• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Grammy win an unforgettable memory: violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan

Mohnish Singh

By: Mohnish Singh

It was as if time had stopped, says violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan as he recalls walking up to the Grammy stage with his Shakti band members to receive the golden gramophone for ‘Best Global Music Album’.

Shakti won the Grammy for “This Moment”, the band’s first studio album in over 45 years.

Rajagopalan, Shakti’s founder and guitarist John McLaughlin, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, singer Shankar Mahadevan, and percussionist Selvaganesh Vinayakram won the award at a ceremony in the US earlier this month.

“It was like euphoria because time stopped (for us). We had a contingent of 25 people with us so the celebration started at that time. It was like a beautiful moment unforgettable, etched in memory,” Rajagopalan told PTI in an interview.

The violinist, 59, who along with his brother Kumaresh, is a prominent name in the Carnatic music fraternity, is settled in Seattle (US) but has a home in Chennai too.

He credits McLaughlin and Hussain for being the driving force behind the studio album that was created during the pandemic with members sitting in “different corners of the world”.

“We created a drop box so every composition, everything was put on that drop box. After the composition was run, we played layers and layers and layers, so everything was mixed. It was so beautiful that the whole thing came (together) because in the beginning, there was only one line and after that, everything was added one after the other…

“When you hear the music, it’s so beautiful. It all sounds like we were in one studio, seating and playing against each other. It sounds like that now but it was actually played in different parts, from different parts of the globe. So, that’s the power of ‘Shakti’ I think,” he said.

Rajagopalan became a member of ‘Shakti’ in 2019, stepping in as a violinist after Lakshminarayana L Shankar left the group, which was originally founded in 1976.

The musician said Shakti as a band is very special for each member.

“When we get together, the vibration, the energy that Shakti brings in, you will be sucked into that kind of feel. We long for that and when there is a gap, we long for that feel. To be rubbing shoulders with such great people is also one of the incentives of playing with ‘Shakti’.”

Rajagopalan said the band, whose founding members were McLaughlin, Hussain, Lakshminarayan Shankar, and Vikku Vinayakram, “defined fusion”.

“It’s a very unique, special band. That’s how it was formed and after that for about ten years or so and then they disbanded and then after that it came in another avatar and then it got disbanded again, and then another one happened.

“50 years have passed and ‘Shakti’ has also evolved with time and music is so different from what it began and what is it now. It’s so different, so beautiful and it’s evolved with the times, change in members, and now it’s come a full circle.”

Rajagopalan has collaborated with musicians like A R Rahman, Ilayaraja, and M Keeravani in the past and is also the founder of the Eswara School of Music in Portland (US).

An artist, he said he is always open to new ideas in music.

“Music is more like an addiction in a way… From the beginning, I have been fortunate to be playing with the top most people in the world… The stop comes only when you think that you have done it all but I think there is more to come,” he said.

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