Brooklyn Raga Massive’s Rāginī Festival 2023 edition offers a month-long, cross-oceanic immersion into folk, classical, and contemporary art of the Indies, both East and West. Taking inspiration from the term “baithak”, meaning “sitting down”, this year’s Rāginī Festival will be an intimate gathering, akin to a ‘mehfil’, which in the context of South Asian classical music creates a musical crucible - a space where the synergy of the audience feeds into and supports the creativity of the performers.
Mangrove Songs is an evening dedicated to illuminating the plurality of the South Asian diaspora and the artistic strains of ‘Coolitude’. ‘Coolitude’, a term coined by poet and semiologist Khal Torabully, draws from multiple mythologies and histories that reconcile the complex nature of Indo-Caribbean identity, among other descendants of the post-colonial subcontinent. In Mangrove Songs, themes of nostalgia, separation, and communal memory will be explored in a collaboration between singer Pratima Doobay and drummer Roshni Samlal exploring matrilineal Bhojpuri and Hindi folk songs, the poetry of Shivanee Ramlochan, bass riffs by Liany Mateo, and the visual works of artist Renluka Maharaj. The concert will be followed by a dance party led by Roshni Samlal aka DJ Raat ki Rani.
This event is free and open to the public!
Roshni Samlal is a New York-based Trinidadian tabla player who has studied within the Farukhbad, Benares and Punjab gharanas or schools of classical percussion. She is a prolific local teacher and performer, both in traditional tabla solo and classical accompanist contexts as well as a variety of jazz and chamber ensembles. Roshni also explores creating sound design landscapes and beat production as a context for presenting tabla solos. She is the lead curator and producer of the Rāginī Festival which focuses on spotlighting the work of artists engaged in traditional folk and innovative arts within the further reaches of the South Asian diaspora, focusing on Indo-Caribbean heritage. @roshnisamlal | www.roshnisamlal.bandcamp.com
Renluka Maharaj was born in Trinidad and Tobago and works between Colorado, New York City and Trinidad. She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she earned her BFA , and her MFA at The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago in. She has received numerous awards including Martha Kate Thomas Fund, the Presidential Scholarship at Anderson Ranch Center and the Barbara De Genevieve Scholarship. Her works are in institutional collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Joan Flasch artist book collection, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Flaten Museum, special collections at the University of Colorado, Boulder as well as numerous private collections. Her work has been recognized through various fellowships and residencies including Project For Empty Space, Golden Arts Foundation, Fountainhead Residency, Vermont Studio Center to name a few. Her work has also appeared most recently in Washington Post, Elle India, Harper's Bazaar India, New American Paintings, Coolitude Volume II and Juxtapoz. www.renluka.com | @renlukamaharaj
Pratima Doobay is a Wedding Officiant, Ceremonial Priestess, sacred artist, community organizer/liaison, Human Rights Activist, and Daughter to the Magical Universe. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and has been immersed in spiritual, religious, philosophy and cultural arts all her life. Pratima’s lineage is deeply enriched with spiritual purpose and her parents ensured this legacy was honored and preserved in their home. Her Father and Guru, Pandit Mahendranauth Doobay, hails from a long line of Pandits and is an esteemed leader who has established Mandirs (Temples) in Guyana and New York City. Pratima’s Mother, Shrimati Kamla Dhanmati Doobay, is an active supporter and reminder in her journey to remain resilient, and steadfast about how we show up in this world. Together, Pratima’s parents inspired her to take up her ancestral mantle and become the first female in their family to continue this spiritual legacy. @shrideviarts
Liany Mateo, a jazz bassist from Jersey City, NJ, has already studied and performed with some of the country’s top names in jazz. While in high school, she studied under renowned bassist Ben Wolfe. Through her involvement with the New Jersey Performing Arts "Jazz for Teens"program she has been able to work with vocalist, Jazzmeia Horn, saxophonists, Mark Gross and Wayne Escoffery, and drummer Alvester Garnett. Liany has received numerous honors as an aspiring jazz musician. In 2016, she had the honor of performing with an all-star band that included drummer, Jerome Jennings and pianist, Benito Gonzalez in Newark, NJ, Sarah Vaughan’s hometown, during the U.S. Postal Service’s ceremony unveiling of the Sarah Vaughan Commemorative Stamp. Notably, in 2015, she received the Governor of New Jersey’s Award in Arts Education, and was awarded the first place title in the Hudson County, New Jersey’s Solo Strings Competition. Liany is currently studying with the legendary bassist, Rodney Whitaker at Michigan State University where she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies.
Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian writer. Her first book of poems, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting (Peepal Tree Press, 2017) was a finalist for the People's Choice T&T Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. “The Red Thread Cycle”, the central suite of seven poems from her debut collection, won a Small Axe Literary Competition Prize for Poetry (second place), and was on audiovisual display at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Shivanee has received residencies and fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Millay Arts, and Catapult Caribbean Arts Grant. She has served as a poetry reader and judge for Commonwealth Writers, Honeysuckle Press, Moko Magazine, Forward Prizes and others. A Spanish-language edition of Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting is to be published soon. Her second book, Unkillable, on Indo-Caribbean women’s disobedience, is forthcoming from Noemi Press. @novelniche
Rāginī Festival, is a month-long festival of Brooklyn Raga Massive that explores the work of artists challenging systemic patriarchy in the South Asian creative ecosystem. Seeking to provide equitable and collaborative performance spaces, invigorate diasporic community engagement and inclusion, heal the infliction of colonial borders, and amplify the creative voices of non-patriarchal creators, The Rāginī Festival brings together artistic and musical threads from across oceans - retracing the labyrinth of memory and cultural myth-making. The 2023 edition of Rāginī Festival offers a month-long, cross-oceanic immersion into folk, classical, and contemporary art of the Indies, both East and West. Seeking to build threads of connection and also to acknowledge rifts in diasporic identity, Rāginī Festival 2023 journeys through expressions of Surinamese baithak ghana chanting, Trinidadian Bhojpuri folk song, queer “Coolitude” poetics, and South Asian classical music. Learn more about Rāginī Festival here.