Multilingual folk fusion band The Raghu Dixit Project has made waves across India and over the world with their brand of eclectic, upbeat music; and on Saturday night they brought their charm to the city of lakes - - Udaipur - - for the first time and won the hearts of the audience.
Performing at Day One of the maiden edition of the World Music Festival here The Raghu Dixit Project literally brought the packed audience at the dusty railway training institute ground at their feet.
Known for his charismatic stage presence, Raghu Dixit, the band's frontman, welcomed the audience with a note on bringing harmony through the confluence of different music traditions, which were exhibited at the event.
Even though Raghu was down with laryngitis for the past few days and was not even sure about delivering his performance at the fest as he himself admitted, the musician surpassed all expectations and got the audience roaring and cheering for him as he sung crowd favourites like "Masti ki basti" and "Jag changa".
The diversity of the event was truly justified when Raghu performed "Kodagana koli nungitha", a Kannada language composition written by 19th century poet - saint Shishunala Sharif.
The crowd's reception to the song was incredible as they immersed themselves into the soothing, mellifluous tunes, irrespective of their awareness of the language.
Raghu further upped the ante by teaching the audience the words of his next song "Lokada kalaji", which is another composition by Sharif.
After a few laughs and goof - ups, the predominantly Rajasthan - based crowd finally caught up with the words and sang along with the band in unison. It was truly a remarkable display of cultural harmony - - university in diversity personified.
Before Raghu took the stage, Grammy winning musician Dobet Gnahore from CÃ´te d'Ivoire enthralled the audience here with her brand of electrifying African music which also incorporated traits from jazz and blues.
Employing a wide ranging of singing from diverse African musical traditions and hitting high and low notes with ease, Dobet delivered a truly enchanting performance, which the denizens of Udaipur will remember for the coming years.
Neither the language nor the musical styles were familiar to the audience, yet they appreciated Dobet and her band, who played an equal hand in making her music grandiose and captivating.
Earlier, Spanish flamenco dance group Juanma Zurano and Tamara began the evening with a spectacular performance, which got the audience moving on their feet. Literally virtuosos in their own right, the duo put on a passionate display of the world renowned Spanish tradition with panache.
Along with the vocal and flamenco guitar in the background, the duo display exemplary stage presence and flexibility while using their feet and hand to create a mesmerising cohesion of passion and dance.
The first session of the day began at the Fateh Saagar Paal with an instrumental quintet featuring musicians from India, Serbia, Netherlands and Iran along with maiden performances from Spanish guitar veteran Jose Maria Gallardo del Rey and world renowned fado singer Carminho from Portugal.
Presented by Hindustan Zinc in association with Wonder Cement and Rajasthan Tourism the festival is conceptualised and produced by Seher organisation.
Day Two of the World Music Festival on Sunday will feature names like Sonam Kalra & The Sufi Gospel Project, Oum, Mathias Duplessy & Mukhtiyar Ali, Papon and the East India Company among others.
(The writer's trip is at the invitation of the festival organisers. He can be contacted at ankit. s@ians. in)