The prospect of watching an artiste experiment with Rabindranath Tagore’s revered musical repertoire can elicit, by and large, two reactions from fans-scepticism and curiosity.
Isheeta Ganguly, a classical singer who’s been rearranging Rabindrasangeet compositions with R & B, pop and jazz for many years now, is happy that so far, she hasn’t rubbed the critics the wrong way.
“As a policy, I never alter the melodies. I just reconstruct the compositions rhythmically and lyrically to make them appealing to the urban audience,” says Ganguly, who will be performing tonight (May 9) in the city as part of her on-going multi-city tour titled Breakthrough — Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women. Featuring many songs about empowerment and justice, Ganguly is dedicating this tour to women.
“As women, we owe it to ourselves to deliberate about our own choices and decisions. At this show, I will be singing Ekla chalo re, which is a call for action for women, and Damaru, a song that sends out a message of equality,” says Ganguly, who was born in India and raised in the US, Turkey, Japan and Indonesia. She has released seven classical Rabindrasangeet albums so far, and one fusion project.
Her recent releas, Damaru, I Feel Your Rhythm, features arrangements by Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra and Grammy award- winning percussionist Tanmoy Bose. The album also has guest performances by actor John Abraham and tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh.
At tonight’s gig, she will be joined by musicians Ashwin Andrew (drums), Ameya Naik (percussion), Gaurav Vaswani (keyboards) and Sanjoy Das (guitar). Apart from the special numbers on women’s empowerment, she will also present popular tunes like Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive and Nazia Hassan hits, Aap jaisa koi and Disco deewane.
“As a crossover singer, I relate to Nazia a lot. She was an iconic figure, who crossed national and ethnic borders with her music,” says Ganguly, who will also present a Baul-inspired Rabindrasangeet song called, Gram chhara oi ranga matir poth, fused with the jazz standard, Fly me to the moon.