NEW YORK (TIP): The Cleveland Aradhana committee and Jana Seva hosted the Morning Raga fund raiser concert featuring Padma Shri Sudha Ragunathan and six other renowned artists in New York last week. Jana Seva is a New York-based nonprofit organization that aims to construct homes for orphans and destitute children in India so that these hapless children get the best education they deserve and contribute to the development of India. The first such center is being opened in Mullai, Jolarpet in Tamil Nadu.
It is also panning to support veda patasalas (schools of excellence in the study of Vedas) to help preserve the rich and valuable heritage and support Goshalas to preserve sacred cows and prevent its slaughter. The non-profit will also promote the concept of seva among the willing and able youth and offer an avenue for them to volunteer their services to the poor and the needy in India, according to L. Shanti Kumar, a leading CPA in Long Island and founder of Jana Seva.
Sudha Raghunathan, a star among Carnatic musicians in India, was joined in the concert by Amit Heri, the lead guitarist, Keith Peters on bass guitar, Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on mridangam, Raghavendra Rao on violin, Arun Kumar on drums and Guru Prasad on ghatam.
The passion, experience and golden voice of Sudha Raghunathan blending with the dexterity of Amit Heri on the lead guitar and the musical creativity of other leading accompanists created an eclectic fusion of modern and classical music. The concert helped Sudha to have a conversation with her rasikas through the music who have drawn from various nationalities and age groups.
The fusion ensemble was something unique to the Carnatic music lovers of tri-state who are used to the traditional ragam, thanam and pallavi concerts. Sudha started the concert with a sloka followed by the kriti on Lord Ganesha – Maha Ganapathim Manasa Swarami in raag Nattai. She then sang Maathe in dharu varnam in the raga Khamas and followed it up with India Funk in raag abhogi that kept the audience tapping their feet.
She transported her fans to a new world when she sang the traditional number Thaaye Yashodha in raag thodi and after intermission sang the very popular Kannada song – Krshna nee begane baro – and then the popular Telugu number Brahmam okate.
Sudha sang Peace which was Amit’s composition in raag Hamsadhwani and enthralled the fans with the ever-popular English note and ended the concert with Seetha Kalyana Vaibhogame, Bhagyadhalakshmi and Kurai Onrum Illai kanna composed by Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari and sung by M S Subbulakshmi at the United Nations in 1967. She completed the three-hour concert with the thillana of Dr. Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna in the raag Brindavani.
Sudha has a distinctly stunning voice with which she has ignited musical imagination and spirit across languages, frontiers and ideologies.
Her deep relish for tradition and mystical old world charm is cloyingly addictive. As the heir apparent of her guru the legendary M L Vasanthakumari, Sudha has succeeded in holding aloft her guru’s banner while simultaneously imbuing her style with her own innovations such as The Morning Raga.
She was invited to sing Vande Mataram at the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi in 2000 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Republic of India. She was honored by the Government of India with Padma Shri for her contribution to Indian music.
One of India’s biggest names in jazz fusion music, Amit has shared and worked with numerous internationally renowned artists including Charlie Mariano, Robert Miles, Angelique Kidjo, George Brooks, Matt Garrison and Zakir Hussain. Born into a family of percussionists, Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan was initiated into mridangam at the age of six and now he is one of the top percussionists playing for legends such as Dr M Bala Murali Krishna, K J Yesudas, Dr. N. Ramani and those seniors such as late M L Vasanthakumari, Maharajapuram Santhanam, D.K. Pattammal and K V Narayanaswamy. His playing style is characterized by melodic richness, technical dexterity and balanced use of left and right sides. Keith Peters is the best base guitarist in India today and Chennai-based Peters is a veteran of over five thousand live gigs and played over thousand songs.
He worked with composers such as A R Rahman. Raghavendra Rao is the disciple of violin maestro T N Krishnan and has toured all over the world with top musicians. Arun Kumar ventured into the world of drums at the age of seven and plays on the western drums and morsing. Guru Prasad is the son of legendary gatam vidwan T H Vikku Vinayakram and has accompanied all the leading Carnatic singers.