The fourth edition of the Jodhpur Riff, a festival that has among its patrons legendary Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger and His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Jodhpur, is all set to take place from October 21 to 25 at Jodhpur.
And this time, along with renowned musicians like percussionist Pete Lockett, Flamenco gypsy-jazz guitarist, Augustin Carbonell, and Indian classical stalwart Ashwini Bhide, Mumbai’s desi soul singer Sona Mohapatra will also take main stage at the prestigious event for a two-hour gig on October 23.
Mohapatra, who has worked on songs with the likes of rock band INXS and pop legend David Bowie, has prepared a special act, where she’ll be collaborating with, and presenting, three Rajasthani female folk musicians.
Says the excited singer, “I met more than 20 different musicians and singers in Rajasthan recently. And every one of them blew me away with their virtuosity! I finally decided to collaborate with three female musicians because I feel women have had a raw deal in the music community.”
All these three musicians belong to different folk genres. Bhavanri Devi sings ancient texts in the
tradition, Roshni sings lok geet and Suraiya is skilled in the Rajwaadi tradition’s
style. And Mohapatra can’t praise these “forces of nature” enough.
“They are not average folk singers, but showstoppers in their own right,” she asserts. “In fact, Bhavanri Devi is such a diva that when she hits a note on the microphone, it can reach an entire stadium with its modulation. When you hear them, you feel that’s how music would have been before money came into it.”
The singer’s solo performance would also be more special this time, because her husband, composer Ram Sampath, will be sharing the stage with her for the first time in India. “He’ll be on the keyboards making sure that the performance is sonically in the right space. He’s also the best backing vocalist I could hope for.”
The singer is also hoping to jam with other musicians at the festival, that’s been rated among the top 20 in the world. “The idea isn’t only to showcase what you can do, but to extend your music,” she says. “The event is the start of a journey of possible collaborations with musicians across the world.”
For music’s cause
Tere ishq Nachaya
singer has aligned herself with the cause of the festival — to preserve and promote local Rajasthani folk music.
“Rajasthan is one of the few regions in India that still has some continuity with the past in its day-to-day life,” she says. “But the lack of patronage is wiping out centuries of this heritage. Hopefully, because of such festivals, the coming generations would show active involvement in promoting these traditions.”