Shankar Mahadevan on performing 'Songs of Krishna' in Dubai

Shankar Mahadevan on performing Songs of Krishna in Dubai

By Enid Parker

Published: Sun 4 Sep 2016, 4:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 6 Sep 2016, 8:20 PM

Shankar Mahadevan is an artist who believes in the power of fusion, blending classical tunes with other genres to create awareness and acceptance of traditional forms of Indian music. No stranger to performing on our shores, Mahadevan teams up with his two sons, Siddharth and Shivam, for his latest concert 'Songs of Krishna', to be held on Friday, September 9, at Sheikh Rashid Auditorium, The Indian High School, Dubai. City Times caught up with the musicians recently for an interview.
You're a popular face on the concert scene here in the UAE. How does it feel to be back and performing with your sons this time?
I have performed in the UAE several times, in different capacities and for different genres, right from Bollywood to classical and fusion and each time we've had such a wonderful and positive response. Dubai is such a cosmopolitan hub and it has such a wide range of people whose musical preferences are so varied.
This time, for the first time, I'm performing with my sons in a special concert called 'Songs of Krishna'. I am truly excited about this and because it is Dubai, the excitement is even more.

What is 'Songs of Krishna' all about?
I have always wanted to sing about Krishna because Krishna is omnipresent. If you look at India, with so many sub-cultures, languages, musical genres and people from different backgrounds and lifestyles, you will still see Krishna present in some way. In Maharashtra he is present as Vittal, in Kerala he is Guruvayoorappan, in Andra Pradesh he is Balaji, Rajasthani folk is all about the romance of Krishna and Radha, likewise in Gujarat the garba and raas is also all about Krishna. So we can depict all these cultures and musical genres through a unifying theme, which is Krishna. In 'Songs of Krishna' you will hear Carnatic classical, thumri, qawwali, bhajan, abhang, Rajasthani folk and more. Krishna is such a deity that he encompasses the culture of India and that is what I wanted to showcase.

You infuse your compositions with classical music so it gets more exposure - do you feel classical music is getting more appreciation as compared to earlier and does it have a wider audience now?
Classical music is a vast ocean. It is the root and fundamentals of the music of our country and we are blessed to have two forms of classical music (Hindustani and Carnatic). I would not say that there is a larger and wider audience for classical music but there is always an audience for it.  I believe that classical music need not be depicted in its purest form always. You may be singing popular film songs or rock music and there can be glimpses of classical music. I am more excited about the application of classical music. When you integrate classical music in different genres, it makes the music more interesting and aesthetic. It gives the music more depth.  

An international artist you would love to collaborate with.
The list is endless but if I have to name some they would be Bobby McFerrin, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan.  

Music is a great unifier - how do you feel this upcoming concert will promote a message of peace and harmony?
Music is communication. Through music you can inspire people. You can get them emotional - make them dance, cry, laugh. It is a great medium to communicate whatever you want. And music is positive. Through music you can convey a simple message: Life is beautiful and there should not be any space for negativity in it. Whenever you communicate to people through music, you spread joy, peace, happiness and the idea of enjoying every moment of life.
Is this your first time performing in the UAE? How does it feel to be taking to the stage with your dad?
No, it is not the first time I'm performing in Dubai, I have performed earlier with Farhan Akhtar at the Hard Rock Café and also at the WTC during Dubai Music Week. But this sort of a show is going to be a first for us. It is always a great feeling sharing the stage with dad and we always need to give it our best to come somewhere even close to him. He gives us a sense of comfort on stage and is always a lot of fun.

Are you more drawn towards classical or popular music?
I listen to almost all genres of music - be it classical, rock, pop, jazz, hip-hop, R&B... you have a favourite everyday.

What does 'Songs of Krishna' mean to you?
Krishna to me is a source of love, music and bonding. He is followed by people not only in India but you will find Krishna devotees all over the world and there is a feeling of positivity that he brings among everyone.

Music is a great unifier - how do you feel this upcoming concert will promote a message of peace and harmony?
I think music is the biggest unifier. It just transcends beyond any barrier and is one of the very few universal factors in everyone's life. Just the experience of this concert alone I'm sure will leave the audience with a sense of calmness, positivity, as it's a rollercoaster of a ride.

International artists you would love to collaborate with.
The list is endless! I could fill it up with 100 names just at the back of my mind right now. Linkin Park, John Mayer, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Jason Mraz, The Script to name just a few.
"I prefer songs having a classical influence. Those are the kind of songs I love to listen to and sing the most."

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