The Telegraph: Shakti band member Ganesh Rajagopalan on their Grammy win for This Moment album

Ratnalekha Mazumdar writes:

Fusion band Shakti is composed of Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, V. Selvaganesh and Ganesh Rajagopalan.

Fusion band Shakti — featuring tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, British guitarist John McLaughlin, composer-singer Shankar Mahadevan, percussionist V. Selvaganesh and violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan — turned global attention to Indian music by winning the Global Music Album award for their album This Moment at the Grammy Awards 2024. The Telegraph Online spoke to an elated Ganesh Rajagopalan on his childlike excitement at the awards ceremony held in Los Angeles, the brotherly love among the Shakti band members, and the use of technology in music.

What was your reaction when Shakti’s name was announced at the Grammy Awards 2024?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: That moment was all about pure, unalloyed joy and happiness. I felt like a small boy again! Later, I saw my social media team posting pictures of me jumping with joy. I felt like a teenager. I recalled my teen years when we had performed for astronauts like Rakesh Sharma for a special concert, organised by the Tamil Nadu government.

The album, This Moment, was created during the pandemic. Did it ever cross your mind that it could win a Grammy?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: Oh, not at all. We didn’t think about it at all at that time. Johnji (McLaughlin, Shakti band member) said music can heal. He said that as we were going through a tough situation, it was very necessary. It turned out to be true as it brought so much love. Johnji loves Indian music. Indian music has received global recognition and love.

In the Shakti band, how do you feed off each other’s energy?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: Zakir Hussain has always been a mentor and the go-to person. He has been a guiding light. Shankar Mahadevan is encouraging, with a lot of positive energy. V. Selvaganesh is more like a brother. We have worked together and he has been a great buddy. Johnji is a miracle man, known for his hard work, steadfastness and genuineness, his quality of perfection and his integrity to bring out the best. The way he holds the guitar, the way he conducts, the way he eggs on, the way he leads the team — everything is inspirational.

What does Shakti stand for you?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: Shakti is more about the love and affection that we band members have for each other, the amazing brotherhood, the fun, the joy and a lot of merrymaking. It’s beautiful when we go on a tour. We love to spend time together.

After the big win at the Grammys, did you get a chance to party or is it pending?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: Johnji wasn’t there on the awards night and there was a big storm in Los Angeles that day. Unfortunately, after the awards function, we were not able to get together. We preponed our flight and flew back the next day, so the party is pending.

After so many achievements, what does the Grammy Award win mean to you?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: It’s more of a recognition on the world stage. It’s the award any musician would love to have. I can go to any part of the world and this award will be recognised. It’s a huge thing for any artiste. I am humbled, and thank you, Shakti.

Young musicians are inspired by this win…

Ganesh Rajagopalan: Yes, I love to see their quest. Youngsters always have an inquisitive mind. When we do something beautiful, youngsters ask us questions, which we might think are fundamental, but they feel happy about the answers as if we have opened their eyes. We feel their emotions and it gives a sense of fulfillment.

In these times of artificial intelligence and advanced technology, how do musicians work around it?

Ganesh Rajagopalan: We should collaborate with people who know it better than us. We should work with people, so that whatever we do comes out well.

Read the full article in The Telegraph.