Banker-turned-performer uses music for peace, healing

Banker-turned-performer uses music for peace, healing

Ameya Dabli is a musician, social entrepreneur and wellness coach

Multi-award winning performer Ameya Dabli is on a journey to take the Indian audience through our rich heritage of sound and culture. With pieces combining the legendary poems from Mirabai, Tukaram and Guru Nanak, among others, with peppy global music styles like sufi, hip hop, reggae and opera, Ameya has performed at 1,800 concerts across 20 countries till date.

His most famous initiative is Ekam Satt, through which he organises pro-bono concerts for the Indian Armed Forces. He says the aim is to not just motivate them, but also propagate peace. Metrolife finds out more...

How would you describe your music?

My music is experiential. It encompasses different genres and styles such as contemporary, folk, sufi, ghazals, Bollywood and spiritual.

Since my music reaches people with different tastes and across age groups, I put in a lot of thought into my compositions. When I am doing spiritual ones, it is more about engaging the soul; when it comes to Bollywood tracks, the agenda is to entertain the audience.

When you infuse peppy music styles into age-old poems, is there a danger of the focus being taken away from the lyrics? 

Absolutely not! There is a mood and rhythm innately associated with each song. I have been trained in classical music and would never let the meaning of the song get distorted because of heavy instrumentals. I never compromise on the lyrics even if I want the music to be more lively.

While playing folk songs such as Kabir Das’s dohas or Mirabai’s poems, I understand the musicality of particular lyrics and stick to tunes that can integrate with these original compositions. 

Are Bollywood medleys still necessary to connect to the audience, before introducing them to original work?

Bollywood numbers can be exciting, but it is not necessary to start with them. In my concerts, there have been times when I have played no Bollywood music and yet people have enjoyed the performance. We do get requests from people to sing commercial numbers and even if I oblige them, I add my special touch to it.

Tell us about the concept of Ekam Satt?

The concert series ‘Ekam Satt’ helps people to connect with their inner core rather than searching for answers outside.

As a part of my work with an NGO, I interacted with many underprivileged people in districts of Raigad and Maharashtra. The villagers, despite struggling for basic facilities, impressed us with their hospitality and warmth. It sparked a transformation in me and I began to think of ways to use my musical talents for the benefits of others.

I sat with my team for six months and curated 50-odd songs for the programme. We customised the tunes and composed lyrics and launched our first song in 2016.

You have performed for the Indian Army also...

In 2016, we approached the Indian Armed Forces and after a lot of deliberation, the Army allowed us to perform across 50 locations. Through ‘Ekam Satt’, we have performed over 90 concerts across the globe.

A challenge you face today?

Artistes today have more freedom to create a niche for themselves, but popularising original compositions or music belonging to an unorthodox genre is still challenging. 
When one wants to establish something unique and differentiated, it takes time for people to accept the ideas but at the end of the day, if the music is good, people will enjoy it.

Future projects?

This year, I am planning the Ekam Satt Tour, with different music collaborations in different countries across the globe. In addition, we are organising the 50th concert in honour of the Indian Armed Forces.

We will also launch a new IP, specially designed for the youth of the country. By the end of February, I will also launch my new album, comprising 10 new songs. 

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