Raghu performs “Khidki” exclusively at http://www.bbc.co.uk/later/
Raghu Dixit has fast become a shining beacon in the burgeoning Indian independent music scene. Raghu’s debut self-titled album was released through Vishal and Shekhar Music in 2008 and went on to become India’s highest selling non-film music release last year – with most of these sales being made at concerts rather than off the shelf.
On March 13th next, Raghu will be performing to over 150,000 fans in an open-air concert in his hometown of Bangalore. Another small landmark in Indian history is that Raghu’s band, The Raghu Dixit Project, is the first and only group to have performed a concert inside an Indian jail. Raghu’s reaction to local press reiterating this feat: “I’ve never been an activist. I’ve never done protest songs. I sing happy songs. I just want to try and make them (inmates) forget where they are, if for only one day”. This humble nature has won the hearts of legions of fans back home.
Raghu’s Brahmin background would usually lead to a life as a scholar, teacher or Hindu priest. Although initially educated as a mathematician with a Masters in Microbiology from the prestigious University of Mysore, music was always where Raghu’s heart lay. It was a bold and enlightened decision to give up this scholarly path in a quest to become India’s most successful folk fusion artist, for which he has now become recognised.
Although his family had always been avidly against Raghu learning, and subsequently mastering, the guitar due to a traditional belief that guitars are associated with Christianity, music was always at the very core of his upbringing. Before life as a contemporary musician, Raghu had become a Vidwat master in Bharatanatyam, one of the more popular ancient classical Indian dance disciplines. This art form has clearly influenced the music and stage show that The Raghu Dixit Project performs today.
Despite shying away from the popular sound of Bollywood, Raghu has always managed to capture the hearts and imagination of the population with his direct yet inimitable brand of music. With a towering voice fronting traditional Indian folk music, subtly infused with elements of Western Rock, Arabic, Latino and Reggae textures and rhythms, Raghu’s music transcends borders. His lyrics, though intense, are direct and speak about everyday themes, emotions and experiences making his songs truly universal.
Raghu has always said that it is his country, the Indian people, the colours, fragrances, food and languages that have helped to influence and shape his music. This influence can be seen on stage with the band adorning colourful Lungis (sarongs), anklets and beads. With over 300 shows under their belt, the band has become an explosive live act bringing an entirely new genre to the forefront of the Indian music community.
The band has played at The Sage Gateshead, and the Womad and Lovebox festivals in the UK, the Jeonju Sori Music Festival in Korea, for RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong), at KalaUtsav in Singapore, at the Namaste India festival in Tokyo, Japan and at the Royal Philharmonia in Vladivostok, Russia.
May 7th – Womad Caceres, Spain
May 9th – Roots and Flutes City Showcase, London
May 10th – Nehru Centre (High Commission of India), London
May 11th – The Water Rats, London
May 13th – The Great Escape, Brighton
May 14th – Bush Hall, London (supporting Trembling Bells)
May 15th – Kannada Association, Queensbury/Harrow
May 19th – 33-45 Venue, Liverpool SoundCity, Liverpool
May 28th – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
June 13th – Bradford Mela, Bradford
June 19th – Big Session Festival, Leicester
June 26th – Lapstock, Devon
July 2nd – Regal Room, Hammersmith
July 4th – Cornbury , Charlbury
July 17th – Larmer Tree Festival, Dorset
July 18th – Nottingham Mela, Nottingham
July 25th – Sampad Mela, Birmingham
July 30th – Kendal Calling, Lake District
July 31st – Cardiff Big Weekend, Cardiff
August 1st – Croydon Music Festival (Mela), Croydon