So it starts kind of like this: an Indian girl born and raised in Canada decides to take up a decidedly Hindu instrument and is taught by a Scottish gentleman of Irish heritage who himself learned from an ex-patriot Muslim living in California. It only makes sense then that Meghana Bhat would inherently appreciate the value and charm of the thousand nuances associated with intercultural music collaboration; and why she would describe it best, as being absolutely cool.
She attended a classical Hindustani sitar concert when she was 10 years old by Ustaad Shahid Parvez, and never looked back. After high school, she spent a summer in India where she met her inspiration Ustaad Shahid Parvez and as Indian custom would dictate, auditioned to become his "shagird", or very devoted student. During her summer breaks from University, she applied and received a number of Alberta Heritage scholarships which enabled her to travel to India and learn from him in a strict and disciplined environment.
But being born and raised in North America, and sharing the same Western sensibilities as her friends who were of European descent, it became apparent that she embodied the "rasa" or soul of Hindustani music, but could jam like any other musician to a 4/4 beat. So she began collaborating with musicians who performed music of all genres; from Klezmer and folk to hip hop and rock. She was featured as a musician on several CDs produced by many well recognized bands, including the Plaid Tongued Devils, Andrea Revel and Calgary's most popular busker, Tomko Lamb. She even participated with a well known Canadian Beat Boxer "Jugular" at the 2001 Urban Street Festival held in Toronto.
She has played Folk Festivals in Calgary, and Jasper, in countless small cafes and large cafes, large classical venues in San Jose and New York, and even took part in on-stage reggae collaboration in Pittsburgh, to a very receptive and loud audience. She is equally comfortable playing soulful folk and stage hopping with hot glam rock stars.
And then one day, she decided it was time to try it on her own...
Enlisting the help of Krisjan Leslie, Meghana recorded her debut CD "an indocarbonated funk" featuring 10 original musical works that illustrate and make obvious her classical training, while arranging it to keep the music accessible. Keeping the sitar the principle instrument, she is able to demonstrate why the sitar can be more than just an incidental instrument in arrangements for its unique sound quality. Instead, she explores more up beat styles from trip hop to folk to bhangra to a more traditional "dhun", the whole time engaging the listener.
It's tempting to resort to images of flying carpets, Yogi's and hippie drug culture when you hear sitar in ambient music; so Meghana decided to add other elements, because it just might be her time to contribute a little to the evolution of Canadian music. She, her Scottish teacher, her Muslim Ustaadji, and her Canadian friends would agree.