Sri Lankan musician, Ashanti, on her new album Rock the World and her collaboration with Benny Dayal.
Sri Lankan artiste Ashanti has a string of sobriquets attached to her name. She is affectionately called the ‘Darling of Sri Lankan Music”; sometimes more formally “The Queen of Sri Lankan Hip Hop”. But none impress as much as her distinction of being the youngest and only female artiste from the island to have been signed by an international record label: Universal Music.
Immensely popular in Sri Lanka, her last three albums have topped charts back home. The young musician is now out with her first international crossover album Rock the World launched recently in both the U.K. and India. One of the tracks, ‘Let’s Give Peace a Chance’, was selected as the official song for the De Paix Yatra project, an initiative to promote world peace. The project, launched recently in Mumbai, involves a motorbike journey from India to England honouring peacemakers across eight nations.
Ashanti is no stranger to war and peace. Growing up in Sri Lanka, conflict was a constant reality. With the country now at peace, she realises what a struggle daily life has been. “Things have certainly changed for the better now. Every day used to be a challenge; just going about your daily life was difficult,” she says. Given her childhood, ‘Let’s Give Peace a Chance’ is close to her heart. “The song is an expression of my deepest feelings. There is so much conflict and war in this world. This song was written to promote peace and unity among all nations.” she says.
The track also features Chennai musician Benny Dayal. “When I asked Benny to collaborate with me on this, he came on board immediately. He has added such a unique touch to the track. The song has been created with the best intentions and pieced together seamlessly,” she adds.
‘Let’s Give Peace a Chance’ was officially launched on Indian music channels on August 15. The song talks about a world without any racial or religious barriers and urges people of all castes and creeds to come together.
For Ashanti, the peacemaker, music is the tool. “Music is a universal language that transcends all borders. You can really speak to people through your music,” she believes.
Rock the World has received positive responses as has her performance at the Colombo Music Festival with critics callingher sound “fresh and unique”. Not surprisingly, she sings in Tamil and Hindi, apart from English and Sinhalese. She has lent her voice to the Kollywood flick, Pickles, that was shot in Singapore and British film Tooting Broadway. So, when she says that she’d like to sing for Bollywood, we can’t wait for the ‘Darling of Sri Lankan Music’ to become our darling too!