Berklee Indian Ensemble Releases New Track "Lady L" Featuring Zakir Hussain, from Album SHURUAAT out July 15

Article Contributed by All Eyes Media | Published on Monday, July 4, 2022

Acclaimed global Indian music collective Berklee Indian Ensemble is releasing “Lady L,” the second single from their long-awaited debut album Shuruaat (out July 15th). The track features Grammy-winning tabla master Zakir Hussain and also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the iconic indo-jazz fusion group, Shakti, that originally released this song. Watch the Ensemble’s version of “Lady L” HERE and listen to the song on DSPs on July 1 HERE.

The Berklee rendition came about in 2019, when Hussain was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music and collaborated on this iconic piece with the Ensemble.

Annette Philip, the Ensemble’s Founder/Director shares: “Ustad Zakir Hussain is not just the world's most revered and prolific Tabla master; he lives and breathes rhythm. 'Shakti' and 'Remember Shakti' have always been pivotal musical anchors at Berklee. 'Lady L's' soulful melody piqued our curiosity, and in true Berklee Indian Ensemble style, our featured musicians from Israel, Iran, Brazil, India, Poland, Australia, and Norway each brought their cultural influences to the table. Having Zakir Hussain himself play with us on this Shakti tribute and BIE reinterpretation was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; simultaneously awe-inspiring and nerve-wracking."

Echoing Philip’s sentiment, Emanuel Keller, cellist and producer of the track notes, "Sharing the stage with Zakir Ji challenged us to be better and hone our communication skills by listening, observing, reacting, and enjoying each other’s offerings. The music of 'Shakti' is built on these exact elements, inspiring us to think in a similar musical way.”

“And what better way to learn from a master, than to play on the band-stand with them,” Philip muses, about the mission that ignited these iconic artist residencies produced by the Berklee Indian Ensemble over the last decade.

“Lady L” represents the stylistic mission behind Shuruaat, which pays tribute to Indian traditions while transforming the songs with a variety of multicultural rhythms and nuances. The music on Shuruaat mirrors the multinational, culturally diverse world in which we all reside, and has been at the center of the Ensemble’s goal to build bridges, prioritizing the people who collaborate to create music, regardless of genre or form.

The Berklee Indian Ensemble began in 2011, founded by Philip, the first Indian musician appointed as a faculty member at Berklee College of Music. The group  became a viral sensation with their groundbreaking 2014 homage to Grammy-and-Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman’s "Jiya Jale" from the 1998 film Dil Se. The video has over 52 million views to date and led to the Ensemble’s sold-out shows in the US, Canada and India. That global demand allowed the Ensemble to organically transition into a professional band in 2021, and the current lineup is led by members representing India, Jordan, Israel, Nigeria, Indonesia, Norway, the US and other regions across the globe. Shuruaat is the group’s first official album and features 10 songs that represent the Ensemble’s first decade together.

Zakir Hussain is the pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time, appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A national treasure in his native India, he is one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations in groups like Shakti, Masters of Percussion, the Diga Rhythm Band, Planet Drum, Tabla Beat Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, in trio with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer and, most recently, with Herbie Hancock. As a composer, he has scored music for numerous feature films, major events and productions and has created three concertos. He has taught at Stanford, Princeton, and U.C. Berkeley. On January 15, 2018, HarperCollins India released Zakir’s long-awaited oral memoir (available on Amazon), A Life in Music, by Nasreen Munni Kabir, the distinguished British television producer, director, and author.