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Founder/Director Ramya's blogpost on her experience at the 2024 Grammys

Updated: May 9

As I ventured through the waterlogged streets of Los Angeles on Sunday, each step felt like wading through a dream. A dream of attending the Grammys since childhood was actually happening. Despite the downpour, there was an electric energy in the air, as if the storm itself was harmonizing with the anticipation building within me. With every raindrop, the excitement swelled, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. It was a weekend where even the heavens seemed to applaud, making the Grammys 2024 a truly magical and unforgettable experience.

As an Indian-born Vocalist (residing in the United States), a Music Educator, and a Member of the Recording Academy, my recent experience at the Grammys has been unforgettable. From watching the once in a lifetime performance of my childhood music idol Tracy Chapman to Joni Mitchell's Grammy debut at the age of 80, and witnessing Raga music solidifying its recognition on a global stage, the Grammys 2024 was an unforgettable experience that I am deeply grateful for.

The Global Music performance / album win is a testament that Raga Music holds a special place not only in Indian culture but also in the broader landscape of global music.

Beyond its historical importance, Raga Music continues to captivate audiences worldwide with its intricate melodies, emotive expressions, and rich rhythmic structures, including rhythms and polyrhythms that have been natural to humans since ancient times.

Raga Music has long commanded respect in the West, influencing various forms of Western music throughout history. Its significance was exemplified by the groundbreaking performance of Indian musician Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi music veena player, who introduced Raga Music to Western audiences in the early 20th century. His family was traditionally Muslim, but he also believed in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. The most popular notion is that the first recording of indian music is of Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan back in 1955 for the album "Morning and Evening Ragas".

In the 1960's, the Beatles made history with their album "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart club band" which had Ravi Shankar influences, Grateful Head drummer Mickey Hart was studying rhythm techniques under tabla maestro Ustad Allah Rakha. In the 70's Mclaughin's Mahavishnu orchestra and Shakti stunned the west with fresh, cross cultural music.

Furthermore, towards the end of the 20th century, percussionists Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram, pioneering and legendary tabla and ghatam players respectively, have been bridging cultural gaps. Virtuoso violinist L Shankar continues to reinvent himself time and again and play crossover music and surprise audiences wherever he goes. Their collaborations with Western musicians have helped introduce Indian classical music to a global audience, showcasing the universality of Raga Music's appeal.

As I watched the legend Zakir Hussain receive his Grammy up close, the first thing he did was to acknowledge the live musicians on stage who played for the ceremony. This act of respect reaffirmed his grace and the example he sets for musicians with his deep integrity and humility.

At the main telecast event of the Grammy's at Arena, witnessing live performances by iconic artists such as Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell was unforgettable. Chapman's music embodies purity and honesty, while Mitchell's songs are renowned for their strong storytelling. On a personal note, as a young version of myself - listening to Tracy Chapman's music had a profound impact on me, and seeing her perform live was surreal. It felt like a full-circle moment, reflecting on how her songs resonated with me then and continue to do so now. Witnessing Mitchell sing "Both Sides Now" especially now after experiencing a fair bit of life :) evoked a tear, showcasing the timeless beauty and emotional resonance of her music.

Being at the 2024 Grammys, which had some moments that made history, has been surreal and unforgettable. The stormy weekend in LA with rains lashing and crowds in black tie, but being drenched, added an element of chaos and spontaneity to the glamorous event.

Looking ahead, the future of Raga Music (and hopefully Folk music from different parts of India), in the West is promising, with opportunities for further exploration and collaboration especially in the hands of our children.

As the founder of "Mukti Music - Connections and Consciousness through Music", and its children's division, "Raga Monsters - Where kids find musical magic", I am committed to fostering a lifelong love for music and promoting cultural exchange. Through education and outreach initiatives, I aim to ensure that Raga Music continues to thrive and evolve, inspiring future generations to appreciate and engage with this rich musical tradition. I invite individuals from diverse ethnicities to learn Raga Music, transcending boundaries, and my hope is for "Raga" to become the next Yoga movement, uniting people across cultures and fostering a deeper connection to music for self expression and spirituality.

About Ramya Shankar

Ramya Shankar, an Indian-born vocalist, educator, and composer, is known for her haunting vocals, signature style and one who seamlessly blends the intricacies of Raga music with different genres of music. She has worked with several Grammy winning artists and has a recording career of over 15 years. Following a decade in the tech industry, she heeded her inner calling and is now a full time Musician/Educator. She founded "Mukti Music," an innovative platform and a great community aimed at fostering connections and consciousness through music

At Mukti Music, Shankar's vision is multifaceted. At Mukti Music, one can learn music at any age ranging from Carnatic Music, Hindustani Music, Film Music, Vocal Jazz standards from the Great American Song Book, to also attending group kirtan chant sessions and meditate as a collective using sound. Mukti Music has the world's first Indo-Jazz choir.

Drawing from her rich cultural heritage and diverse musical influences, she created the children's division, Raga Monsters, as a beacon of creativity and cultural exploration. Raga Monsters offers a dynamic space where children (ages 0-16) are introduced to various music genres rooted in Raga Music, igniting a passion for music and fostering cultural appreciation from an early age.

Through interactive sessions, workshops, and captivating performances, Raga Monsters goes beyond traditional music education. It serves as a gateway for young learners to develop not only musical skills but also empathy, creativity, and global awareness. Shankar believes that by nurturing a deep connection to music and culture, children can become compassionate, well-rounded individuals who appreciate the beauty of diversity.

Shankar's dedication to promoting artistic exploration and global cultural exchange shines through Mukti Music and Raga Monsters. Her innovative approach to music education transcends boundaries, inspiring the next generation of musicians and fostering a sense of interconnectedness among communities worldwide. As she continues to shape the landscape of music education, Shankar's journey exemplifies the profound impact of music in uniting hearts and minds across cultures. Her hope is for Raga to be the next Yoga movement globally - as Raga music has the power to transform one's life and the collective consciousness.

Ramya lives in Palo Alto, Ca with her husband, two sons and pup Laya.

Mukti Music School:

Raga Monsters School for kids:

Website for Independent Music:

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