I first heard Falu at a concert in a yoga studio, about 6 years ago. There was a buzz about her then, but her presentation was quite different. Falguni Shah (Falu) seemed bird-like, fragile and shy although her voice was strong and assured. Over time, I was sent a CD and I kept track of her in an oblique way, as her various publicists kept me informed. Everyone knew she was talented, but I personally never felt that the package was quite right. Now, with the release of the independently produced Foras Road, I think she has found a production sound that fits her artistic explorations, and is the right setting for her fine voice. Kudos to producer and bass player Danny Blume for that.
Not that Falu hasn't had her triumphs in the intervening years; she has done her share of high-profile gigs playing with her band for the Dalai Lama, President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She has collaborated with the likes of A.R, Rahman and Yo-Yo Ma. She emerges now as a sleek, confident performer with a devoted following both within and outside of the Indian community.
Her sound, as you will hear, is a mix of different worlds. In this song "Ghumar," for example, a Dhol drum pounds out a bhangra beat, while a Givson (no that's not a misprint, it's not a Gibson) mandolin provides the textural ear candy as Falu's sinuous voice hovers and dips through complex, compelling melodies. The lady has chops, for sure, honed by a lifetime of rigorous study with various Indian vocal gurus.
The Highline Ballroom was packed, and this video was taken from the balcony, so I was thankful for the zoom on my camcorder. And besides "Ghumar" there were several real standouts from the show as well; "Savan" was a deeply sensuous song of longing accompanied by the versatile Mark Tewarson on dobro, injecting a languid, country blues feel. In "Eastbound," Falu utilized the taan technique, a kind of scatting, in a rapid-fire exchange with the tablas of Deep Singh. For "Bahaar" Falu brought out an actual string quartet to perform on stage with her, and it worked beautifully. The band itself was tight and spirited, rounded out by the excellent David Sharma on kit drums, Soumya Chatterjee on violin, and Gaurav Shah on harmonium and vocals.
I had invited my niece Rachel to the concert, whose ears are quite open, but whose contact with Indian vocal music has been minimal. On the way home she asked me "Why is it that when we hear a voice singing, we feel such a direct physical and emotional connection?" While the answer to this question may seem axiomatic, the fact that she raised this issue speaks volumes about the caliber of Falu's performance.
The performance at the Highline was co-sponsored by the Indo-American Arts Council, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 arts organization whose mission is to showcase and build an awareness for performing, visual and literary arts from/of/about the Indian subcontinent.
For more information about Foras Road the CD, and Falu, visit: falumusic.com
For more information about the Indo-American Arts Council visit: iaac.us
For more of Michal's world music videos visit inter-muse.com.
I first became acquainted with Sonya Mazumdar as a voice at one end of a US-India Skype session about Link's licensing of "Laya Project" a dazzling musical journey around the areas devastated by the massive 2004 Tsunami. The newly formed Indian production company and record label EarthSync India had just released the film as its first endeavor. The haunting travelogue garnered honors over the intervening years, and when EarthSync launched its spinoff website IndiEarth Sonya contacted me again to see if I would allow their site to stream some of my relevant videoblogs. But of course I would!
Then, many months later (yet still rather suddenly) came an invitation from Sonya to attend the first IndiEarth XChange in Chennai. Rarely one to refuse an invitation to a new place, I found myself taking the long trip to Southeast India, to report on another maiden voyage from the young, pioneering Earthsync/IndiEarth. This time it was a meeting of international and local media, with film screenings and musical performances, along with panel discussions and networking to be held at the Park Chennai Hotel. It was an ambitious project (intended to be a prototype) requiring its own networking and funding, plus massive coordination. The aim was to lay the foundation for a network of dedicated professionals supporting independent music and cinema in India.
It was a hectic three days, and the large turnout participated in vigorous panels about the obstacles and opportunities for music and film in Southeast Asia and Oceania, as well as the remarkably varied musical fare. What made it exciting for me, was the un-Western media presence. Aside from Indian, there was a significant Australian media contingent. In particular, the magnificently feisty Kate Welsman an Australian Public Radio deejay was quick to point out that there was a noticeable shift in markets of all kinds from West to East, and music was a part of that market. It made sense. At the same time it was also made clear by both the musicians and film-makers, that the audience demographics for Southeast Asia needed to be cultivated, and weaned away from a straight diet of Bollywood, which still holds the business reins in a rigidly controlled grip.
For my part, I ran around taking as much video as I could, and focusing of course, on music. But I simply could not catch it all. So what you are seeing in my video is just a wee fraction of the music that was performed in the lobby, bar, main stage and other impromptu venues.
In all, I was very excited by the spirit of IndiEarth Exchange. The people who were gathered together were bright, creative, energetic and pro-active. I felt challenged and stimulated, as well as entertained. I believe something will come from this. It may not come immediately, but it will come.
For more information about EarthSync India, visit earthsync.com.
For the complete performance of song by Parvathy and Lakshman Das Baul, click here.
For complete song by Karthick Iyer, click here.
For more of Michal's world music videos visit inter-muse.com.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, LinkAsia will offer paid internships beginning Summer 2013 and into the 2013-2014 academic year. Students selected to serve as interns will also serve as LinkAsia ambassadors when they return to their college campuses. Please feel free to circulate this posting through your networks. We will be accepting submissions through Monday, March 25th, 2013.
LinkAsia Student Ambassadors is a year-long internship program that provides undergraduate and graduate students in Asian Studies the opportunity to apply their academic learning in a professional journalistic setting. The program provides year-long mentorship, leadership development, journalism training, and hands-on experience creating a dynamic weekly television series. Offered to seven college students each year, the program includes a two-day intensive workshop in San Francisco, followed by a ten-week paid summer internship at LinkAsia’s San Francisco and Washington DC offices. Following this summer experience, LinkAsia Student Ambassadors will return to their individual campuses to engage their communities around Asia through the content of LinkAsia.
LinkAsia Student Ambassador
Job Description and Qualifications
KCETLink is looking for qualified students to become LinkAsia Student Ambassadors for the summer of 2013 and the 2013-2014 academic year. This is a paid internship opportunity, although students have the option to waive payment.
Link TV uses media and the power of stories to engage, inform and inspire its audiences to participate in transformational, sustainable change on issues of global importance. Link TV is operated by KCETLink, the new independent public transmedia organization formed by the merger between KCET and Link Media in December 2012. KCETLink is a viewer-supported 501c(3) organization. For more information please visit www.LinkTV.org or www.KCET.org.
From Beijing to Tokyo, from Seoul to New Delhi and beyond, LinkAsia takes viewers into media about Asia -- from Asia -- offering unfiltered insights into one of the most diverse, fast-paced regions of the globe. Each week, LinkAsia brings you a unique half-hour program that combines everything from the official state news from Asia's top television networks to the trends and conversations rising through Asia's blogs and social media. Viewers can access LinkAsia on LinkTV (DIRECT ch 375/DISH ch 9410), on KCET in Los Angeles, on public television’s WORLD Channel, and online at www.LinkAsia.org.
Ambassadors will spend 10 weeks working at KCETLink’s San Francisco office and in the LinkAsia studio. The internship will begin on June 10, kicking off with a 2-day workshop that will include orientation, grassroots leadership training, shadowing staff, guest speakers and technical instruction. Ambassadors will receive the unique opportunity to work in editorial selection, translation, production, script writing, and creating blogs and pieces for broadcast during their 10-week tenure in San Francisco. After the 10 week internship, Ambassadors will go back to their campuses and work to create awareness of LinkAsia. As this is a YEAR-LONG commitment, Ambassadors will be provided with mentorship from a LinkAsia staff member, who will check in with them throughout the year, and help them craft their own grassroots efforts to raise awareness about LinkAsia on their campus. Examples include: organizing a guest speaker to visit their campus, reposting LinkAsia materials on social media. Upon completion of the year-long program, Ambassadors will receive an additional stipend.
- Bilingual strongly preferred (English and an Asian language)
- Must be able to travel to San Francisco and arrange housing independently.
- Must be able to make a year-long commitment (Summer 2013 and Academic Year 2013-2014).
- Freeman Scholars highly encouraged to apply, Non-Freeman Scholars and bilingual Asian language speakers also welcome.
How to Apply
Please submit your resume and cover letter explaining why you want to be a LinkAsia Student Ambassador toLinkAsiaAmbassador@linktv.org. Please also include a self-made video explaining in both English and primary Asian language the reasons for your interest in this internship. Please post to YouTube or other video hosting site and provide a link in your cover letter. Submission deadline: Monday, March 25th, 2013.
Q: What exactly will I be doing as an intern for LinkAsia?
A: Our interns make valuable contributions to the show every day. They monitor and translate social media from China and Japan, they blog about issues that matter to them, and they occasionally write and shoot their own contributor pieces covering top stories in Asia. Our LinkAsia Ambassadors will also have an opportunity to work on their journalism skills. And we're hoping to provide resources that will help selected candidates prepare for their career. Here are a few examples of contributions from our current interns:
Yohei, our intern from Osaka, Japan, had a personal connection to LinkAsia's coverage of a global soccer match-fixing scandal linked back to Asia. He offered his own take on the scandal from the point of view of a Gamba Osaka fan.
And Jing, from Beijing, China, founded the blog Ministry of Tofu, and is now learning the ropes of broadcast and online video production at LinkAsia. Last year she was blogging about the criticisms of Chinese lawmakers photographed flaunting expensive high fashion products during China's People's Congress. This year the People's Congress tried to scale back on spending, and Jing advanced to making a video about the changes.
Our LinkAsia Ambassadors will also have an opportunity to work on their journalism skills. And we're hoping to provide resources that will help selected candidates prepare for their career.
Q: I don't speak an Asian language. Does this automatically disqualify me from being selected to be a LinkAsia Ambassador?
A: No! We are considering all applicants for LinkAsia Ambassador. Knowing whether or not someone speaks an Asian language helps us match applicants to projects. For example, someone who is fluent in written and spoken Mandarin can help us research stories on Sina Weibo, or someone who is fluent in Thai can help us translate Tweets from Thailand. However, someone who is an English speaker only might be matched with post-production, outreach, or collaborating with a non-native English speaker on projects.
Q: What exactly will I be expected to do for LinkAsia once I return to campus in the fall?
A: Most of our LinkAsia interns leave San Francisco with a deeper understanding of how media works. And they kind of get the hang of how to put together their own stories. They also begin to understand how LinkAsia can be a resource for people who are studying Asia. So, during their 10 weeks in San Francisco LinkAsia Ambassadors will develop their own unique plan for continuing to work with LinkAsia once they head back to school. We're open to ideas. You may want to continue writing blogs and find a way to repost your stories on a university news site. Or maybe you're more interested in planning events and want to see someone who was a guest on our show give a talk on campus. We've also worked with professors and classes as mentors remotely, answering any questions students have about what goes into creating an international news program. As part of the terms of the grant, we will expect you to fulfill this portion of your commitment, but it may look different for each ambassador.
Q: I've never made a video introduction before. What exactly do you want us to post on YouTube?
A: The LinkAsia Team uses applications like Skype and Google Hangout quite a bit to talk with show guests and contributors. Most team members are also comfortable editing video content for web bulletins for the Link TV News App, or for the weekly episodes of LinkAsia. We're asking for video introductions to test your ability to be on camera and produce your own content. Keep your introductions simple, and tell us a bit about yourself. Feel free to get some help from your tech savvy friends who can help you finish and post the video. Use your mobile phone, camcorder, or your webcam to shoot your video. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo have very in depth help sections if you get stuck
Myanmar's Rohingya population has been suffering greatly since sectarian violence broke out in the state of Rakhine, also known as Arakan, in June. The riots began with the alleged rape and murder of an ethnic Rakhine girl by men who were reportedly Muslim, triggering a backlash by Rakhine's Buddhist majority on the Rohingya, in the form of massacres and arson attacks on homes, mosques, and businesses.
Official reports from Myanmar's government have kept the death toll at about 80 since June, but estimates from rights groups say that hundreds, if not tens of thousands, have been killed, and the UNHCR estimates that 80,000 have been displaced, either internally or as refugees to Bangladesh and other countries.
Link TV's LinkAsia has covered the developments concerning the Rohingya since the unrest in June, but the plight of the Rohingyas has also garnered much attention in the Middle East, namely because the group suffering from persecution is historically Muslim. And although the violence in Rakhine State was targeted at Rohingyas, it was also directed towards Muslims in general.
Mosaic has focused on the Middle Eastern and Muslim angles of the conflict, such as Bangladesh's rejection of Rohingya refugees, protests by Iranian students in front of the UN office in Tehran, and the many demonstrations in Indonesia, where Muslim activists in Jakarta have called for Myanmar's suspension from ASEAN, the expulsion of the Myanmar ambassador from Jakarta, and more international action on the issue.
The Rohingyas have been considered foreigners in Myanmar for decades. In 1982, the government passed a law that effectively rendered them stateless. Myanmar considers the ethnic group of 800,000 to be British colonial-era illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, calling them "Bengali Muslims" in official releases. However, Bangladesh, a majority Muslim country itself, considers the Rohingyas to be Burmese, and has sent boatloads of refugees back to Myanmar, citing a dearth of resources. Bangladesh has also prevented humanitarian aid groups from continuing to work with the Rohingyas, fearing that the provisions would draw more refugees to the already-impoverished country.
Two of ASEAN's largest Muslim-majority countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, have offered to directly assist the Rohingyas. Indonesia, which boasts the largest Muslim population in the world, has also vowed to raise the topic of the Rohingya at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's next summit in Mecca next week. Saudi Arabia, which hosts the OIC and reportedly has a Rohingya population of hundreds of thousands, recently condemned Myanmar for what it called the Rohingyas' "ethnic cleansing," and the OIC's Turkish chief, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, has followed suit.
Unfortunately, countries and organizations willing to help are finding the refugees difficult to reach. Myanmar and Bangladesh have both restricted aid to their Rohingya populations, leaving the displaced people to fend for themselves. Some Burmese groups have skirted the issue by collecting money for the Rakhine "fire victims," without mentioning the sectarian violence that led to the fires. However, with a severe dearth of food and medical services, Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons are currently struggling to survive. This scene is sadly all too similar to the persecution they have suffered for years, with a similar lack of international empathy.
Image: Amena Akter, a Rohingya from Myanmar cries as she holds her six-day old son, Sangram in the office of the Bangladesh Coast Guard in Teknaf June 19, 2012: REUTERS/Andrew Biraj