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The BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music The BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music
Nitin Sawhney

Artist: Nitin Sawhney

Category: Boundary Crossing (Winner); Innovator

Read an interview with Nitin Sawhney.

'I started in the studio with the bones of the album, then went round the world to find its soul', says Nitin Sawhney on the making of his fifth album, Prophesy which became a personal odyssey for this multi-award-winning composer and musician.

The album features over 230 musicians with Sawhney travelling to six continents in pursuit of his creations. There were jam sessions in the shanty towns of Soweto and the samba schools of Rio, a rendezvous with a 93 year old native American medicine woman, an Aboriginal dream voyage courtesy of Yothu Yindi as well as a personal audience with Nelson Mandela. The result, as noted in The Guardian, is a 'template for Britain's culturally diverse future' and cements Nitin's international standing.

Sawhney was born to Indian parents in Rochester, Kent, a strong-hold for the National Front in the 70's. Music brought a welcome relief. He studied Law at Liverpool University where he met Sanjeev Bhaskar. They created the comedy 'Secret Asians' which spawned the BBC award-winning tv series 'Goodness Gracious Me'. After a tour with the James Taylor Quartet, he formed 'The Jazz Tones' and collaborated with tabla player Talvin Singh in the 'The Tihai Trio'. Since his debut solo album, Spirit Dance in 1993, his musical impetus to create a new Indo-western fusion has evolved apace. Migration (1995), Displacing the Priest (1996), Beyond Skin (1999) and Prophesy (2001) each explore religion, politics and the complexities of the Anglo-Asian experience.

Recognition has come accordingly via a MOBO in 2001 for Prophesy as well as a Mercury Music award nomination and the South Bank Show Award for Beyond Skin. Besides touring globally to capacity houses, he's had two commissions from the BBC Proms; produced the Algerian Rai maestro Cheb Mami; remixed Khaled, Sting and Paul McCartney; and composed film scores including 'The Dance of Shiva' and the recent Raymond Briggs animation 'Ivor the Invisible'.

With a new album underway, together with more film scores and a collaboration with aclaimed Kathak dancer Akram Khan, and with celebrities like Madonna and McCartney name-checking his work, Nitin Sawhney's musical vision 'to open up to different ways of looking at the world' is assured for the foreseeable future.

Biography by Maud Hand, November 2001

Visit www.nitinsawhney
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