Tag Archives: bhangra

Artist Profiles: Malaysian Dhol Federation

Malaysian Dhol Federation

The Malaysian Dhol Federation?s humble beginnings were traced back to the year 1996 in the city of Ipoh, Perak. It all started out when one young lad picked up an interest in the Bhangra drum (dhol) after watching it being played by an actor in a Bollywood movie.

Later in the year, the group?s founder, Kiranjit Singh, bought his first dhol, and from there onwards, embarked on a mystical journey of drumming. At first, Kiran played the dhol at family functions, impressing family and friends, and later got the idea of forming a Bhangra group, aptly named Revolutionary Boy?s of Bhangra, where he would play the Dhol and his friends would dance to the bhangra beat. As time progressed, the dancers took an interest in the drum and Kiran started teaching them how to play it properly. By the end of 1999, Kiran and 9 other drummers formed the Ipoh Dhol Federation.

The Ipoh Dhol Federation first performed at Punjabi weddings and birthday parties, doing escorts and small stage performances. Slowly but surely, the group grew in maturity and started adding acrobatic stunts to its already fantastic playing skills. Ipoh Dhol Federation performed in its first big stage performance outside of Ipoh during the first ever Bhangra Nite in Atmosphere TwelveSI in 2003.

After moving to Kuala Lumpur, Kiran started looking for dhol players to jam with, but unfortunately couldn?t locate any. Hence, he decided to teach the art of dhol drumming to anyone who wanted to learn it, not looking at age, gender, race, religion or caste. His first class, which was at his home, had only 5 students, and these 5 have become his main drummers, as well as teachers, now. During the early part of 2004, Kiran started receiving more and more requests to teach the dhol and decided to open up a centre in Wisma Tatt Khalsa, Jalan Raja Bot. At this time, Kiran was still performing with the Ipoh Dhol Federation.

In August 2004, Kiran was requested to gather a group of 40 dhol drummers for the Aman Peace celebrations in Dataran Merdeka. It was from this event that the idea of evolving into the Malaysian Dhol Federation, combining the drummers from Ipoh with the new ones from Kuala Lumpur, was fueled by his second in command, Ravinderjit Singh and in September 2004, Malaysian Dhol Federation was formed. At that time, the group had 15 core drummers, which has been trimmed down to 7, due to work commitments.

“The federation now has around 45 students of all races, from all over the country, showing that music, and in particular, drumming, really breaks down the barrier of race and caste, bringing all of us closer. We hope to expand our classes to the whole of Malaysia and expose the whole country, if not the world, to the art of dhol drumming.”

Small performances under the banner of Malaysian Dhol Federation followed and the group was suddenly in danger of falling by the way side and being labeled as just another Punjabi group.

A change of concept brought new overtures for the group. The idea of combining traditional dhol beats with modern music was brought forward by Ravinderjit and immediately accepted by other members. In came guitarists, a jazz drummer, a keyboardist and a tabla player and soon Malaysian Dhol Federation started churning out some old school funk, jazz, rock and dance numbers, combining them with the sounds of the dhol.

As time progressed, so did the group. The extraordinary musical properties of the dhol was skillfully explored and combined as a whole with modern music and the effect was simply beautiful.

With this new concept, Malaysian Dhol Federation started receiving more attention and due respect in the entertainment industry.

Drummers from the Malaysian Dhol Federation were called in for a special collaboration with local reggae artist, Sasi the Don, on his second album. Due to the popularity of that collaboration, the Malaysian Dhol Federation drummers were then roped in by none other than Reshmonu, Malaysia?s R&B giant, for his big hit, “Hey Waley Waley.” Currently, the Malaysian Dhol Federation drummers ?beat away? with him every time he has a performance.

The Malaysian Dhol Federation has been featured on local television and radio shows as well. Their first TV appearance was on TV3’s Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI) in 2004. In January 2005, Malaysian Dhol Federation played live on RED104.9?s Spin Local, entertaining listeners with their own brand of funk n? dhol. They later performed on local TV talk show, Latte at 8 (8TV) and was clearly one of the audience’s favorites as they moved and danced to the ferocious drumming and rhythms of the group.

The group accepted to join the One World Beat project, a charity organization of drummers from around the world, who raise money for the poor children of the world, in the hope of totally eradicating poverty.

In August 2005, the Malaysian Dhol Federation hosted its first ever project, called Drum Circles. This event was a community based project, aimed at bringing people from different ethnic backgrounds together through the beat of the drum, bonding relationships and forging ties among all Malaysians, taking up the challenge from the government of creating Bangsa Malaysia.

The group disbanded in 2006.


Artist Profiles: Malkit Singh

Malkit Singh


Malkit Singh was born on September 13, 1962 in Hussainpur, Punjab, India. He’s a Punjabi music icon that was catapulted from virtual obscurity in the early 1980s to this his overwhelming status as one of the pioneers of Bhangra music all within a short musical lifetime. He is probably the leading Bhangra act in the world today the idol of all generations and holder of the unofficial title as the King of Bhangra.

His 17th album “Millennium Mixes” represented a colossal union of the musical and lyrical presence that has kept him at the forefront of the Bhangra music scene. His albums Midas Touch, Forever Gold and Upfront were worldwide hits and reached platinum sales.

Malkit Singh has proved himself in the mainstream with his remarkable debut on the Apache Indian single Independent Girl – taking Punjabi music culture and gospel to realms yet unknown. Known as ‘the Golden Voice of Punjab’ Malkit Singh and his ‘Golden Star’ troop have been touring around the world receiving honors from the former Prime Minister of India and recorded and filmed with Apache Indian.

The album Upfront was the renaissance that Bhangra had been waiting for. It has since become the biggest selling Punjabi album in history and spawned the super hit Tootak (Hey Jamalo). The track was awarded the honor of being The Most Outstanding Track of the Bhangra Era in 1993 justifying its longevity.

Over the years he has accumulated a wide range of awards for his songs his live act sales and for individual services to music. One of the most distinguished accolades was presented in 1997 The Recognition of the City of Los Angeles for Services to the Indian Community. “I wanted to bring back the desi style that originates from real Bhangra. My style is desi…it’s always been desi…my audience has always been desi and my fans want that old music style and powerful lyrics.”




Nach Giddhe Vich (HMV, 1986)
I Love Golden Star (T-Series, 1987)
Up Front (HMV, 1988)
Chott Nigary Lawo (HMV, 1988)
Putt Sardara De (Saga, 1988)
Hai Shava (T-Series, 1989)
Fast Forward (T-Series, 1989)
Dhotakada Bai Dhotakada (OSA, 1990)
Gal Sunja (Saga, 1991)
Ragga Muffin Mix (OSA, 1991)
Singho Ho Jo Kathe (Saga, 1992)
Tere Ishq Nachiyav (Saga, 1992)
Chak Deh Dholia (OSA, 1993)
Midas Touch (OSA, 1994)
Forever Gold (T-Series, 1995)
Agg Larr Gaayee (OSA, 1997)
Millennium Mixes (OSA, 1999)
Nach Nach (OSA, 2000)
Mighty Boliyan (OSA, 2001)
Paaro (OSA, 2002)
Midas Touch 2 (Music Waves, 2003)
21st Chapter (OSA, 2005)
Billo Rani (MovieBox, 2009)
Sikh Hon Da Maan (MovieBox/T-Series, 2014)
Midas Touch 3 (MovieBox/Saga Hits, 2017)


The Thunderous Sound of Red Baraat

Red Baraat – Bhangra Pirates (Rhyme & Reason Records, 2017)

American brass band Red Baraat is heading in an exciting new direction. Their 2017 album, Bhangra Pirates is an explosive mix of irresistible bhangra beats, funk, jazz and the mighty sound of a brass band. Now that they’ve gotten rid of the annoying rapping that appeared in some of the previous albums, Red Baraat’s South Asian sound is more musical, fluid and much easier to enjoy.

The lineup on this album includes Sunny Jain on dhol, effects and vocals; Rohin Khemani on percussion; Sonny Singh on trumpet; Ernest Stuart on trombone; Jonathan Goldberger on guitar; Delicate Steve on guitar; MiWi La Lupa on bass trumpet and vocals; Chris Eddleton on drum set; Tomas Fujiwara on drum set; John Altieri on sousaphone and effects; Jon Lampley on sousaphone and effects; Jonathon Haffner on soprano and alto saxophone; and Mike Bomwell on soprano and baritone saxophone.

Buy Bhangra Pirates


Enthralling Brew of Global music rooted in the Balkans

New York Gypsy All-Stars – Dromomania (New York Gypsy All-Stars, 2015)

The Pan-Balkan ensemble New York Gypsy All-Stars has released a fantastic album that goes beyond Balkan roots. Dromomania brings together captivating Balkan Gypsy music, brass band sounds, Turkish elements, funk, jazz, bhangra drums, electronic dance beats, salsa and much more.

The New York-based group is led by Macedonian clarinet maestro Ismail Lumanovski. He originally formed a duo with Greek bassist Panagiotis Andreou that grew into a full band featuring Turkish kanun innovator Tamer Pinarbasi, Australian-Turkish percussionist Engin Gunyadin; and American keyboardist Jason Lindner.

Dromomania was funded with support from the band’s music fans. Get it if you can, it’s one of the finest Balkan-inspired recordings we’ve heard in a long time. A delicious cocktail of global music influences rooted in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean.

Buy the digital version of Dromomania

Buy the Dromomania CD.



Bhangra was born sometime between the 14th and 15th centuries and is now regarded to be the one of the oldest folk dances in the world. Originating from the state of Punjab, split between India and Pakistan, Bhangra is the culmination of the hard season of harvest when farmers celebrate by singing and dancing to Bhangra songs and beats and thanking the heavens for what rich grain they have reaped.

The music and dance was also performed during sewing celebrations.In the early 1980s, Punjabi expatriates living in Great Britain developed it into a British musical genre. In this era, the dhol – the double barreled drum banged with two sticks – is the foundation of Bhangra events world-wide, whether it be a live stage performance or the recording of the latest Bhangra song. no Bhangra event can do without it!

Bhangra and its modernized sound still retains its classic and raw elements but also utilizes the modern instrumentation of music and language, producing Bhangra songs that can appease any type of audience.

This hybrid of traditional Indian music fused with a range of reggae, R&B, and pop beats gives it a more universal sound and appeal – drawing in a wider array of fans. With the constant hard-hitting dhol beats and tumbi strings leading the way for the vocals, Bhangra songs portray a whole plethora of emotions tempting the listener to throw their arms in the air and make tracks towards the dance floor.

The hi-energy beats and the contagious rhythms of Punjabi melody continue to spread themselves to a global audience as the music keeps traveling to shores further and further afield. The up-tempo vibes of the music and the panache of the artists continue to popularize this music genre which is rapidly making Bhangra an essential and integral part of global musical culture.

Bhangra recordings

The Rough Guide to Bhangra (Second Edition)
The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance
The Rough Guide to Bhangra (1st edition)
Bhangra: Original Punjabi Pop
Bar Bhangra