Sound the People
Rhyme & Reason Records
I have a mental movie that plays as I listen to Sound The People. Sunny Jain, the Indian percussionist who is the founder of Red Baraat, is leading a procession through an ethnically diverse neighborhood. As the procession winds its way through the streets, neighbors come out to join the band or the band stops to accompany someone who can’t join the parade but wants to contribute to the celebration. This image formed in my head before I learned that a Baraat is the groom’s procession in a traditional Indian wedding, which features brass bands, dancing, and celebration. It’s like an India second line parade.
In my imagination, Sunny leads his brass band through the streets of Brooklyn. The Bhangra rhythms beat out by the drummers and a funky sousaphone player form the bedrock of the Red Baraat sound. As my imaginary procession winds its way through the streets, musicians jump in to add to the mix. I imagine a clarinet player form the local Klezmer band running out to join the party. A couple of jazz cats grab their horns and join in. A guitar player from West Africa drags his amp onto the stoop to play along. The procession stops at the used bookstore so the Poet Suheir Hammad can recite verse about human connections by Hazrat Inayat Khan.
The procession moves on. Around the corner is the home of Heems from the hip-hop group, Das Racist. Heems jumps into the fray with a powerful flow about the South Asian diaspora, migration and the challenges of the current political climate. Heems amps up the vibe. He makes the Baraat more than just a party. Just when it seems things might be getting too serious, humorist, John Hodgman grabs a megaphone to recite Punjaub March, a piece that reinforces the idea that no matter where we’re from, we’re all in this together. Yesterday is gone. What are we going to do about tomorrow?
What are we going to do about tomorrow? I want to join the Red Baraat parade. I want to be in a crowd that appreciates diversity as strength and recognizes how we can all contribute to something grander than ourselves. The parade is coming to you, Share the joy and let’s make this a spectacular day.