A song for india

Despite a huge reservoir of musical talent,international honours in the field haven’t exactly been our forte.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published:January 19, 2009 11:19 pm

After Rahman’s win at the Golden Globe,fingers are crossed for the Indian sounds in line for the Grammy

Despite a huge reservoir of musical talent,international honours in the field haven’t exactly been our forte. Until the Golden Globe met AR Rahman last Sunday. Now,the focus is on the Grammy Awards — the biggest music awards in the world — which take place in February and where India has scored four nominations.

Apart from Debashish Bhattacharya’s Calcutta Chronicle and Lakshmi Shankar’s Dancing in the Light in the Best Traditional Music Album category,those in line for the gilded gramophone include the Bob Belden-produced Miles From India and John McLaughlin’s (picture) Floating Point under Blue Frog Records India,both in the Contemporary Jazz album category. “With Rahman’s win,all eyes will be on us,” says Louis Banks,co-producer,Miles from India. The Grammys are not alien to us though few Indian musicians have managed to secure the trophy in its 50-year history. Percussionist Bickram Ghosh,a four-time nominee,says,“An Indian album has the maximum chance of winning a Grammy when it’s recorded abroad. Even when Pandit Ravi Shankar and I won the award in 2002 for Full Circle,it was under the Angel Music label.”

He adds that though India has an age-old musical legacy,it’s only collaborative albums that work. The Grammy is given for albums released in America between October 1 and September 30 every year and,at most times,is directly proportional to the popularity of the artist in the US,feels Banks. “If it isn’t popular in the West,an album won’t get nominated. If not in the World Music category,there’s no other section where we stand in the Grammys,” says the jazz artist,adding,“Bob Belden is a seven-time Grammy nominee and three-time winner who knows the tricks of the trade.”

Belden,on his part,adds,“Louis Banks will one day win a Grammy for his solo recording. Indian musicians are not members of the Academy and thus do not benefit from the professional partnerships that arise from such an association. It would be good to get some Indian recording companies to join the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.” For Dhruv Ganekar,composer and partner at Blue Frog,the Mumbai live music bar,which owns Blue Frog Records India,it’s the association of Indian artists like Ranjit,Shiva and Louis Banks that has got him the honour. “We don’t make music for the international market. Having four nominees this year shows that we are no longer piggybacking on Bollywood.” Emmanuelle de Decker,head of Blue Frog Records,that produced McLaughlin’s album,is expecting “worldwide recognition of the emerging jazz scene in India. Plus,Indians are expecting more than just Bollywood”.

Musical talent is not even categorised at our own National Awards in India. But Ghosh says Rahman’s Globe may prove to be the turning point. “After all,Satyajit Ray first won the Oscar and then the Bharat Ratna.”

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