Born and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Meta Dia grew up listening to the likes of Bob Marley and James Brown as well as local African musical traditions.
Impressing audiences in Senegal since the age of 14, he arrived to New York City in 2002 and soon started collaborating with several noted hip hop artists.
With his own band, Meta & the Cornerstones, Meta’s powerful singing and songwriting abilities shine, as he reinvigorates reggae by reconnecting it with its African roots. Weaving between a multilingual palette of French, English, Wolof, and Fulani, his music breaks barriers as it builds bridges across the Atlantic.
Promoting tolerance and unity, Meta’s music is uplifting and positive, while it re-imagines reggae with an African aesthetic.
“Meta and the Cornerstones have taken us back to the foundation of reggae music,’ says Clive Chin, Jamaican producer for The Wailers, Dennis Brown, and Lee Perry. “It’s a band that sounds tight and wicked with infectious lyrics.”
Fariborz Azizi was born in Tehran (Iran) in 1961. He has performed on tar and setar for more than 30 years. Before devoting himself to classical Persian music, he obtained a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Tehran University.
He first became attracted to music during his teenage years listening to the radio show Golchin Hafteh. He was heavily influenced by Chavosh musical masters including Hossein Alizadeh, who has been his master for more than 10 years.
Since 2006, he lives in Los Angeles where he teaches tar and setar classes, holds lectures, performs concerts and composes traditional and contemporary Persian music.
Akkas Fakir is also an extremely popular Fakiri singer and Khol player from Nadia district of West Bengal. Akkas primarily sings the songs of Lalan Shah Fakir, a true propagator of Baul philosophy from Kushtia district, Bangladesh. Typically, his songs express sentiments of love and universal brotherhood.
Anindo Chatterjee is regarded as one of the most versatile tabla masters performing today. His playing style encompasses many of the best elements of the top teaching traditions of the instrument.
He was born in 1954 and was encouraged to take up tabla by his uncle, sitar player Pandit Biswanath Chatterjee, when he was just four years old. At five he was All India Radio’s youngest artiste. He started taking music lessons at the age of five under Ustad Afaq Hussain Khan, of Lucknow, and then had thirty years of training under Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. at seventeen he won the All India Radio competition and received the title of Best Young Tabla Player of the Year from the President of India.
With a training and performing career that goes back to the age of six, Anindo has developed a distinct idiom and a vast repertoire. He is renowned not only for the clear, precise nature of his playing, but for the tremendous creativity and artistic flair he brings to the tabla.
A presence on the international stage since he began touring in 1975 with sitar maestro Nikhil Bannerjee, Anindo has since traveled the world, performing as soloist and accompanying most of the contemporary masters of Indian music.
Sitar player Anupama Bhagwat is one of the leading sitar disciples of the world-renowned Pandit Shri Bimalendu Mukherjee. Her sensitivity and erudition has taken her to the highest echelons of the modern genre, while remaining true to tradition. She has imbibed the vigor that is a hallmark of her Gharana: scintillating fast taans, mastery of the meditative alaap and brilliant fluency of melody (raag bhava), all the while maintaining her technical virtuosity.
Anupama was born in 1974 in a musically inclined family in Bhilai, India. She began her musical training in Bhilai with Shri R. N. Verma at the age of nine, having received her uncle’s sitar as a gift. At the age of thirteen, she commenced her tutelage with Pandit Shri Bimalendu Mukherjee, a doyen of the famous Imdadkhani Gharana. Under her Guruji’s guidance, Anupama acquired the finesse and technical nuances of the Gayaki style, while bringing out its lyrical beauty with the emotive cadences of the sitar. During this time, Anupama was conferred the title Surmani, by Sur Sringar Sansad, Bombay (1995); she won First Position in the All India Radio Music Competition (1994), as well as a HRD Scholarship from the Government of India (1993-1996).
Now as an established artist, besides her concert appearances worldwide, Anupama conducts sitar workshops and lecture-demonstrations.
Anupama obtained her Masters in music from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya (Khairagarh), India.
Arman Fakir is one of the most senior and highly regarded Fakiri singers living in Gorbhanga village of Nadia district. He is well-known for having an extensive repertoire of songs and his unique performances of Bangla Qawwali.
Asha Bhosle’s name is synonymous with two things: Bollywood (also known as filmi, the Indian movie industry) and success. The appetite for Bollywood reaches way beyond the subcontinent and its far- flung diaspora communities. In terms of scale of popularity, the size of its audience and the possibilities for creating stars, no other popular music culture compares with that of the Indian subcontinent.
Asha’s effect in terms of global cultural impact and influence can not be underestimated, and her Olympian place as the most recorded artist in history, with more than 20,000 documented songs in over a dozen languages, is undisputed.
Asha was born in September 1933 in Sangali, Maharashtra, into what proved to be one of the century’s most influential and successful musical dynasties. After her father’s unexpected death in 1942, the family moved from Pune to Kolhapur, before settling in Bombay in 1944, the booming center of the wartime Hindi-language film industry.
Through family string-pulling, Asha procured a cameo role in a Marathi-language picture as a child actress. At the age of 10, she discovered that she disliked acting but loved singing, and by the late 1940s she was singing in Bombay productions. Post-Partition, everyone was jockeying for position in the Bombay film industry and consequently her career climb took time.
The most interesting songs went to the same clique of playback singers, and so she began by sharing a microphone with established vocalists. A mother-tongued Marathi speaker, she took on jobs singing in Punjabi, Bengali and Hindi, earning respect for her reliability, her ear and her innate gift for mimicry.
Always one to enjoy a challenge she went from classical to romantic songs, to pure pop. By the second half of the 1950s, her perseverance had paid off, and her name was on the nation’s lips.
Ken Hunt compiled an album of her music for the Rough Guide series, with input from Asha and her son Anand. Asha herself reviewed the selection of songs, and chose some of her best moments. The earliest recording on the album, ‘Ina Mina Dika’ from the film Asha, was a rock ‘n’ roll scandal in 1956, of which she says ‘I was Elvis Presley!’. In 1957 she sang in Mother India, a film that is seen as one of the most important statements of Indian identity, and the source of the upbeat chorus song ‘Dukhbhare Din’.
Asha ranks the experimental song ‘Mera Naam Hai Shabnam’ as one of her more difficult challenges. From the 1970 film Kati Patang, she had to balance tempo and dovetail her voice into the orchestrations. Headstrong and ambitious, taking on risky (sometimes risque) songs really stamped her career – songs such as ‘Sapna Mera Toot Gaya’, from the 1975 film Khel Khel Mein, where she had to find a key that allowed her to reach beyond the male’s distinctive high-register voice.
Umrao Jaan, Muzaffa Ali’s 1981 film, is a famous story about the life and struggles of a historic taiwaf, a courtesan. ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai’ is taken from this film, which became a milestone in Indian cinema, and for which Asha won a National Award.
She picked up a second National Award in the 1987 film Ijaazat. ‘Mera Kuchh Saaman’ allowed her voice to shine, showing off her impressive command of vocal dynamics, with a tune that her husband R.D. Burman had composed in ten minutes. A vocal actress equally capable of capturing the character of the heroine, the courtesan, the ingenue, the brazen hussy, the world-weary woman and the vamp, Asha Bhosle’s talent and vocal versatility have made her top of the Bollywood pantheon of playback legends since the late 1950s.
Asha Bhosle introduced American audiences to the range of her well-known and well-loved repertoire with The Rough Guide to Asha Bhosle (2003), her 2005 collaboration with the Kronos Quartet You’ve Stolen My Heart, and Love Supreme (Times Square Records, 2006), a double CD of love songs. Love Supreme ‘a two-sided coin of newly- recorded ghazals (a classical song form based in Persian and Urdu poetry that Bhosle describes as ‘a conversation between two lovers?) and her classic-romantic duets from some of Bollywood’s best-loved movies ? is as diverse as the artist herself.
Much of Bhosle’s inspiration comes from her home life and family. Her children and grandchildren are her chief advisors in developing new directions for her music. It is that intergenerational attunement that gives her an appeal that has lasted for five decades.
In 2008, Bhosle celebrated her 75th birthday, which has inspired the release of 75 Years of Asha: A Musical Journey. Also in 2008, the president of India bestowed upon her the Padma Vibhushan, which is the second highest civilian award in India. 75 Years of Asha: A Musical Journey is a journey through her career, featuring new recordings of her all time favorites, including songs made famous by these legendary female vocalists, who had a deep impact on Bhosle’s life.
Babu Fakir specializes in Qawwali and Baul/Fakiri songs and is an extremely powerful singer in Fakiri music. Through Qawwali repertoire, he maitains a hundred year old oral tradition that praises both Allah and Lord Krishna. As a Dotara player, he is also renowned for his Kirtan repertoires.
Golam Fakir is an acclaimed singer and Dotara player (an instrument much associated with the musical culture of the Bengali people and highly favored by the Baul). Golam comes from Gorbhanga village located in Nadia District of West Bengal, a state of Eastern India. Golam specializes in Marfati, Murshidi and Qawwali repertoire and is regarded as one of the leading singers in Fakiri music.