Kailash Kher: Melding Music And Spirituality

Kailash Kher and Kailasa i i

Kailash Kher and Kailasa just released a new album titled Yatra. Anand Seth hide caption

itoggle caption Anand Seth
Kailash Kher and Kailasa

Kailash Kher and Kailasa just released a new album titled Yatra.

Anand Seth

In a country of more than a billion people, with one of the biggest film industries in the world, Kailash Kher has made a significant mark on India's music world. Kher and his band Kailasa have helped transform the music of a country dominated by the pop music of its film industry.

Kailash Kher and Kailasa's new project, Yatra (Nomadic Souls), is their first international album, rooted in ancient Sufi poetry. Although the band is known for playing Indian folk music, many songs on its new CD are accompanied by elements of jazz, rock and even reggae.

Kher launched his music career at age 14, when he left his home in New Delhi with hopes of finding a way to blend his spiritual beliefs with his passion for music. He found his answer in Sufism, a branch of Islam rooted in mysticism and one's connection with his or her soul.

"I am very much influenced by [Sufism], because that talks only about love and pure love, with humanity, with purity, with sincerity, with honesty," Kher says.

After moving to Mumbai, India, Kher quickly became a music sensation, first by composing jingles for television commercials. His early work helped prepare him for his later career creating soundtracks for Bollywood films.

To date, Kher has recorded nearly 500 commercial jingles and 300 songs for Bollywood. He also serves as a judge on the TV music competition Indian Idol, India's American Idol equivalent.

Kailash Kher & Kailasa's new album is a collection of re-recorded old tracks, as well as new songs with lyrics in Hindi, Urdu and other Indian dialects. The songs center on themes of beauty and love, ideas Kher says represent the journey of every soul to find love in its purest form.

"It's all about love," Kher says, "but in a very, very intense form."

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