I’ve been following TM Krishna for several years now as he is a very interesting combination of a Brahmin Carnatic vocalist (an ancient and traditional music) and a strong and vocal activist fighting caste discrimination and patriarchy. He ruffles many feathers here in India and has been called all sorts of bad names. For example, he just published a book about the low-caste men who fashion the double-head mridangam drum, and there’s already controversy about the book. They are the people who slaughter and skin the cows whose skin is used for the drums. Brahmins object because they don’t want their musical instruments “politicized”. But the book talks openly about the caste discrimination that these men face. Krishna’s recent public introduction of the book was cancelled by a leading music school, and had to be moved to another venue.
Here are two videos, one featuring Krishna singing, and one featuring a wide-ranging interview where he takes on recent developments in caste, authoritarian government, and attacks on free speech in India. You may not want to watch the full videos which are somewhat long but I hope you’ll get a taste of this brave man who speaks out continually. He believes that art and culture are ways to spread democracy and he is will continue to take on topics of discrimination and inequality in spite of the push back.
He’s also a very dramatic and talented artist.
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Such expressive music builds up slowly, then let’s go! And a clay percussion instrument, too.