When Pete Seeger sang Raghupati Raghav, Tagore song in Kolkata

  • IANS, Kolkata
  • Updated: Jan 29, 2014 14:42 IST

Soulful renditions of Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajan Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, a jugalbandi with Bengali balladeer Kabir Suman, and singing the unforgettable Tagore song Purano See Diner Kotha, are among the magic moments folk music legend Pete Seeger has given Indian music buffs during his concerts here.

Seeger, 94, died at a US hospital Monday.

The singer who made We shall overcome a global anthem, first visited the city in 1963 and his performances, especially his Raghupati Raghav rendition, left the audience spellbound.

Seeger later told an interviewer that he felt overwhelmed then when he heard the Bengali translation of We Shall Overcome in a little village.

He said he was spotted by a man familiar with his music. "I visited a tiny little village and a man recognised me," he recalled three years back. "He ran and got his five-year-old daughter and the two of them sang We Shall Overcome in Bengali."

Seeger returned to the metropolis in 1996 for two concerts at Nazrul Mancha and Kalamandir.

While people took to social networking sites reminiscing their rendezvous with Seeger, singer Suman, then known as Suman Chatterjee, expressed deep anguish and regret at the "obliteration" of history which he created in 1996, sharing the stage with the man whom he befriended in 1983 in the US.

"Our jugalbandi would have been a cause of celebration in any civilised society. But it was not to be. People at the helm then, ensured this piece of history was never created. No video or audio record of our show was made, neither there was media coverage. A history which an Indian singer had created was sent into oblivion," Suman, now a parliamentarian, said.

"Barring one or two photos, there is nothing to prove that an Indian, a singer from our very own Kolkata, shared stage with a man revered all over the globe. It's a tragedy," said Suman who performed alongside the legend at both Nazrul Mancha and Kalamandir.

Among the three songs that they played together at Nazrul Mancha was the Purano Sei Diner Kotha, which Suman had taught Seeger.

Suman said the jugalbandi show at Kalamandir show was "wonderful".

"Pete and I traded songs and sang duets," he said.

"In one of my songs Pete picked up his banjo and played along while in one of his songs he wanted me to play my guitar as an interlude. I still remember his passionate voice yelling at me, 'Suman, come play your guitar'," the parliamentarian said in his blog.

Famed Bengali poet Arun Mitra, who watched Seeger perform in 1996, had profusely praised his show.

"This was my first encounter with his singing and I travelled in a land of dreams realised as long as his words and his melodies reverberated in me. Pete Seeger's music does not charm his listeners, it awakens them, it urges them to look at their world and the people in it," Mitra had written in a Bengali magazine Desh about the Nazrul Mancha concert.

Later, Rabindra Bharati University invited Seeger for an unscheduled show.

From Around the Web
Sponsored by Revcontent

also read

RIP Pete Seeger: 10 things you must know about the singer-activist
Show comments

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Chrome and Ad BlockPlus users

1.Press the ‘ABP’ icon in your toolbar at top right of this page

2. Click on ‘Enabled on this site’; this should now change to ‘Disabled on this site’


chrome



For Chrome and Ad Block users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Don’t run on pages on this domain’ and then click ‘exclude’ on the pop up


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Mozilla and AdBlock Plus (ABP) users

1.Press the ‘ABP’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Disable on hindustantimes.com’


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Internet Explorer and AdBlock Plus users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock Plus’ icon in your status bar at the bottom of the screen

2.Select the option ‘Disable on hindustantimes.com’


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Safari and AdBlock users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Don't run pages on this domain’ and then click 'exclude'


chrome