The UK live music has been thriving since lockdown was lifted, with singers from all genres entertaining audiences.
One of the most unique has been British Asian singer Bhavik Haria. The talented vocalist has taken bhajans to the live arena, connecting spiritual music rooted in Indian tradition with cross-generational audiences, and giving many of those attending solace.
Eastern Eye caught up with him to discuss his forthcoming shows and brilliant way he is expanding the reach of bhajan music.
How much does performing live mean to you?
From March 2020, we have been performing virtually, and it’s been amazing to reach thousands from all corners of the world. However, nothing beats performing to a live audience. The energy, real-time engagement, with people witnessing and appreciating the intricacies of our music is all truly special.
Which would you say has been your most memorable concert?
The most memorable concert has been our Roots & Changes concert in London in February 2022. This was my first-ever bhajan concert in my hometown. Being able to share my favourite style of music in a contemporary way, using unique instruments and western influences to create an eclectic sound, was something unique.
How much does it mean to you that so many come to see you live?
It always has, and still blows me away, that people take time out of their busy lives to come and see us perform live and join me on this mission to ‘keep bhajans alive’. For that, I’m so grateful.
How do you feel performing devotional songs on stage?
Performing these devotional songs on stage fuels my heart and creates such a soulful energy all around. I absolutely love this genre of music. My mission is to make this music more mainstream, which we’re gradually achieving through our recent concerts all across the UK, and hopefully performing, internationally in the future.
Why do you think audiences connect so strongly with your shows?
The beauty of this style of music is that you don’t need to understand the language or music to feel the vibrations and connect with it. It’s an opportunity to put aside any distractions, give your full attention to that moment, and become fully immersed in it – forgetting the outside world for a few hours.
You have people of all ages attending your shows…
Yes, it’s been incredible to see people across different generations sitting in the audience, singing and clapping along, often reminiscing about memories with their grandparents or other older family members who used to sing these bhajans to them. During the shows, we also share stories and meanings behind the bhajans to help the younger generation, in particular, understand what they mean and the stories behind them.
What can we expect from your forth coming shows in London, Birmingham and Manchester?
Bhajans like you’ve never experienced before, a true blend of traditional and western instruments bringing a new dimension to this genre of music without losing its heritage. The music is directed by Kaykay Chauhan, one of London’s finest keyboard players and producers.
What do you think is the secret of a great live performance?
All of our shows are ‘experiences’. The magic is in engaging and connecting with the audience.
You are becoming a music hero for many, but who is someone you admire?
Salim-Sulaiman. Over the last three years, they have worked on a passion project called Bhoomi, which has brought together sounds from all around the world, giving the genres that don’t receive much limelight a new platform and stage to shine.
What inspires you as a musician?
Music has the power to heal the soul and is the perfect medicine for when you are sad, remembering a loved one or even celebrating. Over the past two years, we’ve performed around the globe, and the feedback has been so moving. It just inspires me to continue creating.
Finally, why should we come to your forthcoming shows?
If you have never been to one of our live shows, I encourage you to come and join us. It’s not just a ‘music concert’, it’s a truly immersive experience and you would have never experienced bhajans like this. Just imagine listening to bhajans with a saxophone and violin? Hope to see you there.
Bhavik Haria presents Roots & Changes Live at Harrow Arts Centre next Sunday (29), Mac Theatre in Birmingham on February 4 and The Empty Space in Manchester on February 12. Visit www.bhavikharia.com for more.