Introducing Kannada classics in rock form

Vasu Dixit.  

Recently, the video of a young, ponytailed man performing outside an eatery in Hanumanthanagar had over 60,000 shares on social media. The amateur video was shot by a passer-by who happened to witness the impromptu performance of a brand new version of Ragi Tandeera, a Purandara Dasa composition.

“What a voice,” the Facebook user had said, also hashtagging the post with ‘#unknown singer’. It was only when the video started getting comments that he realised that the singer was Vasu Dixit of Swarathma fame.

After a stint of nearly a decade with the popular band, the singer is now actively taking Kannada songs — folk and his own — to a larger audience in his own style under the “folk rock” genre. The list of songs he plays includes Basavanna’s vachanas, songs and poems of Purandara Dasa, and works of poets such as Mamta Sagar. Collaborations with other poets and lyricists through the Vasu Dixit Collective are also on.

Apart from an audience familiar with Kannada, he has also taken these songs to the non-Kannada audience by performing in a BMTC bus to and from Manyata Tech Park.

But why does an established singer have to take to the streets to reach out to more people? “I wanted to take these folk songs to public spaces. It is not just about the meaning of the songs. It is also to get [people] to utter a few Kannada words. The culture and traditions of a place are expressed through the language,” Mr. Dixit said.

When he first performed on food street in V.V. Puram in February, he took along photocopies of the lyrics of the song in Kannada and English, and people started singing along.

Next in line are ‘#mane concerts’ — literally concerts performed at home on request. “I want to perform to an intimate crowd for a maximum of 30 people. I will be performing primarily on Kannada songs. The idea is to be an accessible artiste and find new audiences,” said Mr. Dixit, adding that these performances would be without remuneration for now.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 11:35:12 AM |

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