From Folk to Fusion: Embracing the Best of Both Musical Worlds
In Meghalaya, we witnessed a remarkable departure from the conventional folk music scene. Unlike the norm, we encountered a group of youthful musicians exuding vibrant energy and passion. This dynamic ensemble seamlessly blended the realms of folk and fusion, embodying the best of both worlds. Their spirited performance and dedication highlighted the unique intersection of tradition and contemporary exploration. It was an inspiring testament to the evolving nature of folk music and the power of the younger generation to shape its future.
The group led by Amabel Susgni called “Mookhuri” carries a heartwarming meaning behind it. Inspired by the traditional three-stone cooking stove, commonly known as “Mookhuri” in Meghalaya’s kitchens, the band aptly chose this name as a symbol of their musical journey. In the Khasi tribal community, music is believed to originate from the hearth where these three stones reside. Just as Mookhuri provides balance and support for cooking pots and kettles, the band seeks to ignite the flames of music from this sacred starting point.
The band comprises six talented individuals who proudly represent the folk music of their state. While most of them belong to the “Pnar” community, a subtribe under the Khasi residing in the Jaintia hills, two teammates from the Garo tribe and Arunachal Pradesh joined them on that day.
These musicians possessed a remarkable command over both folk and fusion rock sounds, showcasing their exceptional vocal prowess and instrumental artistry. The recording process seamlessly flowed as we all shared a vibrant, youthful energy within the group. Their performances gifted us with two uplifting and heartwarming songs, leaving us feeling light-hearted. However, we couldn’t help but chuckle at the chilly breeze, which playfully added a touch of concern to the day’s proceedings.
The group started with a sweet love song called “Lai Uiñ Ke”, which showed a couple going on a date. With Amabel on the vocals, the song sounded even more sweeter with her melodious vocals. The lyrics of the song express the anticipation and excitement of the moment. The expression, “Hei por soo waje”, urges to go on a date at 4 o’clock in the evening. It signifies a special time set aside for love. The song portrays the affectionate connection between two individuals as they embark on a journey filled with love and togetherness.
Their second song, “Mewek Mewek”, is a musical celebration of Garo culture, its deep connection to nature, and the delight of welcoming guests into the embrace of home.
The enchanting composition of “Mewek Mewek” weaves a tale rooted in Garo folklore. Inspired by the belief associated with the Do’amek bird, whose flight signifies the imminent arrival of guests, the song captures the joyous atmosphere that accompanies their presence. With lyrical finesse, it depicts the importance of thorough preparations, from providing water to wash their feet to creating comfortable seating arrangements. The verses also evoke the Garo tradition of warm hospitality.
Amabel’s group firmly believes that their music serves as a vessel to preserve traditions while weaving captivating tunes that resonate deeply with diverse audiences. This conviction holds true, as the catchy melodies and poignant phrases of their songs leave an imprint in the minds of anyone who listens. Both of the songs that they chose to sing truly set the tone for us and had us rhythmically tapping our feet, nodding our heads and soaking in the music of the moment.
Recording these musicians becomes an extraordinary and surreal journey, for it extends far beyond their melodies. Through their music, we glimpse a profound part of their being—a glimpse into the stories they yearn to share with the world. In celebrating their cultural diversity, traditions, and cherished musical heritage, they offer a piece of their hearts to anyone who opens their ears and truly listens. It is in these moments that we are privileged to witness the essence of these remarkable artists as they pour their souls into their craft, leaving an everlasting impact on all who embrace their enchanting melodies.
The group, consisting of Teli Sumon (Ka bom drum), Christy Ahaiana D Sangma (Vocals), Hamieh Phawa (Ka Shynrang drum), Johny Melborn Sylh (Duitara string), Iohbor Rngikseh (Duitara string), and Amabel Susngi (Vocals), showcased exceptional expertise and unwavering dedication during their captivating performance. Recording alongside them provided a remarkable opportunity to not only witness their musical talents but also to delve into their personal stories. This rewarding experience has etched memories in our hearts and fostered cherished friendships that will endure for years to come.
– Meghal Sharma (Research Fellow)