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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Sirishkumar
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Musician: Sirishkumar

Location: London

Instruments: tabla

Music: Indian / World fusion

HOW I CAME TO THIS MUSIC          WHERE I PLAY          A FAVOURITE SONG Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story


Listen  Listen (4'43) to 'Melo Melo' arranged and performed by Sirishkumar from the album, Kirtan Mala, available from www.sirishkumar.com

Listen  Listen (3'07) to Sirishkumar talk about his music

Watch  Watch (2'03) a video of 'Melo Melo', performed live at the Swaminarayan Temple, Forest Gate, East London with Sirish on tablas, Dhanji Vekaria and Ramji Vekaria on vocals; Ashwinkumar on harmonium, Mike Pickering on drums, Jason Carter on Spanish guitar, Dave Noble on sitar and bass, David Wright on saxophone, Steve Edis on keyboards, and Arwin Vekaria on manjira with the chorus courtesy of local Hindu boys and sound engineered by Dineshkumar.

'I was so touched by the tabla that even as a young boy, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life playing music driven by its energising beats.'

How I came to this music:

My father, Bhagwanj Bharadwaj, was a classical singer and multi-instrumentalist. He studied in Southern India under Pandit Umkarnat Takore but I was actually born in Taboura, Tanzania. Through my father's music within the Asian African community we actually moved about a lot and finally settled in Uganda. Even though my father was an acclaimed musician, there wasn't much value put on artists then so he worked as a construction designer to make a living. There were 7 kids and times were tough. In the evenings we made our own entertainment. My father taught us all he knew about music. He actually wanted me to take a career-oriented degree but I was so touched by the tabla that even as a young boy, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life playing and sharing music driven by its energising beats.

Sirishkumar The family moved to Uganda where we remained closely linked to the Asian community there. Although we listened to other music on the radio, I was primarily influenced by the Indian music I heard at the temple and during Hindi festivals like Diwali. Uganda was good while it lasted, especially for my father because he began to perform publicly again. Then Idi Amin banished all the Asians from the country in 1972. It was a very scary time. We were one of the last families in our apartment block with only 2 weeks to go but luckily we managed to get passports to the UK.

In the early days we lived in various camps up North. When word got around that my father was among the refugees, he was encouraged to perform. With our help, he'd organise musical events where he would sing accompanied by my sister on sitar, my brother on harmonium and me on tabla. We even got to perform at the Purcell Rooms in London at one stage and the whole family featured in a BBC documentary about the plight of the Ugandan Asians.

In time the family moved to London which was better for my father's music and ultimately for me. My father has passed on now but I'm still firmly committed to music thanks to his influence. He was my guru.

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