Raga Labs brings together the best musicians in world music genres to create unique collaborations that provide a platform for groups of artists to express and explore contemporary themes and relevant social trends. Raga Labs was founded at MIT and is the recipient of many awards including the 2015 Arts Entrepreneurship award by Fractured Atlas, the US Creative Business Cup, the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge award amongst others. Founder and CEO Sriram Emani was recently featured in a ‘Spotlight on Arts Entrepreneurship’ by the Congressional Arts Caucus on Capitol Hill. In May 2017, Minnesota artists gathered in the Twin Cities to take part in this powerful collaboration. Click here to see video. The artists had this to say about the experience:

Sarah Larsson, vocals & percussion: “Every time I see other excellent world musicians perform, I’m left with an eagerness to find ways to collaborate. I’m thrilled to get the chance to playfully explore new music with people I always listen to and admire — so many of the greatest music scenes are built on collaboration, with all the members channeling and challenging each other. I’m thinking about in the olden days in Eastern Europe, where musicians from different villages would meet for market days or annual festivals — they’d bring their village’s songs and styles, and would try to imitate each other, building their craft along the way. Folks of different ethnic backgrounds, roots, and traditions would learn from each other and ultimately build the genre.  I picture one fiddle player nudging another saying, “Hey, how did you do that?” and then adding that new technique into their repertoire. That’s how music builds and grows. I’m excited that we’ve gotten to participate in that lineage.”

Sriram Emani, Founder and CEO of Raga Labs, and Exec Producer for this project shares, “The performing arts have always been the most powerful means of social commentary. We find ourselves today amidst a confluence of cultures from across the world, and many of us want to learn more about each other while also resisting the urge to alter our own. At Raga Labs, we were keen on bringing out this theme of how cultures can only enrich each other, and coming together benefits us than harm us. So when Sarah put together this group of incredibly passionate world musicians who wanted to explore the theme of finding our roots and shared histories, it was an instant yes from us. We were excited to see the musicians come together to share stories, and almost mirror the market days from ancient Eastern Europe that Sarah refers to where musicians honed their craft through collaboration. It was a revelation to me that our core spirit of enrichment through collaboration at Raga Labs was actually something that happened in multiple cultures across the world! To reflect this theme, we also chose a location that had this vintage-looking fountain that served as the meeting point or the village square for the musicians to congregate at. The bare fountain, to me, echoes the call by history to water our roots and shared past lest we forget what unites all of us as one humanity.”

This project will be launched in many cities across North America in coming months. Interested musicians are encouraged to contact info@ragalabs.com or sriram@ragalabs.com to be part of it.

Learn more at:

Sarah Larsson (Balkan Vocals, Darbuka)
Katherine Parent (Vocals)
Cooper Alt (Electric Bass)
Aida Shahghasemi (Persian Vocals, Daf)
Saeed Hashemi (Persian Setar)
See More Perspective (Spoken Word)

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