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Shankar Mahadevan: No words, materialistic pleasure can compete with this feeling

Updated on: 06 February,2024 06:16 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sonia Lulla |

Cinching his first Grammy Award as part of the fusion band, Shakti, Mahadevan expresses gratitude for his country; dual award-winner Chaurasia says winning album’s diverse genres gave it an edge

Shankar Mahadevan: No words, materialistic pleasure can compete with this feeling

Selvaganesh, Rajagopalan, Mahadevan at the awards night

Indian artistes gave the countrymen several reasons to celebrate on Monday morning as they made India a talking point at the 2024 Grammy Awards. “India, we are proud of you, India,” roared Shankar Mahadevan on the global stage, where he turned up to collect the award on behalf of the fusion band Shakti, the pentate, also comprising John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Ganesh Rajagopalan, and V Selvaganesh.

“This feeling cannot be replaced by anything else. It can’t be described in words or [be replaced] with materialistic pleasures. When our names were announced on stage, it was like experiencing a trance. Since Zakir Hussain ji was backstage, [after] receiving another award, he couldn’t join us. But we went on stage, and I gave the speech,” shares Mahadevan with mid-day, recalling how he extended his love for his fellow bandmates and dedicated his win to his wife, “whom every note of my music is dedicated to”.

Hussain, Meyer and Chaurasia accept the Global Music Performance award. Pic/AFP
Hussain, Meyer and Chaurasia accept the Global Music Performance award. Pic/AFP

“I am someone who is overjoyed with the smallest achievement, and likes to share it with people. This is one of the biggest awards that a musician can get, and to get it in the presence of such an august gathering felt surreal. The feeling of being from India grew deeper. This win signifies that Indian music is reaching out globally, and is being loved and appreciated by a global audience,” he tells us from Los Angeles. 

Prod Mahadevan about what gave this album an edge over its competitors, and he says, “When you consider the category that we won in, you’ll realise that it is global music. There is no music that can be more ‘global’ than ours. One of our members is from France, another is from California, one is from Mumbai and two are from Chennai. This is in every way a global music album with [great quality] musicality.”

The win marked the third that evening for Hussain, who had already won laurels for cinching the titles of Best Global Music Performance (Pashto), and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album (As We Speak), a piece by Hussain, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and featuring Rakesh Chaurasia. “The feeling of joy is yet to sink in. The Grammy declarations take place only during the ceremony, and are highly confidential exercises. It’s only been a few hours since it was announced, and a sense of joy and pride has engulfed us,” says Chaurasia in an e-mail interaction with mid-day, moments after his win. “More than the joy I feel for myself, I feel proud of winning this as an Indian musician. This is the first time I have been nominated, and to win two Grammys is [fantastic]. It’s surreal and overwhelming to win it for my country, and I thank everyone who has been part of my journey.”

Chaurasia believes that the album’s diverse genres worked in its favour when it came to the final leg of the competition. “It has bluegrass, jazz, and Indian classical, and we were able to understand the crux of each genre before we created the melodies. All the songs were recorded live. Pashto was composed by Ustad Zakir Hussain ji. This was a piece that he had listened to in his childhood. With the addition of bluegrass from Bela Fleck, jazz from Edgar Meyer, and Indian classical with [my] bansuri, it took on a [different] shape and form. Pashto is a seven-beat cycle composition. It is the amalgamation of the bansuri, tabla, banjo and bass that gave rise to this beautiful melody,” he says, expressing his gratitude to “my guru, the legendary bansuri maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia ji”, for his success.
Taylor Swift took home the Album Of The Year title, while Billie Eilish won Song Of The Year.

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