By Isbah Khalid: There have been many initiatives over the years to establish a platform that serves the ‘coming to common terms’ purpose and most have been really successful in creating just that, This new project, the one we will highlight today is one of a kind and has truly lived up to that agenda. The Dosti Music Project is an initiative of US Embassy Pakistan and produced by Found Sound Nation; the target was to bring together brilliant musical talent from Pakistan, India and USA and create original music. The project is now in its second year and involves a month long residency in the USA. It’s like a fellowship and focuses on finding the common things among all the diversity.
The Dosti Projects invites four Pakistanis, four Indians and two USA musicians whose talent ranges from classical, folk, jazz and some killer vocals. They come together to create, write and compose new and original music and also polish and reinvent the traditional music giving it that spicy touch of ‘today’. The project begins with a three week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and after interaction sessions, getting to know each other’s talents and strong points, the newly born band moves on to more social activities to display the heavenly piece of music they were able to create together. What’s wonderful is that the group can find so much common things although they all come from such different cultures and backgrounds; it’s music that connects them, it’s their passion for it that serves as a common ground and when this project comes to an end, all the Fellows emerge as a member of a new family and not just as an individual artist which is quite exceptional.
The name of the project again is quite significant; ‘Dosti’ means “friendship” and is a common word in both the languages of Pakistan and India. The project was initiated to serve a higher purpose than to just bring some talented people together to create music; it is working for the ‘Greater Good’ and so far is doing brilliantly. That cross- national exchange and trust has been the target all along and by bringing together people how share the same passion this feat can be achieved quite easily and Dosti is setting an example and is now a benchmark for sure.
Let’s have a look at the 2015 Fellows from Pakistan who became a family member of this immaculate project:
Bilal Khan– A producer and a devotee of Electronic music, this guy from Karachi produces electronic soundscapes and is a pioneer beatmaker in his city. A co-founder of the label Forever South he got his talent polished at London where he studied audio engineering. His major breakthrough came when he was still studying in London; he had a release on Studio rockers a label which has seen release from the likes of Eskimo. He has what it takes to set the beats and waves in motion exactly as the composition demands and requires, quite a rare talent!
Natasha Humera Ejaz– This talented singer and song writer has already got everybody’s eyes on her and now she was marked for the Dosti Project. She has trained her voice for over ten years and has the beautiful tinge of Jazz plus Broadway. A splash of electro-pop to that jazzy voice along with that original folk touch of home and we have an unprecedented vocalist! Not only does she sing beautifully and write and compose music, she also records soundscapes and when she not doing any of the above she is teaching music! What a brilliant multi-talented gem!
Imran Fida– Son of renowned folk singer Fida Hussain this man has done his father proud! Originally his father’s student he then went on to Government College Lahore for further training and to polish and enhance his present skills. He is a Sufi singer who channels the immense energy and beauty of Sufism and has a powerful yet controlled voice. Truly a master in the ghazal genre this passionate singer has adorned his home with many accolades. It is not every day that we get to hear such a powerful yet skilfully controlled voice.
Zohaib Hassan– Six generations of Srangi players can only produce brilliance and Zohaib Hassan is a living example. Keeping his family’s heritage alive through his own passion for music he has clearly lived up to all the expectations. Being trained as a kid he made his first professional appearance at the age of 15 and has kept the traditional way of playing sarangi alive that his family adopted; he uses four fingers of his left hand instead of the usual three being used. By using this technique he has achieved agility and speed that is quite a rare treat for sarangi players. He has performed in Europe, USA and South Asia and has many dedicated students all over the world. He is truly a class apart!