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Exploring musical roots of Nagaland with Tetseo Sisters, Phek artistes

The 8th edition of Living Traditions will feature artistes from Nagaland. Prominent among them are Tetseo Sisters and 20 villagers from Phuk village from the state.

music Updated: Mar 14, 2016 17:07 IST
Sapna Mathur
The four-member Tetseo Sisters will perform on March 20 at Mumbai’s NCPA.
The four-member Tetseo Sisters will perform on March 20 at Mumbai’s NCPA.(Tetseosisters/Facebook)

After showcasing the folk music of states like Rajasthan, Goa and Maharashtra, this year, the eighth edition of Living Traditions is set to feature artistes from Nagaland. The two-day festival will begin on March 19. The first day will feature a performance by a group of 20 villagers from the state’s Phek district.

Titled ‘Without you, nothing!’ the first show mainly revolves around the theme of love, with underlying subjects of war, agriculture and life in Nagaland.

Interestingly, Dr Suvarnalata Rao, programming head, Indian music, NCPA, says that the performers for this show are actually farmers by occupation. “It’s the music of the soil. This festival is an effort to educate people about India’s diversity, and spread the idea of tolerance,” says Rao, who started the festival in 2008.

Watch Nagaland’s Tetseo Sisters perform here:

She adds that the musical shows will also have subtitles for the audience. Moreover, the performances will be “interspersed” with documentary films that will feature interviews and footage from Nagaland.

Read: Shillong singers sizzle in Shanghai

The second day’s highlight is an act by the Tetseo Sisters, who have already gained recognition in India and abroad. A four-member outfit, they have become the cultural representatives of Nagaland over the past few years.

Mercy Tetseo, along with her three younger sisters Azi, Kuvelü and Alüne, started performing in 1994. Their parents taught them the traditional songs, and also how to play Naga instruments like the Tati (a one-stringed instrument) and Khro Khro (gourd shaker filled with beads).

Listen to Tetseo Sisters sing Nothing on you here:

Currently, they do four to six shows every month, and have performed in Thailand, Myanmar, USA and Scotland (at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo). Mercy tells us that they have sung for documentaries and music videos, and have even been approached by reality TV shows like India’s Got Talent. Surprisingly, back home in Kohima, the Tetseo Sisters aren’t always treated like the cultural champions that they are being considered otherwise. “There, everybody sings, and almost everyone plays an instrument,” says Mercy.

Essentially, the festival also aims to highlight the same aspect - the musical roots of Nagaland.