Asrar Ahmad is a middle-aged Qawalli musician from Maler Kotla, near Patiala, in Punjab. He belongs to the Rehmat Qawwaal Gharana. Inspired by his father, who was also a Qawwaali musician, Asrar Ahmed started his training as a Qawwal musician when he was as young as 15. He has known Anwar Ali Ji for the past 30 years and has been playing with him professionally for shows too. The two often sit at home during leisure time, and jam together for a melodious Qawwali ‘Sama’. Asrar Ahmed Ji’s grandfather was also a Qawwaali musician, and he has played a significant role in carving Asrar Ji’s talent into the sculpture of a competent Qawwaali musician. Asrar Ji’s elder brother also used to learn along with him from the father and grandfather. They both used to sit together and sing various ‘Kalaams’ of ‘Bulle Shah’ and many more.
Armaan Ali is a young musician from Lachkani village of Patiala district in Punjab. He is the grandson of Desraj Ji and is a brilliant folk artist who masters in playing Dhad, Sarangi, Algoze, Tumbi, Dhola and Bugdu as well. He learnt this rich art form from his great-grandfather, who was also a folk musician. He is deeply inspired by his elder brother, Iqbal Khan, who is an also a folk artist. Iqbaal Ji trains children in folk music- both singing and instruments- so that the rich and vibrant traditional heritage of Punjab remains alive. Armaan Ji loves playing the folk instruments, as he feels a sense of connection with them. Music is his passion. He works hard, day and night, to excel in this art form, and inspire the younger generation to stay connected to their roots through music. He earns his bread through musical performances only. Armaan Ji feels that by bringing together contemporary musicians with the folk artists and creating fusion music occasionally, the younger generation would identify and appreciate their music. He was extremely glad at the thought of his own website and had bigger dreams about the same.
Shaukat Khan plays Khartal in the group. He started learning Khartal when he was 12 years old from his uncle Samandar Khan was his Ustad (teacher). He has always been dedicated towards his music and passion for it grows with every day. Since he was child, he travelled with his father for almost all his shows and from there his will to learn evolved. Therefore, from that moment till today he has contributed all of his time to music. For him his seven generations have been not only associated with music but has also been exceptionally good in it. When it comes to play and perform his favourite genres are Sufi and Bollywood. Shaukat firmly believes that their music should improvise with every generation and highlight this kind of music in the whole world. He wishes to walk on the footsteps of his father, Sawan Khan so that he could entertain the world by his music throughout his life.
Ramesh plays khartal, dholak and even sings. His interest rises from his mother while she used to play dholak. Apart from all of above he is also a puppeteer and have been displaying his skill since 30 years. He is an exceptionally amazing puppet creator. He makes a living by selling puppets. He has visited several countries like Spain, Lahore, Pakistan and all over India to display his talent. He sings and play with his puppets to demonstrate stories of Amar Singh Rathore, Raja Bhoj, Prithviraj Chouhan, etc. He also focusses on teaching the next generation everything that he knows. He is a strong believer of conveying stories through music and puppetries.
An expert Algoza player of the group, Haridas Ram Bheel is 30 and has been learning how to play and make Algozas since the age of 10. He has learnt this art from his father, and says that his ancestors were based in Pakistan and have been engaged in the art of Algoza making since generations. Alghoza is a pair of woodwind instruments adopted by Punjabi, Sindhi, Kutchi, Rajasthani and Baloch folk musicians. It is also called Mattiyan ,Jōrhi, Pāwā Jōrhī, Do Nālī, Donāl, Girāw, Satārā or Nagōze.It consists of two joined beak flutes, one for melody, the second for drone. The flutes are either tied together or may be held together loosely with the hands.
Haridas hails from a small village near Khuri and has performed at many places in India and wants to perform abroad as well. According to Haridas, Algoza is a difficult instrument to master, as it requires an impeccable perfection of breathing techniques.He has been teaching this art to his kid too. Even though Haridas’s father has performed abroad, there are no recordings from those times.
Haridas earns a living by making Algoza. An Algoza takes a minimum of 10 to 15 days to make and costs around 8 to 10,000 rupees. He wishes to carry forward this art by the help of kind patrons. One can directly contact Haridas Ram Bheel to buy an Algoza.
Hari Ram Bhopa belong from Bhopa caste. His ancestors used to do paint and play an instrument called Ravanhatta. Hari Ram not only plays but also make and teach Ravanhatta. He has learnt this art of playing this instrument from his ancestors. Since his childhood he wanted to be a performer and lead way with the existing tradition of music. He shifted to Jaisalmer to promote traditional music and instrument. Currently he earns his living from Ravanhatta. In present day it’s only the Bhopa caste that makes this instrument. He has performed in major cities all over India. He has given music of his Ravanhatta in Bollywood movie “Tell me Oh Khuda” also. Ravanhatta has gave him high recognition in the society which considered his caste as a lower caste. Many tourists come to Jaisalmer just to learn and buy Ravanhatta from him and that is the source of income for him. He sits by the lake and sells the Ravanhatta, hand made by him. Just like his nature his music is also innocent and simple in nature. He plays such mesmerizing music with the Ravanhatta that allures tourist from all over the world.
Akham belongs to the Charan caste. He plays harmonium and veena in the group. His father has been the sole reason for his inclination towards folk music. It has been 7 years since he became associated with Sridhar and group. Most of the shows he does are local and in the nearby villages of Barmer city. He is a married man and has got 3 kids. As a good father, he has always tried his best to provide them with good education and freedom to choose the kind of life they wish to live. He wants them to pursue their education and also explore music. He believes he has seen a certain decline in the interest of artists towards folk music because of the lack of appreciation from the world.
Akham works at the JSW water treatment plant to support the finances of his family. He has completed his school education and wishes to study further. Most of the shows he gets are on a recommendation basis. His interest and passion towards music allow him to create a balance between his professional and personal life.
Kumba Ram is a young individual from a village named Bhadhka 35 km from Barmer. He has been a fellow member of Dana Singh since past 2 years. He plays Manjeera and Khartaal in the group. It’s been 2 years since he started learning folk music. He also dances on Dhol and wishes to be a performer in near future. He did his schooling till 10th grade but couldn’t pursue education because of the financial conditions. Apart from music, he earns from farming and is also working as a computer operator. He has been married for 2 years and is living with his mother and brother. Kumba has performed in almost all the major cities of India, mainly regions of Rajasthan. His most memorable performance was in Mumbai. He idolizes Dana Ji and wishes to be like him, as a person and as an artist. Most of the shows done by him are from within the state of Rajasthan. Kumba sees other folk artists as messengers of god spreading the message of peace and brotherhood.
Shridhar is from a small village of Barmer in Rajasthan called Bhadresh. He is 48 years old, from the Meghwal community of Rajasthan. He is mostly into singing devotional folk songs. He was born into a family who have been following the tradition of singing folk songs from ages. He has learnt everything he knows about music and the bhajans from his father and grandfather whom he used to accompany in almost every show when he was a little boy. He never had a defined or specific training while learning the traditional folk bhajans. For him ‘Satsangs’ are a source of positivity and he will not stop singing bhajans till he dies. Unlike the artists from his community he used to learn songs after writing them on small bits of papers. He can sing bhajans in all the ragas as per the specific timing of the day. He has in-depth knowledge of music. Shridhar wants to transmit this art to his children but he is not sure how far they would be able take it as they look a little disinterested. Then he remembers that he himslef was also disinterested when his father used to sing and so it is possible his son, like him, could become interested too some day. So he says that to keep the tradition alive he will continue singing in the hope that his son will be interested in it later on. He hopes to find a way to help everyone in the country identify themselves with traditions.
Abdul Khan, 23, is the nephew of Sakur Khan and is married, and also has a kid. He has performed almost all over India. Abdul Khan is the only one in the group who is a college graduate and has a Bachelor of Arts degree. He wants a balance of both music and academics for his kids. Sufism is the main genre of this group but he is fond of Bollywood music too. He likes Chandigarh particularly because of the huge spaces and people. Abdul Khan is eagerly waiting to perform abroad and also performs independently. This 23 year old enthusiastic singer has learnt music from his uncle, Sakur Khan, and Indra Khan, who are his mentors.
Adil Khan developed a taste for folk music from a very young age. He is merely 19 years and has been singing as well as playing folk instruments, for 5 years now. He plays the sarangi and enjoys folk music to the fullest. He learnt to play the Sarangi from his Guruji from Vijay Yamla, who is the grandson of Lal Chand Yamla Jatt. He says that Sarangi fills his life with melody and bliss, and besides being his passion, playing the instrument also acts as an escape in difficult times. He has just cleared his board exams and is willing to apply for Indian music courses in reputed colleges. He loves to experiment with his music, and come up with folk songs embedded in a different tune or style. He has always been inspired by his elders to carry forward the heritage of folk music and staying connected to the roots. Understanding the significance of folk music is a remarkable thing for a boy his age.
Ahmed is a Khartaal player in the group. He has learned to play Khartaaal through the traditional learning which goes from his forefathers to the next generation. He has been learning since he was 5 years old and now he is a 22-year-old young man. He has studied till class 8th. Ahmed is also a part of the famous “Manganiyaar Seduction” group and has travelled with them for his shows in countries like France, Portugal, etc. Even in India, he has been to various different cities. Ahmed wishes to make progress in life and take their culture to all the corners in the world.
Ahmed Khan, 28 is passionate about reflecting the culture and heritage of Jaisalmer in his music, and is less fond of popular songs. Ahmed Khan uses all the traditional raagas like Malahar, Jog, Bhairavi etc. and Jog is his favorite raga, since he says that it brings an entirely different dimension to a song. Like all families, music runs in his family and he has been learning music since he was 8 years old. His elder brother Thanu Khan is his Ustad and Guru. Ahmed has performed all over in India and has also performed internationally in Bangkok. Ahmed wants his group to be famous, and also wants a musical group by his name. He was accompanied by Chugge Khan during his Thailand trip.
Ajam Khan is a young folk musician from Mallaur, Punjab. He simply loves to sing, and plays Sarangi with all his heart. At the age of just 20 years, he has released 4 songs. He has performed in various competitions and youth festivals. Ustad Kulvant Singh from Khanna for Sarangi, for table he learnt from Baba Sohan Singh Ji. He had interest in Tabla initially, inspired by his school teacher, he started playing Sarangi too, and gradually it became his main instrument. About his 4 songs, people are deviating from their culture and he has shown that there is still some good left, there are young people who are involved in devotional activities, who respect their elders and who are responsible as well. He also has good interest in classical music as well. He thinks that passion is very important to pursue any goal. His elder brother is also into music, he has been making songs since 10th standard.
Ameen Khan is a 21 year old all-round musician from Barmer. Primarily, he plays dholak in the group. Apart from that he can also play Harmonium and Khartal and is well versed with most of the folk music instruments. He has learned from his brother Khete Khan and has been into music from almost 12 years. He is a permanent member of this group, and also performs with other groups as well. He belongs to Sunta Gharana, which gave him exposure to music early on in his life, and has been focussing on only music after he left school in 7th standard. He listens to Ghulam Ali’s songs and follows his style very closely. Besides that, Nusrat fateh Ali khan also inspires him. He is well versed in performing sufi and Qawwali songs. His favourite raga is Raga Maand.
Ameen khan is very passionate when it comes to music, and dedicatedly follows a strict routine. He wakes up early in the morning and does Riyaaz for 4 hours from 5-9 am. Then in the evening, he trains young Mirasi musicians at Mahindra Gunsar Lok Sangeet Sansthan, a Music School run by Bax Khan. There he teaches around 25 students, and has been teaching there from quite some time now. His students are already prospering and are performing with established group of folk musicians. He has a dream to perform in foreign countries as well, and bring exposure for his students in the music school.
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