It’s summertime! And what better way to celebrate than with music? In honor of World Music Day on June 21, Bombay and California-based YouTube multi channel network Culture Machine brought together 22 artists to cover a tune titled after a popular Meher Baba expression: the 1988 Bobby McFerrin hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
— Culture Machine (@TweetToCM) June 21, 2014
Who are the singers taking part in this collaborative desi rendition? It turns out that these talented singers hail from Pakistan, India, Zambia, Serbia, Australia and other places around the world. For more details on each one, read on.
1. Aditi Iyer
Nine-year-old Aditi Iyer lives in Haryana and is inspired by Celine Dion and learning opera. Visit her Facebook page managed by her parents for the latest updates on this young singing prodigy. Listen to her covers of power ballads like Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” or Mariah Carey’s “Hero” on her YouTube channel.
2. Mihir Joshi
Singer-songwriter Mihir Joshi’s got the Mumbai Blues — that’s his band’s blues rock debut album. The songs are about everything from traffic jams and potholes to relationships, break ups, and even one about Sachin Tendulkar! The former radio pro also has a bi-weekly YouTube show called The MJ Show.
Raised in Zambia, rapper BlaaZe grew up breakdancing on sets designed by his architect dad (and later went on to participate in a intriguing rap kathak performance). He has collaborated with A.R. Rahman and recently with a Bollywood music channel to help create a video encouraging Indians to exercise their right to vote.
4. Aditya Narayan
Actor, singer and songwriter Aditya Narayan hosted popular Indian reality TV show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge and worked on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela before releasing his first independent single “Tu Hi Pyaar Hai” on Valentine’s Day. You can catch new covers like this one of Pharrell’s “Happy” by Narayan and the A Team on YouTube.
5. Kunal Chaudhry
Singer, songwriter and composer Kunal Chaudhry is an independent musician from Mumbai. Black Couch Covers is his YouTube channel. Chaudhry got into composing and songwriting while in college. He also sings and plays guitar for Sing a Smile. Here’s his most recent cover:
6. East Side Story (Walnut Studios)
Lahore’s East Side Story is made up of vocalist TG King (Tariq Gujjar, a lawyer by profession) and lead guitarist/harmonica player Casim Mahmood (ad-man by day). They blend blues and Punjabi folk, and believe that the genres have much in common. Listen to their Punjabi folk blues sound in their first single “Daaru Di Botal” or in “Darlin Blues.”
7. Jimmy Khan & The Big Ears (Walnut Studios)
Hassan Jamil Khan, popularly known as Jimmy Khan, is a singer and songwriter who formed the collaborative title Jimmy Khan & The Big Ears for all the artists he works with. This acoustic pop band from Lahore, Pakistan, released its first album this year with “Nadiya” as the first single.
8. Kamna Karamchandani
This guitar-strumming artist has been making original music and covering songs like Sarah Bareilles’s “Brave” on her YouTube channel Kamna Karam Music. Kamna performed her first solo acoustic gig earlier this year in Mumbai, and she shares her thoughts in text form at Kamna Readable.
9. Ankita Sachdev
Ankita Sachdev, hailing from Sydney, Australia, feels that “you can never overdose on music” and that’s good because she has plenty of songs in the Bollywood vein to listen to on SoundCloud and YouTube, with Bollywood covers like “Mein Pareshaan Pareshaan” from the movie Ishaqzaade. She also had the opportunity to sing one of her favorite A.R. Rahman compositions to him on TV.
10. Ashwin Kulkarni (Vajra India)
Vajra is a Hindi heavy metal band and Kulkarni plays lead guitar for it. He sports a “Lord of the Strings” t-shirt and head banger style in the band’s videos, including this metal cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” Watch the band perform “Zeher” on TV below.
11. Igor Vincetic (Binta Sound)
Igor Vincetic, from Belgrade, Serbia, is one of the percussionists featured in the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” cover. Vincetic plays calabash, talking drum, djembe, congas, balaphone and kalimba. He visited Senegal, Benin and Nigeria, where he learned and played with percussion masters. His song “Thank You Femi” is dedicated to famous Nigerian afrobeat musician Femi Kuti.
12. Vasuda Sharma
The charming ukelele player in the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” collaboration is Vasuda Sharma. Check out her a capella skills in her version of 50s Bollywood track “Hai Apna Dil To Awara” or this pung-tastic mash-up of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and “Oye Oye.”
13. Aadar Malik
14. Nirdosh Sobti
Guitarist and vocalist Nirdash Sobti has been on music-based reality TV shows in India. He was one of the winners of MTV Rock On’s first season and recognized for his guitar skills. Also, his ISKCON devotee rock band Madhavas won third place in the third season of India’s Got Talent.
15. Chintoo Bhosle
Chaitanya (Chintoo) Bhosle was part of the Indian boy band called (what else?) A Band of Boys, with #20 on this list. Chintoo was born into a musical family as the grandson of legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle. Watch him in this cute Marathi performance with his grandmother and check out his intriguing mash-up of “Jamaica Farewell” and retro Bollywood song “Koya Koya Chand.”
16. Sarthak Mudgal
Sarthak Mudgal started playing tabla at the age of 3 and plays classical tabla on the guitar. He calls it guitar percussion. He also jams on his guitar while smashing eggs on his head. He calls it Eggtar. As he says on his Facebook page, “I don’t believe in the technicalities when it comes to playing because all i believe is that FEEL is the most integral aspect of music.”
17. Vivek Rajagopalan
Blending Carnatic, Hindustani, jazz, folk, electronic and drum‐n‐bass, artist Vivek Rajagopalan features global and indigenous influences on his album in progress called Music Prayer Rhythym People. The bilingual track “Chakita Dang” is a collaboration with his friend C.K. Loy and the video for it features the shadow puppetry work of puppeteer Anurupa Roy.
18. Ravi Iyer
Ravi Iyer plays on a two-necked guitar called a vravi. According to his website, it’s specially designed and custom handcrafted to enable him to play on Indian as well as western tuning. His favorite musical styles as reflected in his playing are rock, jazz, hindustani and carnatic classical styles. He has released two albums — Rocking Raga (2003) and Bends (2013).
19. Prajoth D’Sa
Hailing from Udupi, software engineer Prajoth D’Sa is passionate about singing and popularly known as the “Sonu Nigam of Coastal Karnataka” according to his website. To listen to some of his a cappella stylings and Bollywood covers, catch him on SoundCloud.
20. Karan Oberoi
Karan Oberoi should be a familiar face to Indian TV viewers from his work as an actor (Dishayen, Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin), anchor and part of the Indipop boy band A Band of Boys. (#15 on this list Chintoo Bhosle was in the band with him.)
21. Faraz Sohail
Sohail is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the group Wajood (Urdu for “existence”). Visit the band’s Facebook page for news about upcoming gigs in Mumbai and other cities. Sample their sounds on Wajood’s YouTube Channel.
22. Sheldon Pereira
Sheldon Pereira started singing at age 17 with his first band. Today he is the lead singer of the band The Wild Side and gets a kick out of performing in front of an audience. After studying and working around the world Pereira was inspired to write a song about India because there’s “no place like home.”
Find Pavani on Twitter at @_pavani.