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Who is Ricky Kej? All you need to know about Bengaluru boy who won his second Grammy

Apr 04, 2022 11:16 AM IST

US-born Kej has lived in Bengaluru since he was 8.

 

Ricky Kej with fellow winner Steward Copeland (Twitter)
Ricky Kej with fellow winner Steward Copeland (Twitter)

Bengaluru boy Ricky Kej picked up his second Grammy Award on Sunday for Divine Tides, an album he collaborated on with Stewart Copeland, founder and drummer of the iconic rock band The Police. They won in the Best New Age Album category at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards.

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Sharing the news on Twitter with his followers, Ricky wrote, "Won the Grammy Award today for our album Divine Tides. Filled with gratitude and love this living-legend standing with me - @copelandmusic. My 2nd Grammy and Stewart's 6th. Thank you to everyone who ever collaborated, hired, or listened to my music. I exist because of you."

Congratulations poured in for him from across the Indian industry with Benny Dayal and Shreya Ghoshal among those offering their plaudits.  

Congratulations pour in for Ricky Kej (Instagram)
Congratulations pour in for Ricky Kej (Instagram)

The album Divine Tides featured artists from around the world and is a “tribute to the magnificence of the natural world and resilience of our species”. The nomination description read: “This critically acclaimed album contains 9 songs and 8 music videos that were filmed around the world from the exquisite beauty of the Indian Himalayas to the Icy forests of Spain. 'Divine Tides' has already won several awards at various festivals from around the world. With rich textures of transcendent music, 'Divine Tides' is a surreal audio-visual experience carefully pieced together by two masters who are at the top of their game.”

 

Ricky won his first Grammy in 2015 for his album 'Winds of Samsara' in the Best New Age Album category.

With his second win, Ricky Kej joins a rarefied group which includes Ravi Shankar, Zubin Mehta, Zakir Hussain, AR Rahman and other Indian winners. 

Born in North Carolina in 1981, the half-Punjabi, half-Marwari lad has lived in Bengaluru since he was 8. 

He studied in Bishop Cotton School in Bengaluru before finishing a degree in dentistry from Oxford Dental College, also in the city.  He got married to his girlfriend Varsha in 2014.

Most members of his family were in the medical profession. His father and grandfather were doctors, and he struck the middle-class Faustian deal with his parents to let him try his hand at music after finishing his degree.

His mother Pammi believed that his artistic genes were inherited from his grandfather Janaki Das – an actor, Olympic cyclist and freedom fighter.

 

Some interesting facts about Ricky Kej:

  1. He started off as a keyboardist with progressive rock band Angel Dust before he became a full-time composer.
  2. Among his major musical inspirations are Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Peter Gabriel.
  3. In 2015, after he won a Grammy, the first person to congratulate him was Hans Zimmer who also posed for a selfie with him.
  4. In 2010, he was nominated for an award at Cannes for his jingle on Nike. He has created music for over 3000 jingles and even Kannada films.
  5. He loves making jingles and once said: “Making jingles is like a workout. One day, I get to work on a Tamil folk jingle and the next day I get to work on a Celtic jingle and an Oriental jingle on the third day. It keeps you on your toes and helps you extend your creativity. The more I work on jingles the better I get at working with new people.”

6. Despite being born in the USA, he loves his dal, roti and subzi.

7. His favourite actors are Marlon Brando and Eva Green and his favourite read is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

8. He has won more than 100 music awards in over 20 countries.

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