Women's Raga Massive: Legacies
6pm doors • 7pm show
Hailed as “leaders of the Raga Renaissance” by the New Yorker and praised by the New York Times for “preserving the past while blurring genres in an inventive spirit,” Brooklyn Raga Massive is a prolific artist collective promoting cross-cultural understanding through Indian classical and Raga-inspired music. Women’s Raga Massive (WRM), an offshoot of Brooklyn Raga Massive, highlights the diverse creative work of female-identified artists, using the Indian classical music tradition as a framework to improvise and draw together influences from the diverse cultures of Brooklyn.
WRM presents a special evening of poetry, narrative, and sound on International Women’s Day. First, poet Sham-e-Ali Nayeem reads from her book City of Pearls over a responsive sonic landscape improvised by tabla player Roshni Samlal and cellist Amali Premawardhana. Then, Kavita Das, author of Poignant Song: The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar, and the members of the all-women STARR Ensemble — whose music blends Indian classical, jazz, Western classical, and bluegrass — present Lakshmi Shankar: A Musical Evolution in One Night, a multimedia tribute to the Hindustani singer who helped bring Indian music to the West.
Join them for a showcase of the vast diasporic multiplicity within the identity of the Indian woman.
Sham-e-Ali Nayeem is a poet, visual artist, and author of the poetry collection City of Pearls (UpSet Press 2019). Born in Hyderabad, India and raised in both the UK and the US, she is a former public interest lawyer supporting economic justice for survivors of family and intimate partner violence. A recipient of the Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship, Sham-e-Ali’s poetry has appeared in Apiary, Dusie, and Mizna, and can be found in anthologies including Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out (Olive Branch Press, 2005), Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak (Beacon Press, 2005), and Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence (Seal Press, 2008).
STARR Ensemble (Sisterhood of Trina, Amali, Roshni, and Roopa) consists of talented women artists from the South Asian diaspora including violinist Trina Basu, vocalist Roopa Mahadevan, tabla player Roshni Samlal, and cellist Amali Premawardhana. Taking from their rigorous training in Indian classical, jazz, Western classical, bluegrass/folk, and other genres, they bring to their music an emotional sensitivity, an authentic approach to improvisation, and an openness to new forms. They are part of the Brooklyn Raga Massive music collective and participate in several other solo and ensemble projects as performers, educators, and collaborators.
Roopa Mahadevan is known for her powerful and emotive voice. At home in many eras and styles, Roopa is versatile among Carnatic classical performers, bringing her strong training under Asha Ramesh and Suguna Varadachari and experience in the Carnatic circuit to her hybrid explorations in genre, text, and theater. Roopa directs the innovative Carnatic choir Navatman Music Collective and leads her own crossover ensemble Roopa In Flux. She is an active member of Brooklyn Raga Massive and is a highly sought-after vocalist and composer for Bharathanatyam and contemporary dancer-choreographers.
Trina Basu is a multifaceted violinist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. She co-leads chamber ensembles Karavika and Nakshatra, and is a side-woman for various creative projects in New York City. She is a co-founder of Brooklyn Raga Massive, is a Suzuki certified violin teacher, and has a BM in Music Therapy. Her expressive sound has brought her to stages around the world, performing with esteemed artists such as Mos Def, Urban Bush Women, Dr. John, and others.
Cellist Amali Premawardhana performs Western classical, experimental, folk, and improvised music. As a chamber musician, she co-leads raga-inspired ensemble Karavika and is involved in collaborative projects and ensembles such as Brooklyn Raga Massive and New York’s Distinguished Concerts International Orchestra. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, she currently serves as the Director of Suzuki Strings in Greenwich, CT Public Schools and highly enjoys inspiring young children with string instruction.
Roshni Samlal (tabla) is a New York-based tabla player who has studied within the Farukhbad, Benares, and Punjab gharanas. She is currently a student of Shri Surdarshan Singh of the UK and is a prolific local teacher and performer within a variety of ensembles. She is a member of the Brooklyn Raga Massive.