24 June, 2021

A Maritime Arc Of Saptaswaras

Young Carnatic musicians, born or living in the US, are shifting base to Chennai as full-time performers

Eastward Flow
Percussionist Akshay Ananth, 29, amid mridangams
Photograph by G.C. Shekhar
A Maritime Arc Of Saptaswaras

Los Angeles does have its music history enriched in the 1940s by the African-American commun­ity that gave way to several bands a quarter century later—and then punk and hard rock. The southern Californian metro was already a global capital of recorded music industry when Sandeep Nara­yan was a toddler there in the mid-1980s, but today the young Carnatic exponent is only happy to have settled in the south Indian city that suits his focal artistic tastes.

Chennai is where the classical musician has made his home for a decade now, having earlier shuttled frequently between the Mediterranean-climate US coast and tropical Tamil Nadu to learn and perform Carnatic that anyway lays stress on his talent: vocals. “To a large extent I was helped by the prodding of my own guru,” Sandeep, 33, says, referring to acclaimed Sanjay Subrahmanyan. “He convinced me that if I was really serious about being a Carnatic singer, I need my feet firmly planted in Chennai.”

So, in 2006, after completing his B.A. in Law and Society, Sandeep relocated from...

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