“My music is an extension of my thoughts and beliefs. When people hear my music, they should know what my principles are,” says Ricky Kej, a Bengaluru-based music composer who brought home the Grammy in 2015 for his album Winds of Samsara , that is dedicated to environmental consciousness. Though the musician has visited Andhra Pradesh multiple times, this is his first visit after being appointed as the celebrity UNICEF supporter for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in December this year.
Ricky recently performed at the Visakha Utsav and enthralled the audience on the first day of the festival at RK Beach. Apart from Winds of Samsara , the musician also performed the song One With Earth, a composition that he says was inspired by the farmers of Araku Valley.
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Earlier in July, Ricky toured tribal hamlets in the State for over two weeks. The 37-year-old studied traditional farming techniques and composed One With Earth . The song highlights the importance of natural farming and the need to give up chemical fertilizers. It also features a melodious blend of English lyrics and the tribal dialect.
Speaking of the song that was launched at the United Nations Assembly after the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s address about natural farming, Ricky explained, “I lived with the tribals in Araku Valley and tried to understand their lifestyle. The song is not just about natural farming but also about their simple lifestyle. For composing the song, along with modern instruments I also used the traditional instruments they play to that add a local flavour.”
The idea for the song also came from Andhra Pradesh government’s ambitious plan to scale-up the practice of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) and spread it to over six million farmers of the State by 2024.
Ricky is known internationally for taking a stand about the environment and making music about the threat to Nature. He has released albums like Shanti Samsara, Winds of Samsara and Earth love , which are all about the world and the urgency to save it from destruction. It is not just about making music for Ricky. He has worked closely with the governments of several states to teach students about sustainability through his songs. A collection of 27 songs called My Earth Songs is an endeavour to familiarise school children with sustainable lifestyle and the urgent need to embrace it. The songs are included as part of their English textbooks. “The textbooks also have a QR code. Scanning this with a smartphone will lead the user to the songs,” he says.
Ricky is currently translating these songs in Telugu which will be a part of the school textbooks in Andhra Pradesh for the academic year 2020.