Drop in to this Worli cafe tonight for a Naga musician's album launch gig
A young Naga musician's album launch gig in the city will have EDM beats rooted in the sounds of traditional church music
Alobo Naga in concert
To understand why every second person in Nagaland seems to be a proficient guitarist, we have to travel back in time to the 19th century, when the roots of Christianity were first laid in the state. Several churches were built in that period, dotting the skyline in cities like Kohima and Dimapur, and these religious institutions fostered a tradition of gospel music. That, in turn, led to a long line of locals who picked up western instruments like the piano and guitar to aid the church choirs that performed at every service. Then, from the latter half of the 20th century, youngsters continued the legacy of those musicians in a different avatar, playing contemporary rock, pop and even metal.
"But our influences remained firmly rooted in the gospel space," says Alobo Naga, a 30-year-old musician who will launch Kini, his solo album, at a Worli venue this evening. "Everything that I learnt from the church seeps into my music. It's just that the structure is different."
Music begins at home
Naga continues, "The best part [about Nagaland] is that almost every family has at least one member who knows how to play an instrument. But as musicians, we have fewer opportunities than people in Mumbai and Delhi, especially when it comes to platforms and publicity."
But things are changing gradually with the advent of the Internet, he feels. Bands from the Northeast now have a far wider reach than they had earlier, when word of mouth and the print media were the only ways for them to spread news about their music. This evening's event is a reflection of that fact, since Naga will be joined by another Northeastern musician, Nise Meruno -- "one of the finest pianists in India" -- on stage in front of a big-city audience, with local band Melange opening the proceedings.
Naga's set will include a mix of covers, his earlier originals and songs from the new album.
Given that he says that Kini comprises mainly EDM tracks, it will be interesting to see how his gospel influence lends itself to this completely modern genre. Tonight's gig promises to fuse 21st century sounds with a longstanding legacy that owes its genesis to Christian missionaries that will also reflect on how -- outside of bhajans and qawwali -- religion has played a vital part in giving shape to the country's musical traditions.
On Tonight, 8.30 pm onwards At Hard Rock Café, Worli. Call 24382888
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