Khete Khan and his group of instrumentalists belong to the famous Manganiyar community of Rajasthan and hail from Baiya village. Their group specializes in playing the Marawadi form of Rajasthani folk music. These musicians like to keep their music authentic in terms of the lyrics and instruments and belong to ‘Merasi’ gharana.
Khete Khan is a young musician who is just 27 of age and has been learning folk music since he was 10 years old. He is a learned traditional folk singer who sings all the folk songs which his father — grandfather has been singing for ages. He says that whatever he has learned is the only way of learning in his culture that is just through listening. He tells with pride that in his community when even a just born child cries, he cries in a raag and rhythm and so there is no necessary need to teach them or send them to some teacher in order to bring passion in them for music. Everyone in his community automatically learns from one generation to another. The mere mention of the folk music brings to the mind the melodious Rajasthani folk songs. Rajasthani folk music is immensely popular and is appreciated all over the world. The folk music of Rajasthan is originated from stories and daily activities of Rajasthani people.
Their community carries an ages-old and strong bond with the Rajputs as these artists have been performing for them since the middle ages. They consider Swaroop ‘Suryavanshi’ Singh’s royal family as their patrons. They sing bhajans that praise Hindu gods as well as famous Sufi saints of the olden times. These musicians are experts in their crafts and know-how to captivate the audience with their magical display of the art forms.
Their music is mostly an amalgamation of Indian classical melodies along with the Sufi creations that were performed by artists of Muslim descent and take a huge amount of inspiration from the extreme weather conditions of the Thar desert as well as the picturesque beauty of the endless sandy desert. The instruments used by this group are Dholak, Harmonium, Khartal and Kamaicha. They have been learning the art from a very young age as it has been a tradition in their families for centuries and they are only the latest generation of a long line of folk artists.
He wants to live with the passion for music alive in his life, as that is one passion which is very dear to him and keeps him going. He dreams to travel the world and spread the word about his culture with his music and passion. The Rajasthani style of music has made a significant contribution to enrich and enhance Indian music as a whole. The music of the royal state of Rajasthan has its own flavours which have kept the 5000 years old tradition of the state still alive. Thus the folk music of Rajasthan is the soul of the land of the Royals. Khete says “Folk music is suffering from cruel editing. People say that they are keeping folk music alive by remixing it, modifying its story, context and even lyrics. I think that is the perfect way of destroying something of historical importance, be it culture, heritage or traditions. And folk music is India’s heritage and it should be presented without modification in its soul or essence. And if this editing continues it’ll create confusion, ultimately destroying folk music.”
Most of these artists were taught the music by their parents and have not had any access to proper education as well as infrastructure that would make their lives comfortable. All their struggles though, have not stopped them from pursuing what they love most, which their melodies and describing their emotions of spirituality through their bhajans. Their brilliant vocals and musical finesse are unmatched as they wish to make a living out of these abilities and showcase them to the world in order to promote their culture and traditions and preserve their art form for future generations.
The group together when sings create a mesmerizing atmosphere amongst the audience and leave them to spellbind after their performances. The seasoned artists in the group are responsible for the teaching and guidance of the younger artists present in the group. The group sings mostly authentic original songs of their traditional heritage which has been passed on from their forefathers to them which each generation. The group performs at various occasions like childbirth, wedding, housewarming, etc. at their patronages’ houses. The group earns their living out of the live performances they give at various different places. Apart from the music they literally don’t have any means through which can earn.
The most interesting thing about this group is their love for fusion. Each one of the member in the group wither plays guitar, drums, or synth. They all look forward to a future where they can play together for a wider audience who can cherish the music that they make and play. However, their love for fusion music a lot but they make sure to keep up their cultural heritage folk music in balance and doesn’t hurt the emotions of their elders in their community. These group of artists don’t dream of going to Bollywood and collect fame, rather they and the world to know Rajasthan and their singing is known by their music. They want to make their country proud and carry forward their legacy from one generation to another. For them all they know is music and they can never get apart from it and thus for them it a not just music it is their way of living their lives.