Indian-South African musicians’ concerts from home become global hit

Indian diaspora in SA beating Covid-19 blues with music

Diaspora

May 17, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Indian-South African musicians’ concerts from home become global hit

Indian-African artists preparing for a virtual music concert (Image Credits: SA Musicians Against COVID-19)

An initiative by a group of Indian-origin South African musicians showcasing their talent online during the global Covid-19 lockdown has become an international hit.

For Johannesburg-based Indian origin musicians, Chitra Perumal, Pooven Pillay, Lexy Shunmoogam, Kreasan Moodley and a few others, past few months have been extremely busy. They have been rehearsing, performing, organising virtual concerts and connecting to Indian classical music-lovers across the world.

Their project named – SA Musicians against COVID-19, an initiative that the musicians started in April 2020, to help Indian-African artists showcase their talent in Indian classical music and dance forms, and to keep people entertained during the global Covid-19 lockdown, has become an international hit.

“It started as a way to entertain people for a few hours on weekends during lockdown. We asked for all emerging and established Indian-origin singers and musicians in Africa to come together in a musical extravaganza via Facebook. We did not expect that the musicians, as well as the audience would respond this enthusiastically,” says Shunmoogam, one of the founding members of the project.

“Now we have our hands full every day of the week with demands from artists who want a slot on our Facebook page or with demands of audiences asking for a specific artist, music, song or dance to be performed,” he adds.

According to him, almost every leading artist from South Africa who performs Indian classical music or dance, has already been featured in the virtual concerts organised by SA Musicians against COVID-19 group. He says that they even have to turn down many requests from performers in India and other countries as they do not get enough time to fulfil every demand these days.

“Our initial aim was to showcase the talent that we have here among Indian-African musicians, including providing a platform for children who are learning the art from local teachers. We could hardly foresee how artists who have never ever performed together would perform on the same platform in a virtual concert. But fortunately, it was very well received and people said that it entertains them and relaxes them amidst Covid-19 anxieties,” says another founding member, Moodley.

“What began as a small and humble initiative has now become a unique and almost unequalled ‘concert from home’ event, galvanising tens of thousands of people across the world through music and dance,” he adds.

He further informs that early this month, the SA Musicians against COVID-19 page also featured priests from various temples across South Africa, performing Kavady prayers, a ceremonial offering practiced by devotees of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war.

The members of the project also say that demand for performances of instrumental and cover versions of Indian film songs has also increased in past few months. Therefore, they are also planning to have a special weekend for this genre soon.

“Crowd concerts across the world have been cancelled because of the pandemic but our musicians and the response of the audience is making sure that the show goes on,” says Moodley.

New Delhi-based Pallavi Joshi, a 12-year-old sitar, a stringed instrument, player is one of the several artists who have recently performed in a virtual concert organised by the group. She says that it was her first public performance and she received overwhelming response from the organisers as well as the audiences of the concert.

“I have been learning sitar for little over a year now. I know I am not fully ready to perform on a stage but a virtual concert gave me an opportunity to perform from home. I performed for public for the first time. I feel encouraged and wish to perform again next month,” she says.

Joshi’s mother, Vaishali Joshi, who is also a sitar player, says that she came to know about the initiative only in January 2021 through WhatsApp where a family member had shared a link for one of the virtual concerts. Since then, she has been a constant audience for all performances organised by SA Musicians against Covid-19.

“It is a wonderful idea to arrange virtual concerts. It beats the Covid-19 blues for our family and many others like us. It gives a platform to new performers and emerging artists like my daughter,” she explains.

“The unique thing about these concerts is that it brings together two different cultures and languages. It allows everyone to witness the beautiful music, songs and dances that emerge when Indian and South African cultures mix together,” she adds.

Moodley says the initiative has been doing exceptionally well and thanks all artists and audiences who dedicate their time and efforts into bringing these offerings of love through music for over almost a year now.

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