New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Ricky Kej, an ardent environmentalist and India’s youngest Grammy winner, says while Indian music has always been recognised internationally, what concerns him is how, with the dominance of film music, composers and singers are now rarely making music from the heart.
“Indian music has always been recognised internationally. Thanks to greats like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Alla Rakha and others who took Indian music to a… level of international recognition.
“Some of the greatest music in history has stemmed out of these spectacular collaborations. I thank these legends for making the way for musicians like me to showcase to the rest of the world. I am also very grateful for all the collaborations I am able to have with hundreds of musicians from different parts of the world,” Kej told IANS in an e-mail.
“What actually concerns me is the music scene in India. With the dominance of film music in India, composers and singers are very rarely making music from the heart that is based on their own philosophies and beliefs.
“A majority of the music that is being created is commissioned to them and not made from the heart. Musicians are not making music pro-actively, they are told what kind of music to make by a director or a producer. Whereas I believe in creating music that defines me as a person, and what I want to communicate to the rest of the world through my art,” added the singer-musician, whose album “Winds Of Samsara” won the Best New Age Album trophy at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in 2015.
Kej, whose repertoire of work consists of 15 studio albums released internationally, over 3,500 commercials and three feature films, has dedicated his life and music to creating environmental consciousness. He has performed all over the world, including thrice at the UN General Assembly.
He recently performed at the prestigious Palais Des Nations, UN headquarters in Geneva, on October 31, for the ‘Breathe Life Concert for a Healthy People-Healthy Planet’. It was a part of the first World Health Organisation Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health.
Asked how he sees the exchange of Indian and Western music, he said: “When I collaborate musically with other artistes across the globe, we are not only collaborating on music, but we are also collaborating on our traditions, cultures, languages, beliefs, issues, solutions and more.”
“Many times we do not understand a word of each other’s languages, so much so that we do not even understand sign language. This is because our reference points itself (are) very different. But the moment we start playing music and collaborating, we immediately get the sense of the emotion that the other artiste is trying to convey and we play along in harmony. This is the power of music! It goes beyond borders,” he said.
His current engagements include spending a lot of time focusing on children.
“If we speak about creating a more environmentally conscious society, then we need to start with the children. I have created a musical education programme for children called the ‘My Earth Songs’,” he said.
‘My Earth Songs’ is a set of universal songs for children about the planet inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Everyone needs to play their part to help reach these goals. As musicians, we use our art to… spread awareness about them. Our audience will sing our songs, and keep humming them many times a day. One goal will catch their attention, followed by another, and another, becoming a topic for conversation that will build into a cause for action,” said Kej.
(Nivedita can be contacted at [email protected])