Season 1 of Coke Studio Tamil has 8 songs.
Season 1 of Coke Studio Tamil has 8 songs.

From shadows to centre stage, Tamil artistes reclaim what is theirs

Composer Sean Roldan, curator of the project, said it was time these artistes whose voices have been shunned from society took the centre stage and get the appreciation they deserve.

CHENNAI: After being forced to the margins by the classist and casteist society to which they are born into, these Tamil artistes are reclaiming the global stage of music.

Even while retaining their identity, culture and authenticity, they are ready to convey their message of Namma nadu, namma isai (our land, our music) through eight songs composed for Coke Studio Tamil season one which was launched here on Monday.

While the regional iterations of Coke Studio have largely seen an eclectic range of artistes coming from affluent backgrounds, India’s first regional edition, in Tamil, blurs the lines of class and caste by including Oppaari artistes, an Irula band, a transgender Gaana singer, and other folk art forms this time.

Composer Sean Roldan, curator of the project, said it was time these artistes whose voices have been shunned from society took the centre stage and get the appreciation they deserve. “I hope this project pushes other marginalised sections to believe they too can dream.”

Commenting on how the oppressed communities are taking to music to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, rapper and co-curator Arivu said, “I see art and culture as a medicine to cure the contradictions and evils in the society. Returning to the times when we were Adivasis and spoke the language of the forest: we were only products of nature.”

Apart from Themmangu singer Pushpavanam Kuppusamy, Gaana Ulaganathan and Gaana Vimala, Irula tribe band Mullai Kalai Kuzhu, Oppaari performers Mutthammal and Mutthayya, Sufi musician Arifullah Shah Rafaee, others performing are Sanjay Subramanyan, Chinmayi Sripaada, Benny Dayal, Khatija Rahman, Meenakshi Elaiyaraja, Jhanu & Band, OfRo, and storyteller John Pradeep.

When music connects marginalised voices...

Speaking to DT Next about the experience working with these artistes, Sean Roldan said, “Usually when we record songs, the singers come in at different times, record their parts and leave. With these tracks, the singers jammed and spoke to each other and were also able to understand each other’s music and what it meant to them.

“Capturing something raw in its spontaneity was very challenging and interesting. It was like jumping into a pool of fresh water and it felt so rejuvenating.”

Instead of disturbing what these artistes brought to the table, curators Roldan and Arivu tapped into their frequency of music and brought out the message of humanity, oneness, culture, and most of all, Tamil through this project.

“One tree never discriminates against another tree. One bird doesn’t discriminate against another bird. When we are part of nature, we shouldn’t be blinded by caste, religion, and other walls that are built to divide us. This is what we’ve tried to convey through these songs. We’ve worked with people who share the same vision for this project,” Arivu said.

Independent artiste Khatija Rahman, who worked on a song with Arivu, said, “Arivu and Sean hand-held me and also pushed me out of my comfort zone from day one; I think that is what motivated me to give my everything. I have been used to doing melodious and slow songs, but Sagavaasi is different from all the songs I have done.”

Season 1 of Coke Studio Tamil has 8 songs. The first track will release on Coke Studio’s YouTube channel next week, and will be available on audio streaming platforms.

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