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SP Chauhan and Group

By May 28, 2021February 26th, 2023Uttar Pradesh

“Life with Awadh folk as it is.”

The region of Awadh, in Uttar Pradesh province of India, is one of the most culturally influenced regions within the country. As various rulers and dynasties came and left along with the appointments of different governors, Awadhi culture has seen a transformation like no other in the country. Yet, the cultural arts have stayed somewhat preserved with its multiple residents, taking interest in keeping their traditions intact.

The folk music of Awadh got affected by these changes to a much greater extent. Meeting the artists of Awadh is always an honour since many of them have taken rigorous training in classical and folk music and show tremendous ability in their craft. This region has produced great artists and musicians, a lot of them highly coveted and renowned in their areas.

The brilliance of Awadhi folk comes into light as you meet and watch artists such as SP Chauhan and the troupe he leads. As a vocalist, SP Chauhan displays undeniable brilliance and passion in his songs. Behind this is a person, who is bold and honest, and talks about the art of the region, fervently.

“Western influence has brought the has had a huge amount of impact to the Awadhi folk music”, he says. Further in the conversation, he adds, “It is the vulgarity that I don’t appreciate. I can never support it and perform such songs. Authenticity is the most important thing, in my opinion.” Unlike most other artists, he began learning during his years in college. His passion for music even got him to drop out of college that he had joined to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in commerce. Taking inspiration from his father, like most other artists in his troupe, he started singing bhajans at Jagrans and hasn’t stopped learning and growing in the field of music ever since. With passion and enthusiasm, he began with his performance of ‘Sejiya se’ – 

“Seijiya se saiyan rus gayile ho rama,

(My beloved got upset in his sleep, oh Rama)

Koyal tohari boliya”

(Cuckoo, your voice)

His visit to Lucknow to look for a job lead him to his guru, Baleshwar Ji. He speaks very highly of Guru Ji in terms of music and teaching abilities. For him, it was a life-altering decision as hearing him sing once was enough to compel his guru to ask him to practice and master the art. We had to choose a location that would do justice to his authenticity and perseverance, complementing the original style and meaningful lyrics of the ancient art styles such as Kajri and Chaiti. 

Gomti Nagar was our choice of locality right by the river Gomti that branches out of Ganga. Under a large field of Mulberry trees in the beautifully built Janeshwar Mishra park, we sat with him and got to a lot about various art forms within the spectrum of Awadhi folk. Along with him came highly experienced musicians who have been learning and playing musical instruments even before reaching adolescence, most of them inspired by the traditions in their family. 

Sony Niyazi, the name their Harmonium expert goes by in Lucknow and pretty much everywhere, was the one providing them with harmony through his skills in playing the Harmonium. Originally a Banjo player, who has also mastered the Keyboard, This brilliant musician specializes in Qawali and Bhajan Sangeet.

A brilliant rhythm and percussions specialist, Rakesh Kumar had accompanied him with a young tabla artist, Dulare Hussain, and an excellent chorus and backing vocalist Akhilesh Vishwakarma. They came together as a group, and they know each other inside and out. It was evident in their masterly coordination and rhythmic understanding of how to perform and improvise accompanying each other. The sound of their music hitting our eardrums was just awe-inspiring, and as we heard their beats, we began to flow with the music.  The vocal ability of SP Chauhan coming in chorus in a symphonic togetherness with the band truly gave us the experience of a lifetime.

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