Shankar: Shakti is unrivalled in its ability to blend music of the East and West

Each time that we’ve picked up a discussion with about being part of the fusion band Shakti, the veteran musician appears to be earnestly grateful for the opportunity.

“Simply being with these musicians is like receiving a Grammy award. I don’t think any singer has had the chance to be with these stalwarts and doyens who represent the art form of music, across the world. [While touring with them only months ago], being on stage and experiencing 17 concerts in 30 days was amazing. Apart from the music, you learn a lot from them. Not only does one learn how to tour, and play with one another, but you also learn to work as a team. There is no one-upmanship. You learn about ethics, and how to remain happy for 40 days together. When you think about John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain, it appears like they have rewound their lives back by 20 years. They’re playing better than they did in the past. Their dedication and childlike enthusiasm about music inspire me,” says Mahadevan.

As part of the band, Mahadevan shares a nomination with his team-mates, including McLaughlin, Hussain, V Selvaganesh, and Ganesh Rajagopalan, as they eye the Best Global Music Album (This Moment) title. For the composer, it is the band’s unrivalled ability to blend music from the East with that of the West that has earned it its success. “Shakti is the pioneer in world fusion. It thought of combining the East and West in a proper way. There’s a strong Indian melodic content, also involving complex rhythms, with the harmonic element of the West. This happened 50 years ago. We didn’t have studio recordings then. I’ve been associated with them for 24 years. Now, we created this studio album after 45 years. I believe it earned a nomination because it has the true essence of Indian and western melodies and harmonic structures. There can’t be a better band than this.”

Shankar Mahadevan

The five musicians, with their distinct sensibilities, are able to “create music as one” when brought together. “There’s a lot of space for every artiste to shine. There’s love, joy, laughter, jokes, and, of course, very intense music.”

On his part, he says he looks forward to meeting the top brass of musicians in Los Angeles on February 5. “I’m looking forward to experiencing the aura of the successful world of musicians. This is the most prestigious music award in the world.”

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