PHOTO BY: Sahiba Kaur Chawla
Kiran against the wall:credit-SahibaKaurChawla for web

Kiran Ahluwalia, the soft-spoken financier turned melody queen



New York – Kiran Ahluwalia, the soft-spoken financier turned melody queen is steadily climbing the steps of success with more than half a dozen albums, two JUNO (Canadian Grammy) Awards, two Canadian Folk Awards, the UK’s Songlines Award and peak rankings on the European World Music charts.

Born in India, raised in Canada and currently living in New York City – Kiran showed and talent and passion for music from childhood, and her parents nurtured it from a young age. Walking down memory lane of times when she was growing up in India, Kiran said, “My father would play tapes of Indian music for me and we would also listen to Bollywood on the radio,” adding, “So when a song came on that I wanted to learn, my mother would quickly write down the lyrics for me and I would sing along to learn the melody.”

Her new seventh album, aptly named 7 Billion released last year is a melding of blues, R&B, rock, jazz with Indian vocals.

Kiran performing:credit Swathi Reddy for web
Kiran Ahluwalia/Credit: Swathi Reddy

With mesmerizing spirituality in her eyes, simplicity incarnate Kiran’s own words define her music beautifully: “When you take different styles and merge them together and you don’t want a simple cut and paste then you’re really developing a new hybrid genre. There are blueprints to help you. For me it’s important to blur the musical boundaries between my Indian background, influences from Western sounds and the things I love from West Africa namely Mali.”

“It’s incredibly invigorating when I feel a connection in expressions from different cultures and then figure out ways to connect them seamlessly in my music. Those moments of discovery are nothing short of sublime. It’s really the essence of everything for me,” she continued.

Fusing together the great vocal traditions of India and Pakistan, Kiran’s words and music go beyond crass materialism and speak of: fighting civil wars within ourselves, realizing female desire by throwing away shame, untying knots that bind us to stale embraces, seducing a shy lover, of not having learned how to live, and about rage against the middlemen and institutionalization of religion.

Her new album also features her composition of a 1990s Pakistani Urdu feminist poem – We Sinful Women.

Today’s world of migrant struggles, cultural intolerance and linguistic variations, is well reflected in Kiran’s works. Like Saat (seven) – the title song of 7 Billion echoes the loss of “brotherhood” in mankind.

Kiran says, “It is a theme close to my personal experience. My story is that of an immigrant born in India and raised in Canada. As an immigrant child the hardships we faced were touted as temporary – the effects were permanent.”

“On the one hand, I developed a wonderful double culture – two sets of wardrobe and multiple languages to think in. On the other, I developed conflicting etiquettes and ways of doing things that were neither “fully” Indian nor “fully” Canadian,” reflects Kiran.

“The earth now holds seven billion people; for me this means there are seven billion unique ways of interpreting things. Yet wherever we live, the majority’s way of doing things becomes the norm; and whatever is different and foreign can be easily mistrusted. The consequence in a large immigrant based population such as ours is cultural intolerance and difficulty in embracing newness,” Kiran philosophizes.

Thus Kiran sums up her nomadic global experience which guided her destiny as today she appears on stage as a unique and inspiring performer whose legion of fans continues to grow with every captivating performance. Kiran has toured regularly in North America, Europe and has performed at desert festivals in Mali, Morocco and India. Her music has garnered glowing praise from critics around the world.

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