Prahlad Singh Tipanya is one of the most popular and highly honored folk singers of North India. He lives in Lunyakhedi village, near Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, where he was born in 1954. Playing the 5-stringed tambura and percussive kartal as he sings, he is joined by five fellow musicians who play dholak (two-headed drum), violin, harmonium, and small finger-cymbals while accompanying him in singing. The “Kabir Ensemble” toured the U.S. in 2003 and 2009, to great acclaim. [See video of their 2009 performance in Austin, Texas, here.] Tipanya and his team sing the poetry of Kabir, the great iconoclastic mystic of North India, in the vigorous and joyful folk style of Madhya Pradesh’s Malwa region. From his beginning as a village schoolteacher with no musical background, Mr. Tipanya has risen to receive the Padma Shri award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Indian government. Linda Hess, a professor of religious studies at Stanford University, will present translations of the powerful poetry that the musicians will perform.
photo: © Kedar J Desai
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