AACI and NBC Bay Area are hosting the Growing Up Asian in America (GUAA) art, essay, and video contest for students (kindergarten – 12th grade) in the nine Bay Area counties. GUAA provides a unique platform for young people to creatively explore and celebrate being both Asian or Pacific Islander and American. GUAA was started in 1995 by the Asian Pacific Fund and NBC Bay Area as one of the largest youth celebrations of Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month in the nation.
Every year, hundreds of Bay Area students – Kindergarten through 12th grade – submit artwork, essays, and videos in response to a specific theme. It encourages young Asian Americans to take pride in their identities whilst discussing dreams for their future, pride in their cultural heritage, challenges they may face, and other complex issues. Furthermore, it helps individuals (both Asian and non-Asian) understand the varied experiences of our youth growing up in the Bay Area’s diverse communities. The program is competitive, and one (1) winner will receive the $1,000 Lance Lew Grand Prize Award and nine (9) winners will receive the $500 “Best in Class” awards, with Honorable Mention awards as well. All winners will have their entries showcased at the virtual awards ceremony and on the AACI website and have a chance to be featured on NBC Bay Area.
2021 Contest Theme: This Is My Time
The year 2020 has left a mark on history. With the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has battled a difficult time of uncertainty, illness, loss, and inequity. However, we can reflect and implement change to ensure a brighter future. Share what your vision of the future is and what tools and lessons you think will help to propel us into a new era post-pandemic.
Submissions will be accepted until Friday, April 2, 2021.
About AACI: Founded in 1973, AACI is one of the largest community-based organizations advocating for and serving the marginalized and vulnerable ethnic communities in Santa Clara County. Our many programs address the health and well-being of the individual and advance our belief in providing care that goes beyond just health, but also provides people a sense of hope and new possibilities. Current programs include behavioral and primary health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, a center for survivors of torture, a shelter, and services for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, a senior center, youth programs, and community advocacy.
The County of Santa Clara officially reached a record high of one million registered voters for the upcoming November 3 Presidential Election. This number reflects 83% of the total 1,204,687 eligible voters in Santa Clara County. It is a significant increase compared to July 2016, when we had 799,477 out of 1,188,753 (or 67% of eligible voters) registered to vote.
“Reaching one million registered voters is a milestone moment in diverse Santa Clara County,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez, President of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “We can’t stop there. Now we must keep moving forward and do everything possible to make sure those million registered voters cast ballots to make their voices heard. Voting in Santa Clara County has never been easier with our 100 Vote Centers. Reach out to your families and neighbors to help them have their voices heard on November 3.”
Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey called reaching the million-voter mark “a major milestone for Santa Clara County.”
“We’ve seen the percentage of registered voters climb higher and higher and that’s exciting for us here at the Registrar’s Office – it means more and more Santa Clara County residents are becoming active participants in our democracy and we are excited to welcome our new voters,” Bushey said. “This is a major milestone for Santa Clara County reaching nearly 83 percent of eligible voters.”
The last day to register to vote is October 19. Voters can register online at registertovote.ca.gov. Voters should re-register whenever they change their name or address. Any voter can also call (408) 299-VOTE to check on the status of their voter registration or go to voterstatus.sos.ca.gov if they have a driver’s license or social security number already on file.
All registered voters are mailed ballots with a free postage paid return envelope and will have an option to mail it in, return it at one of our 98 ballot drop-off boxes, one of the 100 vote centers throughout the county, or at the Registrar of Voters’ office.
Early in-person voting started this week at the Registrar of Voters’ Office located at 1555 Berger Drive, Bldg. 2, in San Jose. Vote Centers will be open October 31 – November 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find the Vote Center and drop box locationsthat are nearest you.
Vote Centers will open on October 31. ROV and Vote Center staff will take extra steps to ensure that safety measures are followed at all locations. Vote Center layouts have been re-designed to allow for distancing between voting booths and machines. We have maximized one-way routes inside Vote Centers to allow for a seamless voting experience that adheres to social distancing protocols.
Health guideline posters will be placed inside and outside of the Vote Centers. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as disposable masks, gloves, and self-serve hand sanitizer will be provided for all voters. Vote Center workers will also be issued PPE, including face shields, disposable masks, disposable gloves, and disinfectant spray. Voters will use a stylus to operate the electronic voter sign in pollbook and touch screen voting machine, which will be sanitized after each use. Voter service areas and voting equipment will also be wiped down between voters. Finally, curbside voting will be available for voters who cannot leave their vehicle or comply with safety procedures.
With one million registered voters in Santa Clara County, it is becoming increasingly important to make sure everyone can vote safely. We encourage voters to vote from home.
PALO ALTO – Green Foothills’ annualNature’s Inspiration celebration Sunday, September 27 from 5-6:30pm will honor Valentin Lopez, the highly respected Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band since 2003. Chairman Lopez is being recognized for his tireless work bringing international awareness to the experience of Indigenous Peoples and his dedication to fighting for sacred lands.
“I am excited to be performing during Green Foothills’ Nature’s Inspiration in celebration of environmental land conservation and Indigineous rights.” Raul Pacheco, founding member of Ozomatli.
“Green Foothills has been a valued partner for the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in our fight to protect Juristac from a sand and gravel mine,” explains Chairman Lopez. “Juristac is the Tribe’s most sacred site and serves as a major wildlife corridor in Santa Clara County. This is a natural partnership and we are stronger together. I’m honored to accept this award”
In addition to a live acoustic performance by Grammy award winning Ozomatli’s Raul Pacheco, this virtual event will also feature Indigenous vocalist Calina Lawrence and a special pre-recorded performance by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Neil Young who was moved by the fight for Juristac and the work of Chairman Lopez. Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe will open the event with a Land Acknowledgement.
“This is a celebration of the people in our community who are fighting for a livable planet. Join us for a few moving performances as we stand in solidarity with local Native American community members. Tickets and sponsorships support the work of Green Foothills and the Amah Mutsun and include a local pie, what’s not to love about that?” said Megan Fluke, Green Foothills Executive Director.
Founded in 1962, Green Foothills has worked collaboratively in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to help protect over 183,000 acres from development, weighing in on over 900 land use issues and 60 ballot measures. According to Executive Director, Megan Fluke, “We envision a resilient region where wildlife thrive, everyone has natural beauty to enjoy, and communities live in balance with nature.” For more information, visitwww.greenfoothills.org
WHAT: Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (the Authority) has produced, Investing in Nature, a Five-Year Impact Report to the Community highlighting the investments and accomplishments funded by Measure Q. In the November 2014 voters overwhelmingly approved Measure Q, a parcel-tax generating approximately $7.9 million per year, allocating funds to protect Santa Clara Valley’s open spaces and lands. In 5 years the Authority has doubled the number of acres protected as open space in the Authority’s jurisdiction to almost 30,000 acres – including a once-in-a-generation acquisition of almost 1,000 acres long-threatened open space in the North Coyote Valley.
The report release will be followed by a Virtual Conversation that will take a deep dive into how the accomplishments achieved through the public’s support of Measure Q have been effective to safeguard and enhance the benefits of nature. The effects of climate change are being felt in communities across the region through droughts, fires, and floods, and these investments in farmland, habitat for wildlife plants and animals, and in urban communities help reduce these impacts, especially for our most vulnerable community members.
WHO: The discussion will be moderated by Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager featuring panelists:
The Honorable Sergio Jimenez, City of San Jose – District 2 Councilmember
Kathy Sutherland, Chairperson, Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
The Honorable Dorsey Moore, Board Member – District 4, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
WHY: Green spaces and parks have been linked to a multitude of positive outcomes including better health, less stress, and stronger communities.Measure Q has been an invaluable source of funding to protect natural areas and provide access to local trails, preserving open space for current and future generations, so that Santa Clara Valley residents can experience nature in their backyard.
As local and regional governments invest in man-made infrastructures such as roads, bridges, highways, schools, and fire stations, it is equally important to invest in our natural environment. Measure Q resources are more than simply preserving land from development. The ecological, economic, and health benefits offered from open spaces are abundant. It’s about quality of life, reducing the severity of drought, floods, and wildfires and creating opportunities to capture and reuse water, carbon sequestration, heat reduction, tourism, wildlife habitat protection, and for recreational use.
Human health and wellbeing depend on the health of our planet and that is why the Authority is not slowing down – we can’t let up on our mission. Now more than ever the public has registered its support and need for connection with nature and being in open space and we want to make sure we are there for you in the future.
Report Release: Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Virtual Conversation: Wednesday, May 27, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority conserves the natural environment, supports agriculture, and connects people to nature, by protecting open spaces, natural areas, and working farms and ranches for future generations. The Authority envisions the Santa Clara Valley and its surrounding hillsides as a beautiful place where a vibrant network of interconnected open spaces, trails, wildlife habitats, and thriving agricultural lands enrich the region’s cities and make it an exceptional and healthy place to live, work, learn, and play.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Full-service early voting locations will begin opening this weekend throughout Santa Clara County, giving voters 10 days to cast a ballot in person before the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election. That’s a total of 11 days — including two weekends – to provide voters greater convenience and flexibility in how and where they cast a ballot.
Under the new Voter’s Choice Act being implemented for the first time in Santa Clara County this year, voters from anywhere in the County can visit any one of approximately 110 Vote Center locations, as well as the Registrar of Voters’ Office to cast a ballot, drop off a Vote by Mail ballot, receive a replacement ballot, register to vote, get language or accessibility assistance, or receive any of the services usually available at the Registrars’ Office.
“We understand that many voters prefer to cast a ballot in person, and are committed to providing that option,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey. “Now, voters residing anywhere in Santa Clara County may vote near where they live or near where they work, and at a time and place to match their busy schedule.”
Early voting in Santa Clara County began February 3 at the Registrar of Voters’ Office. Beginning on the same date, the Registrars’ Office mailed every registered voter in the County a Vote by Mail ballot with a postage-paid return envelope.
Approximately 22 of the new Vote Centers will open on Saturday, February 22, 10 days in advance of Election Day. The remaining 88 Vote Centers will open on Saturday, February 29, three days in advance of Election Day. All voting locations will be open on Election Day, for a total of approximately 110 locations.
In addition to the staffed Vote Centers, nearly 100 drop boxes are available — many open 24 hours — for voters to return completed Vote by Mail ballots.
Board of Supervisors: Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian County Executive: Jeffrey V. Smith
Vote Center and ballot drop box locations, including dates and hours of operation, are available online at www.sccvote.org under the Vote in Person, Vote Center and Official Ballot Drop Box Sites Information tab. For a searchable database of Vote Centers, Ballot Drop off locations, to track your ballot and more information go to our e-services site.
Members of the media who would like to cover the Early Voting Centers opening this weekend should call the ROV Media Line at (408) 282-3008 or email email@example.com to facilitate interviews.
For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683), or visit www.sccvote.org.
HISTORIC CHANGE: VOTER’S CHOICE VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS ON THEIR WAY TO ALL VOTERS FOR MARCH 3, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY ELECTION Over 940,000 Ballots Mailed to County Voters
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – A Vote by Mail ballot was mailed out to every active registered voter in the County today as part of the new voting model aimed at encouraging election participation by making casting a ballot easier than ever before.
There are over 940,000 active registered voters in the County and for the first time in the history of Santa Clara County elections, all will be mailed a Vote by Mail packet. That includes an official ballot which may be filled out and placed in the accompanying postage-paid envelope, which is signed by the voter for verification and returned to the Registrars’ Office.
Voters are encouraged to check their primary election ballot when they receive it. Nearly 300,000 Santa Clara County voters are registered as No Party Preference (NPP), and their primary election ballots will not include candidates for President. NPP voters who wish to cast a ballot in the presidential primary can still choose and cast a crossover ballot for American Independent, Democratic or Libertarian parties. All requests for new ballots to be mailed must be received no later than February 25. The Green, Peace & Freedom, and Republican parties opted to not allow crossover voting. If voters choose to cast a ballot for the Green, Peace & Freedom or Republican party they must re-register with that party. Voters can re-register online at RegistertoVote.ca.gov.
The new Voter’s Choice Act election model was adopted by the Board of Supervisors last year with a goal of making it more convenient for Santa Clara County voters to cast a ballot. In addition to giving every voter the opportunity to return a ballot by mail, there are improved options for voting in person as well, with Vote Centers opening throughout the County up to 10 days before Election Day beginning on Saturday, February 22. Any Santa Clara County voter may go to any of the 110 Vote Center locations to vote in person. Early in-person voting begins today at the Registrars’ Office located at 1555 Berger Drive, Building 2, in San Jose.
Board of Supervisors: Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian County Executive: Jeffrey V. Smith
“This truly is the future of elections,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey. “We have seen Vote by Mail rates skyrocket to the point where nearly 80 percent of voters – four out of five – chose this option in 2018. That figure was expected to continue to rise even if we did not adopt the Voter’s Choice model. It really just makes sense to send everyone a Vote by Mail ballot.”
More than 7,000 Vote by Mail packets, also with postage-paid return envelopes, were previously mailed to military and overseas voters to ensure that they have enough time to return their ballots by the deadline. In order to be counted for the March 3 Presidential Primary Election, Vote by Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and must be received at the Registrars’ Office by Friday, March 6.
About 22 of Santa Clara County’s new Vote Centers will open on Saturday, February 22, 2020 in locations throughout the County – a full 10 days before Election Day for any voter who wishes to vote a live ballot. More will open in the final four days through Election Day, with a total of more than 110 locations. All Vote Centers can be used by any Santa Clara County voter – voters are no longer tied to a single polling place. Anyone can also get a replacement ballot at any of the Vote Centers and utilize additional services such as registration, language or accessibility assistance. Vote by Mail ballots can also be returned to any Vote Center or to any of the nearly 100 drop boxes countywide, many of which are available 24 hours a day. The list of all Vote Center and official drop box locations is posted on our website at eservices.sccgov.org.
The last day to register to vote in the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election is February 18, in order for a ballot to be mailed to you by the deadline of February 25, and can be done online at Register to Vote. Voters wishing to check their registration may do so on the website at Check Your Registration Status. Conditional voter registration begins of February 19 through Election day for those voters that have moved into the county, need to update their address, or their party affiliation.
Voters should complete a new registration form if they have moved, changed their name, or would like to change their political party preference. To register to vote in Santa Clara County, a voter must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, a Santa Clara County resident, and not imprisoned or on parole for a felony.
For more information, including locations and hours of all Vote Centers, drop boxes and information about needed services, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683), or visit www.sccvote.org. # # #
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Voters who believe they mistakenly received a notice in the mail from the Registrar of Voters indicating their options for voting in the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election as a “No Party Preference” voter may need to re-register in their party of choice.
The Registrar of Voters’ Office began receiving numerous calls and emails in response to a postcard sent to voters registered as “No Party Preference,” or NPP. Some voters who received the postcard questioned whether it was authentic or sent in error because they did not recall registering as NPP.
After reviewing the issue, the Registrar of Voters is confident that the postcard was sent to the correct voters but believes that some voters may have unknowingly had their party registration changed to No Party Preference as a result of automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Registrar of Voters does not know how many voters may have had their party preference changed in this manner, but since the postcard was mailed, the office estimates it has been contacted by approximately 300 voters who may have been impacted.
Voters who believe that they may be impacted are encouraged to re-register to vote to make sure that their records are updated before the March primary. “We want to assure our voters that the notice was genuine,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey. “If they received this postcard, they need to take action to request a crossover ballot or re-register with their preferred party.”
After the 2018 statewide rollout of automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles, some voters may have inadvertently had their party registration changed. This issue occurred if voters skipped the party preference question, which caused their party to default to No Party Preference, even if they had previously been registered with a qualified political party. As well, shortly following the launch of the live connection into the statewide voter registration database, the DMV discovered that they had data conversion issues with the transfer of information. Such registration updates can occur while completing or updating a driver’s license, ID card, or change of address transaction by mail or at the DMV.
Board of Supervisors: Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian County Executive: Jeffrey V. Smith
Voters wishing to check their registration status may do so online under the “Register to Vote” tab at www.sccvote.org. Re-registration may be completed online at registertovote.ca.gov. Regular registration for the March primary ends February 18, 2020. After that, voters may register or re- register at the Registrar of Voters’ Office or any Vote Center and cast a Conditional Voter Registration Provisional Ballot; however, the process is streamlined if registration occurs before the February 18 deadline.
Nearly 300,000 Santa Clara County voters are registered as No Party Preference, and their primary election ballots do not include candidates for President. The postcards mailed last week, which are required by the California Elections Code, outlined what steps are needed to cast a crossover vote in the presidential contest for American Independent, Democratic, and Libertarian parties. The Green, Peace & Freedom, and Republican parties opted to not allow crossover voting. NPP voters who wish to cast a ballot in the presidential primary for any of those parties must re-register with that party.
Early voting at the Registrar of Voters’ Office will begin on February 3; Vote Centers will open beginning February 22. These new Vote Centers are a central part of the new Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) being introduced to Santa Clara County voters in 2020. Under VCA, every voter receives a Vote by Mail ballot along with more days and more ways to cast their ballot at the Vote Centers.
Completing the postcard or voting a crossover ballot does not change a voter’s registered party affiliation. Voters who complete this postcard will continue to be registered as No Party Preference and will have an opportunity to request a crossover ballot in each future presidential primary election. All requests for new ballots to be mailed must be received not later than February 25, 2020.
For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683), or visit sccvote.org. Voters may also visit the California Secretary of State’s website for further information on NPP voting here.
“NO PARTY PREFERENCE” VOTING FOR A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE While all voters can vote in the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election, voting for a presidential candidate is dependent on political party registration status.
If you are registered with a political party:
You can vote for a candidate running for president in that party.
These parties ALLOW a “No Party Preference” voter to cast a crossover vote in the Presidential Primary Election:
These parties do NOT ALLOW a “No Party Preference” voter to cast a crossover vote in the Presidential Primary Election:
“No Party Preference” voter to cast a crossover vote in the Presidential Primary Election:
Peace & Freedom
You were sent a postcard to select a party ballot. By filling out the postcard, you will receive your party preference ballot by mail for this election only and your registered party will not change. You can also select the party ballot at the Registrar of Voters’ Office or at any Vote Center in Santa Clara County.
If you want to participate in the Presidential Primary Election for these parties you must re-register in that party. Registration deadline is February 18, 2020. After that date, voters can still re-register but they will cast a Conditional Ballot that needs to be reviewed before it is counted.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY –- Sometimes fear disappears when you bravely take it for a walk.
That is what an Indian family discovered as team participants of Santa Clara County Parks online social media game, Parks For Life Challenge.
County parks and the Santa Clara County Animal Shelter joined forces to help promote the shelter’s newest program, Foster Field Trip and Shelter Dog Sleep Over. Participants of the Parks For Life Challenge earned game points for taking a sheltered dog for a walk in a county park.
While the program was designed to benefit sheltered dogs by providing an opportunity to explore the outside world and to evaluate the dog’s ability to socialize, the program unexpectedly created a life-changing experience for the Kanagala family.
Their walk in the park, they said, altered the family’s behavior toward dogs and dispelled an ingrained cultural belief. Ajay, the father, noted that in India the dog culture is much different than in the United States. Typically, dogs are not considered pets in India, but more of an animal that people are terrified of. “Unlike Americans, we see dogs as scary animals. My wife and oldest daughter are terrified of dogs and stayed away from them as much as possible because that’s how they were raised.”
Enter Winston, a 10-year old Pit Bull Terrier considered to be a long-term stay dog at Santa Clara County Animal Shelter. The first time the family took Winston out of the shelter they asked for a crate for him to ride in while in the car.
While walking him, only Ajay would hold the leash, and his two daughters would stay behind. Toward the end of the walk, Anika, the younger daughter, began to get closer and pet Winston. On the second outing Ajay asked for a crate, yet didn’t make Winston ride in it. While hiking Ajay noticed Anika interacting more with Winston, courageously asking to hold the leash.
Anya, the older daughter, and Ajay’s wife, Chalana, began to realize there was nothing to fear and became comfortable around Winston. On the third outing, Ajay said he skipped the crate and let Winston share the backseat of the car with the kids. Another breakthrough occurred while the Anika was walking Winston: Chalana and Anya started to pet Winston. In no time at all the gentle pats on the back became warm friendly hugs.
“If it was not for the Parks For Life Challenge, my family would still see dogs as terrifying animals the same way they did back in India,” said Ajay. The family is now strongly considering adopting a sheltered dog.
CHAI for 6, a music group with members based in four states across two continents will perform on June 17 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The group traces its origins to the Berklee Indian Exchange founded in 2013 to celebrate and share Indian music and culture with the Berklee student body. Assistant manager Rohith Jayaraman says, “Just because we play Indian music doesn’t mean we all have to be of Indian origin. We have had students and collaborators from 42 countries (and counting!) work with us over the years. Just this past semester, we had students from Australia, Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Spain, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, China, Israel, Singapore, Bahrain, the United States and more! The stamp on your passport does not matter.”
A significant item on the Exchange’s agenda is to ensure that there is a cultural connection with India, through the Berklee Indian ensemble. Thus, the group has worked with the likes of A.R. Rahman and Clinton Cerejo, both stars in Bollywood music, working on originals and rearrangements with these masters.
It is at Berklee that Jayaraman, who’s also the voice of CHAI, met up with Layth Sidiq, (violin) incidentally the only musician of non-Indian origin in the group, along with Shubh Saran (guitar), and Sashank Navaladi (sarod). These four musicians first performed a piece called “Shuruaat,” written by Navaladi, which they intend to play in the upcoming show as well. M.T. Aditya Srinivasan (tabla) and Vignesh Venkataraman (mridangam) found their way to Boston briefly and “something just clicked.”
Music, literally, is what brings the group together: Sidiq and Jayaraman live in Boston, Saran lives in New York, Venkataraman in the Bay Area, Navaladi in Los Angeles, and Srinivasan in Chennai.
The Berklee spirit of exchange seems to drive the sound for CHAI as well, as Jayaraman puts it, “I think it’s less of a conscious effort and more of just happy experimentation. We get together and throw ideas around. What comes out is what comes out. If we think too much about it, we would never get there. The key is finding the similarities and using them to highlight the differences.”
One can argue that given the backgrounds of these artists, there is no other way to make music: Navaladi is a film/tv composer as well as a sarod player, Sidiq is a classically trained Arabic violinist, Srinivasan is a tabla player but also a percussionist who has studied in Spain, Saran is a contemporary American/jazz/Indo-world guitarist, and Venkataraman is a Carnatic mridangist extraordinaire. Jayaraman is a Carnatic trained vocalist who claims that he cannot claim an exclusive musical foot in any one world, even though he has had rigorous training from his mother Asha Ramesh, who is an Indian-music brand in the Bay Area.
While the six joke around and are prone to watching funny Youtube videos (even during rehearsals!), they have serious musical chops, as the videos on the Ensemble’s site will prove. Sidiq picked up the violin when he was four and now is a sought-after composer and directs the Arab music ensemble at Tufts University. When asked if the Indian quotient gets overwhelming when they get together, he said, “The more Indians I have around me the more I know I’ll be surrounded by good food, beautiful music, and a profound culture!”
Saran is an official Reunion blues artist and has played alongside several international artists. He confesses that he is somewhere in between a Blues man and a Rock guitarist. He has his own album, Hmayra under his belt and has set his eyes on Bollywood next. Navaladi has been the ensemble’s star composer and released Zikr, a musical, inspired by and based on a Mirza Ghalib poem of the same name. He says, “I started with one tune for the first couplet and kept revising it for days until I finally started feeling a solid melody that worked well with the rhythm of the first two couplets. Zikr taught me how the subtle rhythms embedded within each sentence influence composition and texture.” Srinivasan’s band was the winner in an all-India band hunt organized by A.R. Rahman and in a TEDx session, he talked about how there is a rhythm in everything, “The Rhythm of Intent.”
Jayaraman has a degree in music therapy and co-directs the ensemble. Being introduced to Shakti, (the epic multi-cultural group/album starring Zakir Hussain and Vikku Vinayakram, among others) was a high point in his life. Venkataraman is “Boston Strong” and talks about the city, basketball, and music with equal passion. He would be unable to pick between a game and concert, saying, “If it was an NBA finals game, it would probably be basketball. If not, I might choose the concert!” He is a columnist for the Stanford Daily.
Chai for 6 promises a new sound, maybe even a Shakti-esque sound, given Sidiq’s international flavor, Saran’s jazz tones, and Indian classical from the others. After individual pursuits and success, these musicians are attempting to discover perhaps, live, a sound that they can own. We shall have to see!
CHAI for 6: A fund-raiser for Vibha, June 17th, 8 p.m., Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Way, Santa Clara.