Shakira loves Indian music. The beats and harmonics of our instruments add to her Latino lineage," says a lesser-known Indian percussionist, Ravish Momin.
The American Indian is one of Brooklyn’s finest jazz artistes and happens to be Shakira’s newest music guru. Momin shared the stage with the Latin star and directed the music on her song, Gypsy, in February this year.
Few months later, Momin’s compositions found their way into Shakira’s new album. This is his induction to pop culture. "When Shakira and I met, we reworked Gypsy to suit the Indian instrumentation. We used tabla, ghatam, sarangi and lots of small-stringed guitars. The best part is that her voice has that range and tone to carry an Indian melody," Momin recounts. He got fellow Indian musicians Rajesh Bhandari and Shamsher Singh to collaborate.
Momin feels his eclectic influences got him the gig. "I listen to everything from This Heat to Ray Charles, Sonny Sharrock to Subhumans. Shakira’s been a fan of Shivkumar Sharma and Sam Rivers and so am I. She gave me a huge discourse on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan," Momin recalls the songwriting process with Shakira — a feat that he insists has been painstakingly creative.
"She has a brilliant range and likes anything Indian and Latin. There are a lot of similarities between South American music styles like Cumbia, Porro and Hindustani. They’re all hot rhythms," Momin says, adding that Shakira’s FIFA song Waka waka is an essential drum-beat rhythm and a cover of a folk melody. "It sounds festive and South American, yet is a global anthem."
Momin, whose roots lie in Delhi, is a second generation American Indian who studied civil engineering. But music has always been his first career choice: "Besides, Indian Indie artists like Karsh Kale are much wanted bar musicians in New York. That is really my true stage to play," says Momin. "It’s great to be an Indian musician in America right now. They all want to sound like us," laughs Momin.
‘Gypsy’ is available to download at www.ravishmomin.com.