Tunes from the dunes of Thar

Folk singer

Known as the voice of Jaisalmer, folk singer Kutle Khan says that folk songs should reach out to as many people as possible.

“The day a child is born in the Manganiyar community, music becomes an indispensible part of his life. It is just oral music that we learn and nothing else. There is no script that has been written. That is why, I want our music to reach as many people as possible,” says Khan who is considered to be a master of khartal (a popular folk instrument) that finds prominence in the Manganiyar community of Rajasthan.

Coming from a family of musicians, Khan began playing music at the age of eight, learning every instrument including morchang, dholak, bhapang, sarangi and harmonium. “The idea of folk music is to connect with people and touch their hearts. These instruments are an amalgamation of sounds that evoke emotions,” the 31-year-old tells Metrolife.

His interest in Sufi and Indian Folk led him to form ‘The Kutle Khan Project’ that features him as a singer, multi-instrumentalist and artistic director.

“When I travelled for shows, I began listening to artistes of other genres – Bollywood, classical, Indi-pop and jazz. It was fun watching them collaborate and experiment. It was a great learning experience when I became part of such unconventional musical formats,” he says referring to his television stints on MTV Coke Studio and The Dewarists. 

Though he has travelled to over 70 countries along with performing in almost 20 concerts a month in India, he says that performing in his hometown brings him more happiness and satisfaction. “I am happiest when I get back to my village because it is the mitthi ki khushboo that brings me back,” says Khan on his recent performance at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival: Rajasthan Unplugged.

Apart from sharing the stage with international names such as Karsh Kale and band Midival Punditz, Khan has also sung for Tamil film Aambala. “I feel I cannot restrict myself to one type of performance. That is why, I am keen on experimenting,” says Khan, whose new album is slated for a March release.  

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