Magazine of the South Asian American Digital Archive

Sounding Out Sanctuary

The soundscape of “Red” is similarly anchored in the piano and strings Anju has traditionally written with, but this time, the piano stutters and the strings swell to capture the grandeur of centuries-long retrospect as Anju conjures the hope that Joshee and Ramabai must have felt leaving something behind to create something new.

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Brown Skin Rebel

As soon as Mandeep got the taste of rap in his mouth, he began developing a vision not only for his own career as the first legit Desi rapper on the airwaves, but also for the creative Desi-American community for which he longed. His uncompromising pursuit of this reality took him from the freestyle cyphers of LA’s Korean-American rap scene to the auspices of the storied Zulu Nation in New York to his parents’ motherland, New Delhi, where he finally found his cohort, only to lose it over the creative conflict that only success can bring.

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Reinventing the Past

If you search for Arooj Aftab online, there are countless articles describing her music as soulful, dreamlike and hypnotizing. Aftab’s work is known for a revolutionary blending of ancient Sufi poetry with modern jazz. Her voice soothes and soars over modern and minimal beats with an approach firmly rooted in her culture. Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Aftab won an online scholarship in 2004 from Berklee School of Music’s online continuing education division. After taking several online courses, she applied to Berklee in Boston, Massachusetts and eventually moved to the U.S. the following year.

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The Duality of Displacement

Mahanthappa’s integrated approach toward roots and identity has made him a natural partner for SAADA. Two years ago, he wrote a piece based on a television clip featuring the Indian singer Kuldip Singh as part of SAADA’s Where We Belong: Artists in the Archive symposium on the overlooked contributions of South Asians. His second partnership endeavor involves the SAADA-commissioned Revolution Remix project, which includes a walking tour of historical places in Philadelphia where South Asian Americans made a pronounced impact on the city and the country. Mahanthappa is one of five artists asked to respond to a specific person and event on the tour with which they are paired.

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