East meets West to celebrate frontline workers

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) Multi-Grammy award winning singer, songwriter and producer Joe Walsh and Sarod virtuoso and composer Amjad Ali Khan, joined by his sons Aman Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, recently released a three-song EP titled ‘Prayers’ as a mark of tribute to frontline workers, doctors and social justice groups.
The proceeds will go to IntraHealth International, a non-profit organisation based in the US working with developing countries to improve their public health capabilities
Sonically, the difference between rock and roll and Indian classical music could not be bigger – and it was exactly that which compelled them: What would happen if they came together and let their instruments do the talking?
The result is music that is truly collaborative, and unlike any Walsh has ever created, infused with a spiritual feel.
The two first met while Walsh was visiting India. After playing together at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, Walsh invited them all, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons Ayaan and Amaan, to come to Los Angeles and record with him to see what they could create together.
This EP is the result of the second of those sessions, which took place in Walsh’s home studio in Los Angeles in 2020. In addition to the Khans, Walsh asked some of his friends and members of the Los Angeles music community to participate in the project, including Jim Keltner, Davey Johnstone, Michael Thompson, Nathan East, Stewart Copeland, Joe Vitale and Lee Sklar.
“The time I spend in India is always transformative. My first visit delivered ‘India’ which was on Analog Man. Subsequent visits stirred within me a deeper curiosity for Indian instruments and their music. In spending time with the maestro, I was excited to see how my instrument and his could work together. We were both blown away. It was one of my life’s most treasured experiences.
“The music we created was surely stronger than our individual abilities. It was a spiritual experience to play with the Khans. Everyone there in those sessions was elevated as a result of this collaboration and that’s why we play music. It’s those moments we chase as musicians,” Walsh recalled.
The three songs — ‘Healing Love’, ‘Goddess’ and ‘Hope’ (We Shall Overcome/Hum Honge Kamyab) are the discourse between their instruments and a kind of meditative exploration on the nature of sonoral divinity, drawing from their own artistic traditions, as well as finding common ground of the two musical traditions, which are often held to be radically different.
Through this process of creating and recording, their aim was to preserve the essence of musical traditions that flow into each other without artistic compromise.
Walsh added that by the time he got to work on the tracks in the studio, everyone was in complete lockdown mode.
“The more time I spent with this music, the clearer it became that these tracks had healing properties and needed to be shared as a gift. So, in honour of all the frontline workers who continue to be of such incredible service and courage to us all during these horribly challenging times, I’m donating my proceeds to IntraHealth International, whose vital work for healthcare workers around the world aligned perfectly, ” Walsh said.
“It has been a pleasure and an honour to work on this album with my dear friend, the legendary Joe Walsh,” said Amjad Ali Khan, adding: “Across cultures, as artistes we can understand and appreciate each other and thereby try to heal this divided world, and what better way is there to achieve this ideal than through the joy and spiritual nourishment that music brings.”
“We were in the company of legends. It was a blessing to just be there, observe and learn. To be a part of the process was truly an unreal experience for which we only have the deepest gratitude. Musicians and listeners of music have been communicating with each other across all barriers through this ‘vibration of music’ from time immemorial,” added Amaan Ali Bangash.
For Ayaan Ali Bangash, it was a unique and uplifting musical journey.
“To be in the company of two gurus and icons of music was a priceless gift. I am blessed and honoured to be a part of it,” he said.
“We are so thrilled and grateful to Joe and Amjad for their generosity. Their gift is going to make health workers around the world safer as we battle this pandemic today and build a healthier future for tomorrow,” said Polly Dunford, the president and CEO of IntraHealth International.

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