BENGALURU: A collaborative album featuring city musician Ricky Kej has won a Grammy. Kej worked with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman to create Winds of Samsara, adjudged Best New Age Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Speaking to Express over phone from Los Angeles, Kej said, “I am extremely honoured, and it is a dream come true. I am still trying to grasp that I have won this award amid tough competition.”
Prakash Sontakke, well-known Hindustani classical musician who plays the Hawaiian guitar, has co-composed two songs for the album. “It is a proud moment for Indian music and especially non-Bollywood music as it has attained such great fame,” he told Express.
Other albums nominated in the category were Bhakti by Paul Avgerinos, Ritual by Peter Kater and R Carlos Nakai, Symphony Live in Istanbul by Kitaro and In Love and Longing by Silvia Nakkach and David Darling.
Sontakke says he feels proud to be associated with a private album that has reached such heights. “It stood first in the US Billboards Chart last year and it was heard well, liked and appreciated by the Western audience. I would like to emphasise that the New Age genre based on Indian classical music is sought after in the West,” he added.
Winds of Samsara, Kej’s 14th album, includes a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
“I will continue to make more and more music that comes from the heart. In fact, legendary sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar was responsible for putting Indian classical music on the world music stage and I am just continuing it,” Kej said.
Making of the Album
The album was recorded over two years by Ricky Kej with more than 120 musicians from five continents. Comprising 10 tracks, it employs 60 to 70 Indian and European instruments as well as vocal elements recorded in different countries. Kej’s collaborator Kellerman did his flute recording in India, Bulgaria, United States, Australia and Africa. The two musicians believe they are furthering the musical, cultural and political connections between India and South Africa, countries linked by Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. The album debuted at No 1 on the US Billboard New Age Chart in July 2014 and continued to be in the Top 10 for 12 weeks.
Ricky Kej (33) was trained as a dental surgeon, but never practised dentistry. He followed his passion for music and made a name for himself in the New Age genre. He has scored music for five feature films, 12 albums, and over 2,000 commercials. A student of Western and Indian classical music, Kej composed original works for the opening ceremony of the cricket World Cup in 2011. He was dubbed an “India Rules Artist” by TV channel VH1 in 2013. Kej was nominated for a Cannes advertising award for a jingle, and his previous album Shanti Orchestra was nominated for two awards in the US.