kirtan music combined with some of London’s best producers, to create a balance and unite audiences through her sound. As one of the only female artists of Kirtan music, Kaur continues to capture diverse audiences, and create something magical, expanding the world of Kirtan music. Ek features 11 tracks, each adding a rare musical instrument. As all her works do, Kaur brings beautiful energy through her hypnotizing vocals, highlighting the strength of her spirituality through her music. 

Tracks like ‘Hay Gobind Hay Dayal’, ‘Liberate Me’ and ‘Sant Paee’ offer a beautifully rhythmic sound filled with musical hope and positivity in devotion and faith. ‘Magic Mantra’, ‘Waheguru Nanak Guru’ and ‘Sri Harkrishan’ on the other hand offer a look into the depth of spirituality and the core of its strength in emotion. These tracks musically create a sense of yearning and strength, offering Kaur’s unwavering faith in her spirituality. Tracks like ‘Your Light Ignites’, ‘Liberate Me’ and ‘Ocean Of Virtue’ are a lot softer in their musicality, holding out a hand in comfort and giving a sense of belonging and home in them. Kaur explores each emotion with the same sincerity and honesty, bringing out her versatility and brilliance as an artist and person. Kaur ends the album with ‘Deh Shiva’, a track that brings together the expression of each track and gives more. Ek truly transcends every humanly made barrier for the sole purpose of bringing people together through music as even the title of the album suggests. Manika Kaur has again broken expectations and set her own path to Kirtan music capturing the world. 

All proceeds of Manika’s art are dedicated to her own organization Kirtan For Causes dedicated to providing good education to over 200 women in rural Punjab, India. Manika offers in her music, not only the strength of faith but also a strength for a better present and future to a lot of people. Her music is colored by her mesmerizing vocals, and her constant admiration and respect for the art of ‘Kirtan’ music. 

Listen to her album, ‘Ek’!


Swati Ramaswamy is a recent graduate from UC Davis and an aspiring creative writer.  


 

Azaan Sami Khan’s Debut Album is Adnan Sami’s Musical Legacy

Composer Azaan Sami Khan recently released his debut solo album Main Tera. Son of popular singer, musician, music composer, and pianist Adnan Sami, Azaan is known for giving the Pakistani entertainment industry hit after hit in critically and commercially acclaimed films such as Parey Hut Love, Superstar, and Parwaaz Hai Junoon

The album will be released under the banner of HUM Music, an initiative established by HUM Network Limited to support and highlight the incredible music and diverse roster of creative musicians that Pakistan has to offer. Its nine-song tracklist also includes a collaboration with the legendary maestro Ustaad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

In this exclusive interview, he talks about the idea behind the album, his relationship with his father, and his recent anthem of hope “Tu Hai Mera”.

You are Adnan Sami’s son. Tell us about your earliest musical influences, and the relationship you share with your father. 

If anything, I am a huge fan of my father’s work, I am probably his biggest fan. I listen to every single thing he’s ever made and study it thoroughly because after all, he is my musical legacy. It’s my responsibility to understand what all he has done in his musical career and hope to live up to that standard. That in itself is very important to me, and I am very proud to be his son. 

Tell us about the experience of collaborating with the legendary Ustaad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

It was incredible, to say the least. I feel truly honored to have worked with him and to have learned so much from him in the process. He added his own magical touch to the song, and it is something I feel his fans would surely enjoy as well.

Your recent track “Tu Hai Mera” is a kind of anthem of hope that was sung by some of the most sought-after names in the industry. Tell us more about the song, the idea behind it, and its process of collaboration. 

It will always remain one of the most important songs of my life. As I finished the song in the studio, I felt proud and happy that I had the honor of working with the artists that I did. It’s a song that really went beyond my expectations, and will always hold that special place in my heart. 

I got to work with Sufi legends, Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad, and Hadiqa Kiani, who will always hold a very special place in my heart because she sang for my father many years ago. I also worked with Ali Tariq, who’s a fantastic singer and a great friend. And Hadiya Hashmi, who is absolutely mindblowing. 

Tell our readers about our debut solo album Main Tera.

The album is basically a musical amalgamation of my personal experiences. It defines who I am and who I’ve been up to this point. Whoever listens to it would probably get to know me better than they would when they hear me speak or any other way. It gets very dark in some places and is super happy in some, so there are reflective points in every song. Fortunately, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some tremendous music producers and artists from around the world, who have all put their hearts and soul into bringing this album to fruition.

Main Tera is about the innocence in the first steps of falling in love. The album is a rollercoaster ride of romance. It’s love and romance in their different forms, and you’ll get to see different shades of love being explored. No matter what the language of the songs is, it’s still catering to the feeling.

What is the idea and inspiration behind it?

Everything in this album is a personal experience. Each song has its own personal story. I was motivated by feelings that took over the key moments of my life, which I also feel the audience might resonate with. The main idea was to be vulnerable in this album and to put out a side of me that the audience hasn’t seen before.


Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer and editor based in New Delhi. She is the author of Wanderlust for the Soul and Bombay Memory Box.

Revolutionary Carnatic Musician: The Saint Thyagaraja

Indian history is full of exceptional devotees who proved the significance of love and spirituality. One such divine and gifted soul was the great “Saint Thyagaraja”. He descended on the land of Tiruvarur, Tamil Nadu in India on May 14, 1767. He was born in a Telugu Vaidiki Mulakanadu Brahmin family.

Saint Thyagaraja revolutionized the dormant Carnatic Music during the 18th and 19th centuries. This form of Music is based on unique “Ragas and Talas” (musical notes) like all other forms of Indian classical music. It beautifully expresses Bhakti (devotion) and Sringara (love). Earlier, it was performed for the praise of God. Later, it included singing the glory of great kingdoms.

Thyagaraja was inclined towards music from an early age. Ramayana and Lord Ram also influenced the musical legend. He sang many kritis (a devotional form of composition in Carnatic music) of Lord Ram. He predominantly created the kritis in the Telugu language. Still, Saint Thyagaraja is a global icon. Two of his contemporaries also gained equal fame along with him in that era. They were Shyama Shastri and Muthuswami Dikshitar. Together, these three were known as the Trinity of Carnatic Music.

Carnatic Music has survived the ever-changing modernization of the music. Its several concerts are being held not only in India but all over the world. Compositions of Saint Thyagaraja are part of almost every show. Isn’t it phenomenal that they are popular and relevant even after 250 years of their creation!

Body of Work

Saint Thyagaraja created over 22,000 compositions during his lifetime. Out of them, only around 729 survived. They lived through the generations of his disciples. One of the most celebrated creations is “Pancharatna Kriti”. It is a combination of five Kritis of Lord Ram. Each one in a different Raga depicting different moods. One of them is in the Sanskrit language. The rest of them are in Telugu.

The great Saint Thyagaraja was not inclined towards the technicalities of classical music. His devotional music flowed like a free waterfall soothing the heart of his listeners. His fans ranged from common Men to the Kings of that era.

Like a Lotus Leaf!

He was detached from worldly pleasures. He was a perfect example of the lotus leaf provided in “Bhagvat Geeta” (a prominent Hindu scripture). A lotus leaf is untouched by water even while floating in it. All the drops of water fall off from its surface, and it remains clean. Saint Thyagaraja experienced everyday family life. He had a home where he lived with his wife and daughter but he always longed for the spiritual connection with Lord Ram. He regarded him as his friend and guide in his compositions. The musical legend never ran after wealth and fame. He used to make his living by “Daan” (Alms) given by villagers and his admirers. He denied an invitation from the King to live a lavish lifestyle. He believed he was born to serve God only.

Spiritual Height!

There are many stories of him witnessing miracles where he reached out to Lord Ram. Eventually, he gave the most significant proof that he was close to God. It is said that his day of demise, January 6, 1847, was announced by himself beforehand. He declared that Lord Ram has appeared in his dreams and promised to take him to salvation. He remained a mystic both in life and death.

Thyagaraja Aradhana – Homage to the Legend

His legacy continues even today through the Thyagaraja Aradhana music festival. It’s an annual event held between January to February on his death anniversary. It’s a week-long musical extravaganza organized at his resting place at Thiruvaiyaru. It has flourished to become an international marvel. Carnatic musicians gather from all over the world to celebrate the heritage of his compositions. It’s a mesmerizing sight when thousands of people together sing “Pancharatna Kriti” in his honor.


Reema Krishnan is a content creator at Acharyanet, a platform for Carnatic music learners where they can learn music from gurus through 400+ video lessons. Being a music enthusiast and a history buff herself, she is able to provide value for her readers and her content is well-received by musicians, music lovers, and music learners of all ages and at all stages.