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London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF | AFTRA

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Jazz World




""Let The Light In" the light baroque pop by Shama Rahman"

On her third album the multi-instrumentalist and singer continues her poetic quest for a universal sound by mixing her Bangladeshi sitar with urban productions, jazz improvisations and folklores from around the world.

From a family from Bangladesh, Shama Rahman was born in the United Arab Emirates and currently lives in England . Composer, multi - instrumentalist, actress and singer, the artist also has a doctorate in neuroscience for which she studied musical creativity . A multiculturalism and a field of study which guided her towards her musical journeys, started in 2006, by exploring several genres such as live electro, groove and jazz, psyche and folk, urban rhythms and the world, as well as classical Indian and Western melodies, using both voice and spoken word as different instruments, technologies and other diverse techniques . AfterFable: Time in 2013 and Truth BeTold in 2018, Shama Rahman once again invites us into what she calls her "baroque pop" on the album Let The Light In on NarRator Records .

On this album, Shama Rahman is accompanied by two friends: Djordje Mijuskovic, violinist ( also member of the Serbian group Naked ) , and the Spanish funk bassist Daniel Abad, whom she met in Hungary at the Babel Sound Balaton World Music Festival and Artist Residency . As in her previous works, the crossing of cultures is the essence of the eight songs that make up the album, the common thread of which is the passage from dark to light . She takes the Sitar out of its traditional context in a brilliant contemporary exploration, rearranges ‘Shundhor’ mysterious regional folk song from Bangladesh sung in the dialect of the region, evokes the theme of identity, exile, the cracks from which illumination sometimes springs .

“My piano experience was classic . So obviously, in a large part of my compositions, only classical chords, movements and transitions appeared . Djordje and really enjoyed it, having been trained in classical violin him - even . Daniel, meanwhile, brought that cool cool groovy funky rhythm . We have, in fact, created a new genre.”
Later, three collaborators joined the trio Shama and Friends on the album: Laci Szlama, master of the koboz ( traditional Hungarian instrument ) , the singer Maria Keck and Véronique Delmelle on the saxophone . - FIP French National Radio

"Shama - Let The Light In"

Look, this is a textbook example of what world music can be: an originally British-Bangladeshi sitar player, who grows up in London, holds a doctorate in neuroscience and the musical outgrowth of it, makes music that is heavily steeped in contemporary jazz, but because whole pieces of folk and electronica run through them and in this way explore the boundaries of the usual. In addition, this young woman is also an actress and performance artist and she has already appeared on television, where she played the lead role in a 24-part detective series: she is therefore not immediately catchable for that point.

Over the past seven, eight years, she has made three EPs and two full CDs, so today she's here with her third, where she, with the help of some “friends”, met at her second residence in Hungary, where she performed at the Babel Sound Balaton festival and came into contact with violinist Djordje Mijuskovic and bassist Daniel Abad. The three started playing and improvised some of the 37 minutes of music, which were later finished in the studio with contributions from koboz virtuoso Laci Szlama, bassist Inga Eichler singer Maria Keck and saxophonists Rachel Bartlett and Veronique Delmelle, who is completely with us and who is well known among jazz fans as a member of the Blindman Quartet and of Marockin 'Brass.

All elements that make you look forward to a surprising record and you will be served your every need: this is a somewhat difficult record at first, which nevertheless opens up little by little and, if you give yourself the time to listening, it turns out to contain many beautiful moments. If you take a moment to think about it, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that the scene in which Shama hangs out in London must be extremely fascinating: you will find every possible genre and they also recognize each other's right to exist and the musicians go playing together, which gives very nice results.

Sometimes this sounds dreamy and even a bit floaty, at other times people are relentlessly aiming for “pleasure” or a simple vocal line becomes the basis for an extremely complex improvisation. You will find the YouTube link to the title song in the attachment, but you should also try to hear “Stay” or “Ch * n Ch * n”: I am sure that you, like me, will be tackled without a hitch. This is a form of world music, which we will hear a lot of in the coming years. World Music 2.0, as it were, with in this case voice, sitar and sax in absolute star roles. Delicious! - Roots Time Berlin

"Shama Let The Light In Video"

Multi-instrumentalist - she plays the piano as well as the violin or the traditional Bangladeshi sitar -, doctor of neurosciences, actress, Shama is one of those artists who do not allow themselves to be locked in a box, who constantly explore genres, going from electro to jazz, from psyche to folk, from urban rhythms to work, sounds, mixing Indian vibrations to western groove, placing her soft and warm voice on melodies that make sense, words that transport well beyond musical boundaries. In the company of musician friends from all over Europe, Shama Rahman offers us a third studio album which once again leads us to discover multiculturalism, her own path and makes her an artist apart. Far from the beaten track, with this sitar, that we have little opportunity to hear in our latitudes and that it leaves its traditional context, it offers us an intense sensory trip, wonderful exploration of new emotions, sensations from elsewhere. No wonder, then, that we let ourselves so easily, and definitively, be trapped in its light and that we find ourselves following it to the end of its worlds ...

Originally from Bangladesh, born in the United Arab Emirates, living in Great Britain, performing everywhere in Europe, Shama Rahman is living proof that diversity, diversity, can only blossom in a world as rich as it is beautiful.

The multi-instrumentalist composer and singer began her professional career in 2006. Shama Rahman developed her music by exploring several musical genres such as live electro, jazz, psyche, folk, urban and world rhythms, as well as classical Indian and Western melodies, using both voice and spoken word as different instruments, technologies and other diverse techniques. But above all, accompanied by her Sitar, a traditional instrument from Bangladesh, a region of the world where his family has roots.

She has performed in numerous festivals such as Manchester Jazz (United Kingdom), Bestival (United Kingdom), BoomTown (United Kingdom), Shambhala (United Kingdom), Green Man (United Kingdom), Secret Garden Party / Wilderness (United Kingdom) and on stages such as Southbank and Roundhouse. She received an award of excellence (Help Musicians), was invited to the residence of the composer "Take V" (Serio) and was a researcher in sky arts and finalist Artangel. - Divertir

"Preview: Shama Rahman’s ‘Let the Light In’ Album Launch"

A bit of jazz, tastes of psychedelia, crumbs of folk, spoken word snippets, traces of dub, and drops of blues, all enhanced by the charming sound of the sitar, electronic arrangements and her smooth voice: Shama Rahman’s music is an eclectic and well-tuned harmony of styles and influences, moving from her Bangladeshi roots, exploring the London soundscape where she was born and bred, and widening its horizons reaching the world.

On Saturday the 29th of February, you can embrace the creative talent of the London-based singer, sitar player, composer, scientist and explorer by joining her for her new album launch at The Post Bar in Tottenham. - Rhythm Passport


This week, award-winning composer, singer and sitarist Shama is to release her genre-spanning EP, ‘Truth BeTold’ (16 March). It offers a flavour of what lies ahead with her groundbreaking album release of the same title set for release later this month (March 23). The album was recorded live and features the use of groundbreaking wearable technology. Truth BeTold takes the listener on a transformative journey, told through personal life experiences of childhood, finding identity through revolution, love, disillusionment and hope. These experiences are sonically and lyrically embodied through water forms such as playful creeks, melting river flows and the terrible, calm beauty of the sea. It is thematically arranged into three chapters reflecting Sufi poet Rumi‘s questions: ‘Is it True?’, ‘Is it Kind?’, ‘Is it Necessary?’ Listen to the EP in full below.

Previously championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Tom Robinson, BBC Introducing, BBC3’s Lopa Kothari, BBC London, BBC Asian Network and more, Shama has raised the bar once again with ‘Truth BeTold’. More than just a collection of songs, the album is a continuous flow of music and spoken-word interludes backed by sitar soundscapes. For the interludes she took inspiration from the beat poets of the 60s such as Allen Ginsberg. The result is a wonderful, genre-bending opus, illustrating an artist confidently reaching new musical and storytelling heights.

Shama comfortably takes her sitar out of the traditional context, demonstrating a versatility rarely heard. This can be heard on her EP from the innocent, happy childhood chimes of ‘Choto Meye (Little Girl)’ to the standout title track ‘Truth BeTold’, dreamy track with trip-hop vibes and a Bjork-like quirkiness. Switching between English and French vocals, while mixing traditional and contemporary melodies, this track has a truly international sound, while also offering the strongest nod towards the metaphysical filter of Shama’s Sufi leanings. The effect of the gloves, as part of the futuristic live performance, can be clearly heard as part of the vocal intro on this track.

‘In My Line Of Sight’ explores the sound of jazz improvisation and crunchy, sub- Saharan, Ethiopian-esque electronic guitar sounds. The album’s water themes are lyrically most apparent in this track, with different stages of love represented by analogies of a river, lake and the sea. ‘Personal Grey’ is the ballad of the album, with Shama using the sitar to give a new twist on Western melodies.

Shama performed ‘Truth BeTold’ live at the Alchemy Festival at The Southbank Centre in London in May. This avant-garde performance broke through the boundaries of live performance, delivering a breathtaking show. The glove system was used as a centrepiece, allowing for freeform improvisation and direct interaction with dancers and visual artists, to create a futuristic storytelling loop; a stunning, immersive and interactive glimpse into the future of live performance.

An accomplished sitarist (studying under the tutelage lineage of Ravi Shankar), Shama is an artist who deserves attention; a storyteller who embraces artistic expression in all its forms. Alongside her music, she is a successful actress, holds a PhD in the Neuroscience of Musical Creativity, and is the founder of award-winning immersive science, performing arts and educational company, Jugular Productions. This openness to experience, creativity and the world around her is reflected in ‘Truth BeTold’.

This EP and her forthcoming new album should see Shama recognised as a truly individual and uniquely talented artist.

The ‘Truth BeTold’ EP is released 16 March, the album of the same title will be available as a standard 11 track album and a deluxe 16 track version featuring the full set of interludes.

Pre-Order Truth BeTold via Bandcamp

Shama will play the following live UK dates:

March 16th – Birmingham, Actress & Bishop
March 17th – Bolton, Bolton Socialist Club
April 4th – Album Launch London, Sebright Arms
May 18th – Alternative Great Escape, The Great Escape, Fierce Panda / Fandango curated stage
August 10 – 10th August: BoomTown Festival, Hampshire (same stage as Gilles Peterson and Vels Trio) - Folk Radio UK

"Shama Rahman"

Put away your "Namasté" and your received ideas. If you expect a plan-plan concert of traditional Indian music, you are on the wrong track! In fact, Shama Rahman has a family of Bangladeshi descent. She was born in the United Arab Emirates and now lives in London. Her career has a lot of surprises in store: a multi-instrumentalist composer, holder of a doctorate in neuroscience for which she studied musical creativity, she has performed at many festivals around the world. Even to the South Pole, since she was the first artist to play the sitar during the Antarctic Biennale. The Bengalis were also able to follow her in the lead role of a BBC TV series. Currently on tour with his album Let The Light In, elected "Fip selection of the month of March", Shama Rahman embarks on stage musicians met during his many trips to give birth to a musical universe without borders. Jazz, electro, folk and psyche come together, illuminated by the soft and bewitching voice of the multilingual artist. We lose our notions of time and styles as the result turns out to be unique and personal. We can venture to speak of "new genre". Shama clearly has a lot to say, to sing and to show us; we must not miss the passage of the comet which will flood the Molotov room with light. - Journal Ventilo

"Interview: Shama Rahman"

Shama Rahman: “We’d get all the Bollywood and the Ghazal stuff, but then we’d also get stuff like Radiohead and Blur”

Songwriting meets a neuroscientist who also just happens to craft her own unique, transfixing blend of eastern and western music

Every so often an artist comes along who stops you in your tracks. An artist whose music really doesn’t sound like anyone else’s, who blends disparate influences and styles to create something genuinely unique. These, of course, are the artists we need to treasure – even if, for those of us who earn our living as music journalists, the excitement such discoveries engender is inevitably tempered by that nagging question, “How the hell am I going to describe this to our readers?”!

One such artist is Shama Rahman, a UK-based singer-songwriter, musician and producer of Bangladeshi extraction. The best we could come up with for a description was “imagine Dead Can Dance and Björk getting together in a folk club, to make jazzy trip-hop records… with sitars.” And even that doesn’t begin to cover the veritable smorgasbord that is Shama’s upcoming album Truth Be Told, which – in the words of the hype sheet – blends “jazz and dubstep, punk and folk, spoken word, hip-hop and trip-hop, swing and bossa nova”. The only real constants are strong influences from eastern music, poetic lyrics and the use of water sounds throughout the album.

But Shama’s versatility doesn’t start and end with musical genre-hopping. When she’s not making impossible-to-define records, she also happens to hold a PhD in neuroscience (her thesis focused on “the neuroscience of musical creativity”), as well as running her own start-up Jugular Productions, which blends performing arts and science education, and being a brand ambassador for the wearable music-making technology known as gloves. Oh, and she has a side-line in acting, too.

Phew! With that much going on, we knew this was definitely someone we needed to speak to. So allow us to present… Shama Rahman, Renaissance woman extraordinaire.

Let’s start at the beginning, with how you first got into making music…

“I’ve been making music as long as I can remember – I started playing piano when I was about four years old, it’s just something I’ve always done. Then when I was about 15 or 16 I secretly wanted to be a concert pianist, but I didn’t really admit that because it wasn’t seen as a possible route in my culture, or in my family – I didn’t even know there were music schools out there! My Dad is a doctor and my school was very science-oriented – music was always something that was extra-curricular.

“But I still played piano, and I won a vocal competition at school as well. Then once I went to university I didn’t have access to a piano so it kind of lay dormant for a while. But then I guess it’s something quite innate, because after doing my first degree in biology, I was doing some work experience and I had a dream about this instrument I’d never seen before. When I described it to my Mom, she gave me a piece of paper with a number on it. I said, ‘What’s this?’ and she said, ‘The instrument you described is a sitar, and that’s the number of a sitar teacher’. And that was the first time I found out my Mum had a music degree! So I started to take sitar lessons, and slowly the idea of becoming a musician became a reality.”

Shama Rahman
Shama: “I started to take sitar lessons, and slowly the idea of becoming a musician became a reality”
Was there much music around the house when you were growing up?

“Yes there was, my Mum would listen to music all the time. Growing up in the UAE, it was a cool confluence because we’d get all the Bollywood and the Ghazal [a form of Urdu poetry set to music] stuff, but then we’d also get stuff like Radiohead and Blur.”

A fusion of east and west, then – which would make perfect sense, hearing your own music…

“Absolutely. When we moved to the UK it was quite a big thing for me – I kind of gave up on the idea of home being a geographical location, so music became my proverbial home. It’s a tool to feel comfortable, to bring together all the people and influences I’ve encountered in a coherent way.”

Who would you say have been your key influences?

“Well on this album, the poetic interludes are very influenced by beat poetry. But the overall structure, where each song is introduced by a poem, that comes from a love of theatrical narrative and being a story-teller. I also loved the sketches on albums like Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation of… and The Roots Things Fall Apart, so there’s a bit of hip-hop culture in there, in the spoken word aspect. And being a singer and instrumentalist, I really love people like Joanna Newsom, St Vincent, Regina Spektor. And I love old jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, and jazz composers like Gershwin.

“And because I played piano, there’s an element of having lots of different movements in one song which comes from the classical world. And I love Imogen Heap, Bjork, musicals, trip-hop, Portishead, Outkast… and I used to put on D&B nights so there’s some D&B influences in there and I also like Aphex Twin and Buena Vista Social Club! Oh, and Baul music from Bengal – that has a lot of energy and they’re called ‘wisdom songs’.”

You mention the storytelling aspect… much as we love the album it hasn’t really, after numerous listens, sunk in properly yet. Is there one overarching story arc?

“It does, it’s the story of memorable transformative moments in my life. It starts off with the dreams of childhood, through finding your identity, rebellion and revolution, then finding and losing love, being disillusioned, then hope and finding meaning.

“The whole thing is about looking at the same thing but finding new meanings by looking at it from different perspectives, which is why there’s a lot of different genres and languages, and that’s why it’s called Truth Be Told, because underpinning the whole album I’m questioning our concept of reality. There may not be any absolute truth, no black and white, and yet somehow we create our own truths and convictions. So that’s what a song like Personal Grey is about, or Ships In The Night, or the title track.

“Those songs look at all the truths and perspectives we have. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Sufi-ism? It’s a non-religious thing, you can be any religion and still be a Sufi, it’s more about a way. For instance, if you’re familiar of whirling dervishes, that’s supposed to be a way of opening yourself up to the interconnectedness of everything around you. There’s a famous Sufi poet called Rumi, who famously said ‘Let your words pass through gates before you speak. Ask yourself: is it true? Is it necessary? and is it kind?’. I used those three questions as a thematic foundation for the songs throughout the album.”

Shama Rahman
Rahman: “I had this idea of using field recordings of water throughout the album”
So if you get an idea for a very high-concept album like that, how do you go about creating it? Do you plan out the overall story then write music to fit, or…?

“I just sort of collected a bunch of songs and poems and played around with the order, but I wasn’t happy with it so I put it to one side for a little while. And then I had this idea of using field recordings of water throughout the album. My first album, 'Fable:Time', explored storytelling through a process where all the songs were self-contained, but you could put them in a different order to create different stories. With this album, I wanted to make it more of a linear narrative, so I had this idea of having a continuous sound world which would be provided by the water, so from the minute you press ‘play’ you never hear silence until the end.”

When the songs come, do they tend to come words first or music first?

“Well, with the spoken word bits obviously the words came first, and then I’d do them as an improvised duet either with the tuba player or the tabla player, and we’d used a variety of FX – the mu-mu gloves and the Kaoss Pad. With the songs, it was kind of a mixture. Coming back to the waterforms, I guess I used those to represent the different life experiences, so in Choto Meye which is about childhood you have playful creeks, and in In My Line Of Sight I’m using different waterforms to represent the different stages of love. But having tasked myself with something like that, I still felt the overall story arc was missing something, and I think that was because I was lacking a few experiences that were kind of vital for that to be completed.

“But then in the past few years I had some important things happen to me, such as my father passing away. I’d never experienced someone close to me passing before, and it really changed me and my art. And a close friend died as well, so it’s been a fairly intense couple of years, and it’s made me appreciate life in a different way. And because of that, in autumn 2015 I wrote the last couple of songs that really make the album complete, Truth Be Told and Love Is Not Enough. Each of those took about a day and half to write, they came out almost fully-formed. It was like the music came through me, rather than me writing it. Sometimes it’s like that. Some songs I’ve written in four or five hours, but then others have taken four or five days.”

You have a PhD in neuroscience. How does all this talk of Sufi-ism and muses and letting the songs flow through you go down with your scientific colleagues?

“Well, I don’t really have conversations like that with them to be honest! They’ve always known I do stuff with music outside of work, but then it’s not completely separate because the neuroscience work I do is about music and creativity anyway. I don’t know, colleagues have come to my concerts and said they’d come back, so I must be doing something right I guess!

“At the end of the day, neuroscience is the study of the human brain, and the human brain is what gives rise to music. So I don’t see the two things as being separate. I’m a story-teller in whatever medium, and science is ultimately story-telling, because different people will do the same experiment, get the same results, but interpret those results differently. It’s not really that different from artistic endeavour: they’re both driven by curiosity and creativity, it’s just that the tools are slightly different.”

Shama Rahman and the Mi.Mu
Shama Rahman and the Mi.Mu: “I always want to call them an instrument…but I’m not allowed to say that”
Speaking of your work in neuroscience, it’s interesting that recent research into the idea of free will (and the increasingly popular idea that we don’t really have any) would actually seem to tie-in quite nicely with the idea of songs coming through you…

“It does a little bit, doesn’t it? I’ve had hours of debate about exactly this, but I’m not in the court of either complete free will, or complete determinism – I think there’s some kind of complex inter-relation between the two. There’s definitely an element of that in the kind of music flow that I was talking about, but then you do have to get yourself in that state in the first place, to allow that to happen, so what about the free will involved in that? I do think you craft it as well, craft and hone the song that comes through. So there’s a guiding of the whole thing, and the language of free will might not be the right terminology.”

But there’s definitely an intersection there between the worlds of art and science, isn’t there? And also lying at that intersection, of course, is technology – so let’s talk about the gloves…

“Yeah, they’re a wearable technology that lets you control musical parameters by means of gestures, which I just thought was really cool. So I’m artist-in-residence with them, and this album is the first to feature the gloves throughout. I always want to call them an instrument, because that’s how they feel to me, but I’m not allowed to say that – I have to call them a gestural interface!

“I find them quite liberating, because they’re all about improvisation. I can use them during a spoken word interlude, for instance, to control the projected visuals via gesture. They’re a really useful kind of cross-art tool.”

Finally, what are your hopes for the album? Because while we love it here at Songwriting, it doesn’t exactly scream “commercial success”. It could be, of course – look at Laurie Anderson – but opportunities like that are quite limited. So if it came to a choice between doing music, or doing research to pay the bills…

“I feel like I’m doing it for myself, so I want to be the scientist and artist. For the music, I guess as you just said the album is quite a complex and nuanced experience, it’s not really pop-oriented, so how do you get that across in an acceptable manner, in an industry that’s quite narrowly focused? But the way I’ve tried to do that is, although the poems are quite dreamlike, the songs are quite happy, and they do work as standalone songs.

“In terms of what I’d like to achieve… well, I do various music projects but this is my own standalone thing and I do standalone science stuff and standalone acting stuff as well. But then I also have a start-up called Jugular Productions, which combines performance arts and science, so really I’m just trying to carve out a niche of my own.”

Interview: Russell Deeks

For more information on Truth BeTold, find Shama Rahman on Facebook, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Twitter - Songwriting Magazine

"The world’s first wearable tech gloves cross-arts performance is coming to Southbank Centre in London"

A Musical Storyteller Using Wearable Tech Gloves From The Future
Multi-awarded PhD researcher Shama Rahman brings science and art on stage on May 24th at the Southbank, as part of The Alchemy festival. She will bring her sitar cabaret and libretto performance to the future utilising pioneering smart clothing called, wearable tech gloves that enables her to control the music with gestures while interacting with the accompanying dancers.

Shama Rahman is bringing sitar outside of its Indian norm, exploring electro-acoustic cross-genre songs, highlighting the instrument’s versatility with jazz improvisation, electronica, urban and world beats in combination with Indian/Western classical melodies and folk storytelling.

The gloves will be used as a centrepiece during the performance to bring together music, visuals and dancers while Shama Rahman will perform her new album ‘Truth Be Told’. The album is a transformative journey told through personal life experiences, an attempt to answer Sufi poet Rumi’s questions “Is it True?”, “Is it Necessary?”, “Is it Kind?”.

The stage on her fingertips
For Shama the wearable tech gloves have become essential, as they sense her movements allowing her to trigger samples and control music parameters directly with gestures, so the movements can be choreographed into a form of dance, leading and led by music.

“Technology is advancing every single day, and that means music is too. I’ve studied this first-hand for my PhD in Neuroscience of Musical Creativity. That has made me want to push all creative boundaries as far as they will go. I know that my live interpretations of this album could open many doors and make people think about the future of music. That’s where I want to be.” Shama Rahman - Versastyle


Shama Rahman will perform her new album, Truth Be Told, live at London’s Southbank Centre at 6pm on Tuesday 24th May. It will be the first time that the cutting edge glove system will be the centrepiece of a performance, allowing intuitive human movement to bring together music, visuals and dancers in an immersive, interactive performance.
Shama describes herself as a storyteller from the future, ambitiously keen to demonstrate just how the gloves may change the future of live performance. Incorporating gesture and motion detection, the gloves offer an unprecedentedly intuitive approach to controlling music and visuals. Technology is no longer a barrier, but an enabler.
“The gloves sense your movements, allowing you to trigger samples and control music parameters directly with gestures,” says Rahman. “So the movements can be choreographed into a form of dance, leading and led by music. I know that my live interpretations of this album could open many doors and make people think about the future of music. That’s where I want to be.”
She is an accomplished sitarist, skilled in classical Indian music, yet takes this instrument across genres, highlighting its versatility with jazz, electronica, dub, world beats and more. All while holding a PhD in the Neuroscience of Musical Creativity. We will be chatting to Shama about how these two backgrounds influence her creative process in a few weeks.
Her upcoming album, ‘Truth BeTold’ is a transformative journey, told through personal life experiences of childhood, finding identity through revolution, love, disillusionment and hope. Individual tracks travel across genres and are skilfully weaved together with interludes of spoken word, poetry and instrumentals.
Recorded completely live with both electronic and acoustic elements, it is the first ever full album to use gloves throughout. A Kickstarter campaign is also underway to fund the live performance, the recording, and a documentary about the project. Support it here.
Shama’s last album, Fable:Time was championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Tom Robinson, BBC London, BBC Asian Network, The Arts Desk and more. For tickets and info about the Southbank performance, visit the website here.
Shama has delivered a fascinating TED talk on multidisciplinary creativity, demonstrating the exciting potential of such projects. Watch it here: - Bizarre Culture

"INTERVIEW: Shama Rahman and the music of the future"

We are on the verge of a veritable renaissance of music, for which we can thank the rapid advance of technology . With so many wonderful tools at our disposal, why is it that they often fall into the background, hidden away like a shameful necessity no one wishes to discuss.
But for some artists, bringing tech to forefront of a performance and grasping the opportunity to bring something innovative into the world is more than just a passing fancy. Shama Rahman is one such artist, who prides herself on integrating exciting new methods of expression into her art.
We got the chance to chat to her hot off a recent show during Southbank’s Alchemy Festival to discuss the future of musical storytelling, her new album and Tom Cruise.
The Metropolist: You have been seeking new ways to innovate on traditional musical media by integrating advanced technology, but for the uninitiated, what exactly makes your recent performances so wildly different?
Shama Rahman: For the immersive storytelling performance at the Alchemy Festival, Southbank on May 24th, I brought together music, interactive visuals and movement all controlled with the gloves – pushing the boundaries of their use so far, into integrated performance art.
With my live band, we played the songs I have recorded in the album with the gloves, where there were two things I did with them. I improvised live synths/sounds with a 6-piece live jazz band using the gloves as what feels to me like an instrument in their own right. I play the gloves in real-time improvisation with 6 other people which includes a live tempo-changing drummer and sometimes even a glove solo!
This is rather than pre-programmed, or click track metronomic Ableton samples or a pre-composed orchestral piece. To me, the fluidity, expression and satisfaction i get from the gloves during a solo, really feels like playing an instrument beyond the gestural control device they are intended as (that controls another instrument/voice). Again, this is my subjective experience!
I also used them for live FX on voice and the Sitar (which was new at this scale for a full-length 1 hour show at the Southbank and a first with the traditional instrument of the Sitar).
My movements with the mi.mus triggered and affected continuous generative real-time visuals (rather than pre-composed) – again something new. What is different is the ‘generative’ and not necessarily the ‘real-time’ component i.e. apart from some pre-agreed themes and textures,everything was generated on the spot by the movement rather than visuals that have been pre-created/drawn prior to the performance and are then reacting to the movement. It was absolutely stunning.
We had a projection behind the band and another screen in front which created an immersive holographic effect. As I was in the performance, and the visuals were generated for the first time during it, I was only able to see the whole show as video footage afterwards and what I saw left me speechless – the guys Matteo Zamagni and Claudio Giambusso, had done such a good job, it really felt that every note, syllable and movement was totally dependent on and integrated with each other. A complete story.

My movements with the gloves were not only generated by my telling of the stories within the songs/poems but were also a direct result of my interaction with dancers who were planted within the audience. This in turn changed the music I played as the gloves sensed the different movements which are individually programmed to different sounds.
The dancers expanded the context for the music and we worked together with choreographer Jorge Crecis, to create a mixture of set and improvised choreography. Both mine and the dancers movements were choreographed into a dance leading and led by music. Again something hopefully new.
Generally, we are pushing the use of advanced technology within the fields of more humanised and ‘analogue’ improvisation and reactivity. I know that my live interpretations of this album could open many doors and make people think about the future of music. That’s where I want to be.
TM: What do the gloves allow you to do?
SR: They allow me to make and change sound by making theatrical gestural movements in space. So there’s no need to twiddle with physical knobs and gizmos on synths and pedals. gloves explore the interaction with music using the movement of the hands as an expressive weapon. gloves allow me to freehand draw sounds in multiple dimensions, spontaneously creating and manipulating the sound in an intuitive and expressive way.
TM: We assume you are familiar with the film Minority Report (2002)?
SR: Yes and I did start my first performance with the gloves by saying, ’You may think you’ve just entered into the Minority Report, but don’t worry there will be no persecution going on here…I will however invite you into a different world with these gloves…”.
It was at the SOAS World Music Concert Series and the audience were used to traditional or folk music from around the world. Certainly none of them had seen something so futuristic!
TM: Your forthcoming album ’Truth BeTold’ was recorded live and you use the gloves throughout. What did they bring to the album itself, from a musical and a creative perspective?  
SR: As one of the first glove artist-in-residents, I’ve been inspired to bring new impulses to the way I approach composition and improvisation. It has created a new unprecedented relationship between my music, the way I play it and the improvising musicians I play with.
TM: You have a diverse background as a scientist, neuro-philosopher, actor and musician. How did you end up with this wildly diverse skillset?
SR: I actually gave a TedX talk last year on this and how it led to my artistic and scientific practice of multi-disciplinary creativity.
Crossing interests in learning felt natural to me: I liked drawing at primary school and an incidental drawing of the ‘Waggle dance’ of bees drew me into biology.  At secondary school, logic statements within philosophy paved the way for physics, and it was the theatricality of school plays that led to my first musical two-lined compositions.
As humans,I would argue one of our primary drivers is that we are curious. We spend a lot of time trying to improve our existence or better yet, finding meaning in it.
So those early roots certainly sowed the seeds and in my scientific career, I followed my head into a passionate and inquisitive boundary-crossing journey, starting by looking at proteins and genetics as a Molecular Biology graduate.
A Philosophy elective looking at the theory of knowledge and existentialism led me to be fascinated by the bigger picture of our Neuroscience before finally finding my PhD home in Complexity Sciences – the physics of patterns in whole systems.
And one of the other characteristics that help us find meaning, is our other primary driver, our ability to create. I love it.
So at the same time as the PhD, I pursued a full-time career as a musician and actor which has been incredibly rewarding and enriching for my curiosity and creativity. I followed my heart down all manners of colourful paths from pursuing Sitar lessons in a tiny room with a rhythmic ceiling fan tucked away in old-town Dhaka to being the lead of a 24-part BBC drama series, South-East Asia’s first supernatural detective thriller shown to over 50 million viewers world-wide.

Increasingly, it has become apparent that creativity and ideas generation or ‘ideation’, is a ‘syndrome’, a combination of a host of characterisations, that allows us to remain flexible and leads to our mental wellbeing and resilience in an ever-changing world. It’s good for us!
But is creativity something that can be detected or measured objectively? This was the burning question I set out to answer in my PhD that in order to do so had to be multi-disciplinary in essence, by investigating the neural processes, physics and systems of musical creativity and jointly undertaken between the academic and performance denizens of Imperial College, Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Music.
In this PhD, I married my 2 big loves of music and science to address a deeply existential experience. It was essential that for the scientific results to have any meaning, the experimental design needed to have a close tie with the cultural context of the music, be faithful to real-life performance conditions and account for the philosophical nature of ‘What is Creativity?’ between the creators and their observers.  Art helped Science helped Philosophy to reveal that creativity can indeed be detected in the neural brain patterns of musicians – objective and set apart from their subjective opinions.
This marriage of subjects piqued both my curiosity and my creativity to extend the academia into practice as performance not only with my own music but through finding my own startup. ‘Jugular: Joining The Head and the Heart’ is my startup with the explicit vision to showcase and develop rich interactions between cutting-edge science, philosophy and newly commissioned creative performance – and most importantly relate it to the existential experiences of everyday life.
Out of this collaborative ethos since 2012, I have created unique events showing clearly in every session that science, art, philosophy and entertainment are equally valid and fundamental parts of culture, each most fruitfully pursued in dialogue with the others. After 8 UK festival commissions and 5 sold-out London shows, I have experimented with many styles and forms including a secret immersive warehouse rave…about physics!
TM: You haven previously spoken about the importance of the advancing influence of technology upon music, but what do you expect to see in the near future?
SR: I would say in about 4 or 5 years, wearable technology will become the norm for making music. The traditional paradigm of learning instruments with their associated motor skills will change, with more people being able to express the music in their heads to the rest of the world with less barriers.
TM: When will the public be able to see you perform?
SR: The Southbank performance was a one-off concert that showcased the full storytelling vision of the album as a theatrical libretto. We have beautiful 360 video footage of it which will be released soon so that you can digitally experience what an audience member experienced physically on the day. ‘Truth BeTold’ is released next year, before that we have a Hungary tour in July but hope to have further UK performances after that…its all in the pipeline!
TM: Do you have any other planned ways to introduce new technological platforms to music?
SR: Yes, I’m currently toying with the idea of VR…
TM: Thank you, Shama!
If you are interested in learning more about Shama’s work, check out her upcoming album ‘Truth BeTold’ - Have a look at for more information on the release and upcoming performances, you won’t be disappointed! - The Metropolist

"Take Five Family – Edition IX"

Shama Rahman
sitar and voice, London
A multi-instrumentalist with an interdisciplinary PhD in the Neuroscience of Musical Creativity, Shama Rahman’s work defies categorisation. Her last album ‘Fable:Time’ was recorded at Non-Classical Studios and is accompanied by an eight-part storytelling video series. As a music director, her credits include: UK theatre production, 'Harlesden High Street', the BBC drama series ‘Bishaash’, BritDoc ‘Mass E Bhat' and Bengali film ‘Runaway’. - Serious

"In Review: Shama Rahman Band at Manchester Jazz Festival 2015"

An eager crowd awaited the Shama Rahman Band performing on the last day of Manchester Jazz Festival 2015. In fact the queue stretched around the Thwaites Festival Square to see what was set to be one of the highlights of MJF’s 2015 programme.

The Shama Rahman Band, comprising of Shama Rahman herself, on sitar and vocals, accompanied by Christopher Lane (guitar), Nicolas Rouger (saxophone), Thodoris Ziarkas (bass) and Oberon King (drums and percussion), has developed a strong reputation for original, playful music. It is music which draws on Rahman’s Bangladeshi roots, memories, Middle Eastern influences and even the streets of London.

From the very outset, her infectious personality shines through. She is beaming with delight as she opens the set with the beautiful piece Time. It’s an ode to how we manage to fall in love again and teases the mystical and exotic sounds of the sitar – her beautiful delicate vocals accompany the entrancing sound before the drums, guitar and saxophone join in, kicking the tempo up a notch. It builds to a busy and exciting passage as the saxophone takes centre stage before we are reminded of the thrilling middle-eastern influence with another exquisite sitar passage leading to a false ending and a delicate vocal passage to conclude.

The scene and standard has been set very early and the untimely clock tower chimes and a touch of feedback are laughed off by the smiling Shama Rahman.
The Bengali and middle-eastern influences are common throughout the set. In Bolte Paro Ki she demonstrates her bilingual abilities, singing in Bengali – her strong vocals over a busy bass, drum and sitar platform working perfectly in a track which brings cheers from the audience.

The sitar captivates in the striking Matchstick which displays a suspicion of Carribean influence mixed in with classic jazz and Bengali overtones.

The set is filled with variety. Reflections features interesting rhythms and melodies, 26 Hour Baby more of a playful jazz vibe with changing paces keeping the audience hooked; Liquid Blue hints at a classic rock influence, whilst Ships In The Night from an ‘as yet unrecorded album’ which we hope becomes a reality sooner rather than later, moves from the smooth and traditional to the slightly punctuated and pacey leading to an outstanding crescendo.

She continues to smile throughout, clearly delighted to be performing and the audience respond in kind, clapping, cheering and hanging on every sound.

The story telling within the songs it excellent, drawing on the mystic, love, poetry and nature. And it is exactly this story telling ability which is featured in the closing piece Where Did You Come From a spoken word track, bursting with drama and intrigue. Fittingly, the dramatic sitar opening gives way to beefy saxophone interjections, with the vocal element hitting home perfectly to conclude a set which has been simultaneously calming, exciting and invigorating. - Live Manchester

"Stories from the Manchester Jazz Festival Continued..."

Every year the Manchester Jazz Festival team meticulously recruit a number of talented solo artists and ensembles that deliver innovative and sophisticated performances, as well as bringing new international works to Manchester’s front door. This is very much the description that comes to mind in reflecting back on the last day of the festival and its final two performances from the Shama Rahman Band and Airelle Besson Quartet, both performing to a full house in the Thwaites Festival Pavilion on Sunday 9th August.

Combining the rich, expressive sound of the sitar with instrumentation that could be described as being more traditionally associated with jazz, the Shama Rahman band delivered a set that was captivating through its poetical storytelling, complex grooves, and carefully constructed instrumental interaction that was delivered with such ease. Each composition revealed a strong international influence as well as drawing attention to the ensemble’s ability to evoke a number of musical genres, yet producing their own unique sound.

The band line-up consist of Shama Rahman- sitar, vocals, and ukulele; Christopher Lane- guitar; Nicolas Rouger- soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone; Thodoris Ziarkas- double and electric bass; Oberon King- drums, percussion.

The first track of the set was ‘Time’, as featured on the album 'Fable: Time', and is part of the storytelling collection of compositions that Shama informs us tell ‘human stories about how time affects us, its illusions, deceptions and myths’. From the distinct opening sounds of the jawari (the natural reverberation that the sitar is so famous for) the audience found themselves lost in the lyrical poetry that unfolded from both Shama’s accapella vocals after the sitar’s introduction to the track, (that almost sounded like the unfolding chimes of a clock) through to a faster tempo shift and urban folk energy created by the fuller ensemble of percussion, saxophone, guitar and of course, sitar.
Shama's music also introduced the audience to her multicultural heritage by singing in Bengali on the track Bolte Paro Ki (Can you tell me why?), which equally emphasised a strong Bengali folk music influence.

‘Personal Grey’ continued to demonstrate how the Shama Rahman band use the sitar in the context of storytelling, with the interplay between it and the soprano saxophone standing out in this particular track. Shama turned the the track ‘Reflection’ into an interactive performance experience, instructing the audience to join in with contrasting sung rhythmic passages, adding a real playfulness to the musical narrative. ’26 Hour Baby’ continued the foot tapping energy of the set, with creative musical interjections and an ever changing tempo which added a delightfully unexpected turn to the seemingly mellow opening.
Throughout the set Shama adopted a number of charismatic vocal delivery techniques, includng a recitative-type approach which certainly suited the many stories she sang of and the inspiration behind them. There was no shortage of source material to sing about with Shama boasting careers as a scientist, neurophilosopher and actor, as well as talented musician!

We were also treated to new material in the form of ‘Ships in the night’ and ‘Liquid Blue’ later on in the set, both tracks that evoke a number of different genre influences, and will hopefully feature on a recorded album in the near future. For updates on upcoming new material and future concerts click here. Following the penultimate performance from the captivating Shama Rahman band, Festival Director Steve Meade and John Davies, Chair of the Manchester Jazz Festival Trustees shared heartfelt words of thanks. - The Culture Review

"Manchester Jazz Festival highlights: artistic director Steve Mead's recommendations"

Shama Rahman Band and Airelle Besson Quartet
SM: “This is our final Sunday and these are lovely shows: Shama’s Indo-jazz, and Airelle is a trumpet player from France and a huge star there. She’s a bit like Bjork, with the theatrics and delivery.”

Pavilion / August 9 / 2.45pm & 4.30pm / £4 each - Manchester Evening News

"Wassermusik - HKW, Berlin"

Complex global songwriting: Shama Rahman studied sitar under the tuition lineage of the great Ravi Shankar. On her debut “Fable Time” she brings together musicians from Bangladesh, Great Britain, Armenia, Croatia, Italy, Norway and the Caribbean, combining elements from bossa nova, folk, pop and music of the subcontinent.

Born in the United Arab Emirates, she obtained a PhD in “Neuroscience of Musical Creativity using Complexity Tools” at the Imperial College’s Center for Complexity Science in London. She currently runs the creative production company “Jugular: Joining the Head and The Heart,” where she leads workshops on teaching science through improvisation and storytelling. - Haus Der Kulturen der Welt

"Shama Rahman - Southbank"

Award-winning sitarist, composer and singer Shama Rahman brings her musical stylings to Friday Lunch.

The sitar takes centre stage in her band, which creates music that has earned praise from the likes of Gilles Peterson. Mixing music from English, Bengali, Bulgarian and West African folk traditions with jazz textures and urban beats, Shama sings about life, love, revolutions and time.

‘Love it all’ (Gilles Peterson)

‘Beautiful and Intoxicating. I love it’ (Michelle Hussey, BBC6 Introducing Manchester)

‘New, creative work by Shama Rahman or soon to be Dr Rahman’ (Lopa Kothari, BBC3 World Routes)

‘...impressively inventive debut of Shama Rahman’s band performing quirky, intelligent tunes’ (The Arts Desk)

Central Bar at Royal Festival Hall - Southbank Centre, London

"Musicvein Exclusive: Time by Shama Rahman"

Take a look at new video ‘Time’ by Shama Rahman.

Taken from their 2014 release ‘Fable: Time’ the folk song features the beautiful and mystical vocals of Shama accompanied by a captivating sitar – whisking you away to the far east.

Time is the 6th webisode from a series of 8 shorts that unfold to reveal the storyteller central to the tracks. “Time questions whether time is linear or whether past, present and future all co-exist along with our memories of love and whether or how it is possible to fall in love again.” says Shama of the album’s title track.

The brilliant video was edited by award winning Film maker Esteban Uyarra – whom you may know from his work with Pussy Riot and documentaries including ‘War Feels Like War’ and ‘The Trial of Saddam Hussein’.
“Love It All. Brilliant!” – Gilles Peterson

“Beautiful and Intoxicating. I love it” – Michelle Hussey, BBC6 Introducing

Catch Shama Rahman live at Passing Clouds on 28th Feb see Facebook for more details

Twitter: @TheShamaRahman - Music Vein

"Shama Rahman"

Intricate story telling combines with gentle guitar playing, subtle sax lines and a flourish of sitar vibes in Rahman's music.


8pm - The Forge

First set: Valia Calda
Second set: Shama Rahman Quintet

Shama Rahman Quintet
Shama Rahman is one of the emerging talent in this year's composer's residency 'Take V' by the EFG London Jazz Festival organiser's Serious Live. As part of the LJF, she will be playing with her quintet at The Forge - Camden in their 'Jazz Without Borders' series.

Shama Rahman - Sitar and Vocals
Christopher Lane - Guitar
Nicolas Rouger - Soprano and Alto Saxophone
Andres Castellanos - Bass
Oberon King - Drums and Percussion

Award-winning sitarist, composer and singer, Shama Rahman weaves stories that start life as poems and take flight as songs. The sitar is played in the context of storytelling, musically arranged within layered harmonies and complex grooves of a brilliant 5-piece band, she will be playing original music from her debut album 'Fable:Time' - an album that has garnered praise from music connoisseur and tastemaker Gilles Peterson. Mixing music from English, Bengali, Bulgarian and West African folk traditions, with jazz improvisational textures and urban world beats, she sings over her sitar with passionate observations on life, love and time.

"Love it all!"-Gilles Peterson
"Fable: Time" is an ambitious piece, that rare combination of unconventional creativity and the focus to bring it into a successful fruition" - FredPerry Subculture
"Beautiful and Intoxicating. I love it"- Michelle Hussey, BBC6 Introducing Manchester
“New, creative work by Shama Rahman or soon to be Dr Rahman!” Lopa Kothari, BBC3 World Routes
"..impressively inventive debut of Shama Rahman’s band performing quirky, intelligent tunes" The Arts Desk

The album 'Fable:Time' features musicians from Bengal, Britain and around the world, recorded in support from Gabriel Prokofiev's Nonclassical studios.

It has been featured along with live performances and interviews on BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 3 World Routes, BBC Asian Network, BBC Introducing Manchester and BBC Radio 6 Music with a special mention from Tom Robinson alongside international Turkish and Bangladeshi TV channels.

At this performance the band are also very excited to play you some new songs and looped sitar spoken word pieces that are being supported in development by the Emerging Excellence Award by Help Musicians UK for her next album.

Live and Collaborations:

Shama has played internationally at venues and festivals in England, France and Bangladesh including the Southbank Centre and Barbican Centre. She has recently been honoured to have been on tour with In Place of War artists from UK, India, Congo, Zimbabwe and Kenya - Nucleya, OCTOPIZZO, Louis Barabbas, Alesh Officiel - which culminated in 4 performances at Shambala Festival with 2014's Mercury winning Young Fathers and the legend Sandie Shaw. Other major festivals in England include Love Supreme Festival, The Secret Garden Party, Green Man Festival, feature on WOMAD radio, Supersonix (supporting Seth Lakeman and Ska Cubano), Wilderness Festival,Un-Convention and a commission for Shaanti presents The Eastern Electronic Festival. She has been commissioned by MOJO for a re-interpretation of Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby using her own unique jazz-sitar style featuring MOBO Awards (Official) nominee and fellow 'Take V' composer and pianist Peter Edwards.

She has featured on Asian Dub Foundation (Official)'s latest album 'Signal and the Noise', producers Telemachus Guardian acclaimed 'In The Evening' LP and Sam Stateofbengal. She has also collaborated with household names in Bangladesh's musical scene such as Bangla producer Faizan R Ahmad and singer Mahfuz Anam James.

Shama has also composed, performed and contributed music for the award-winning theatre show 'Harlesden High Street' by Abhishek Majumdar and Jackdaw , first episode of BBC drama series Bishaash and international film Udhao.

"Love this song and video by Shama Rahman" - Gilles Peterson
'Reflections' Official Video:

Official Music Videos:
'Coast' -
'26 Hour Baby' -
'Bolte Paro Ki (Can you tell me why?) -
'Partial' (New Release) - - Time Out World

"MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE Shama Rahman"

As part of their 'Jazz Beyond Borders' series within the EFG London Jazz Festival, The Forge presents: The Shama Rahman Band.

The Shama Rahman Band are masters of what they dub 'urban folk' - mixing music from English, Bengali, Bulgarian and West African traditions, jazz to dubstep, punk to folk, spoken word to bossa nova. Singer/Sitarist/Composer Shama weaves stories that start life as poems and take flight as songs. At this performance they will be playing music from their debut album Fable:Time, (an album already garnering praise from the likes of Gilles Peterson) and they are very excited to play you new unreleased songs that have been supported by the Emerging Excellence Award by Help Musicians UK. The sitar is played in the context of storytelling, musically arranged to sit within layered harmonies and complex grooves of a 4-piece band. Expect a performance of challenging musical beauty.

Musician, Actress and Scientist (PhD in neuroscience of musical creativity), Shama Rahman was born in UAE to Bangladeshi parents and living the life of a scientist, neurophilosopher and actor, her songs don't fail to deliver on originality, startling insight and an over-riding sense of playfulness. Under the tuition lineage of Pt Ravi Shankar, she sings over her sitar at times passionately soaring and powerful, at others, mischievously percussive and quietly thoughtful, but always beautiful, as she tells it like it is with observations on life, love and time hidden in fables, illuminated in parables and good old fashioned clap-alongs. Shama has been selected for 2014’s emerging composer's residency 'Take V' by the EFG London Jazz Festival live music organisers Serious Live. - Line-Up

"Shama Rahman At The Green Note"

'Love It All!'-Gilles Peterson
Stories, sitar and song seamlessly woven together – original, startling insightfulness with an over-riding sense of playfulness.
Shama Rahman presents material from her debut album, “Fable:Time” and showcases as-yet-unrecorded songs from her next. In a special trio setup she uses sitar in the context of storytelling with folk-jazz arrangements using layered harmonies with the warm tones of Christopher Lane on the guitar and complex grooves from the fantastic Oberon King on Cajon and all manners of percussion. Also featuring special guest Nicolas Rouger on the tenor and soprano saxophone.
From jazz to breakbeat, punk to folk and bosa nova to hip hop, her music cradles lyrics from her poems to create a story. Poetic Music with a whole heap of energy!!
“Love this song and video by Shama Rahman”Gilles Peterson
'Reflections' Official Video:
“Beautiful and Intoxicating. I've completely fallen for this lady. I love it”, Michelle Hussey, BBC Introducing
Doors Open at 7pm, Music from 8.30pm
The album 'Fable:Time' features musicians from Bengal, Britain and around the world, recorded in support from Gabriel Prokofiev's Nonclassicall studios.
FREE electronic/dubstep remixes from Hit By A Rock and BasTheProducer. - Rhythm Passport

"A vibrant celebration of Asian music comes to Middlesbrough"

BRIT Award nominee Apache Indian has been confirmed as the headline act for the 2014 Middlesbrough Mela, on June 7 and 8, with multi-cultural support from The Shama Rahman Band, Team PBN, Intenso, San2 and Hussnain Lahori.

Hosted by actor, director and presenter Ameet Chana – probably best-remembered for his roles as Adi Ferriera in Eastenders or the cinema box office hit Bend it Like Beckham – the Mela main stage has a long-standing reputation.

Around 50,000 people attended last year’s two-day celebration of culture and diversity in the town’s Centre Square, with organisers determined to make this year’s event the best ever, thanks to continued support from sponsors Middlesbrough College.

Having sold 11m albums worldwide while enjoying seven UK top 40 hits, reggae and bhangra raggamuffin star Apache Indian is sure to be a huge hit at the Mela. Noted for his distinctive vocal style, that is a fusion of Asian, West Indian and English cultural influences, the Handsworth-born singer-songwriter was one of the first UK artists of Asian origin to enjoy chart success.

A Brit Award, Mercury Music Prize and Ivor Novello Award nominee, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Asian Music Awards in 2011.

The four-piece Shama Rahman Band are masters of what they dub Urban Folk, mixing music from English, Bengali, Bulgarian and West African traditions. Singer and composer Shama plays the sitar as she weaves stories that start life as poems and take flight as songs.

Born and raised in Manchester, emerging artist Intenso is a mainstay of the UK Asian download charts, having quickly established himself as one of the hottest properties of the Desi-Urban music scene with singles such as Thenu Thakia.

One of the UK’s very few Asian female singer-songwriters, Oshin Mehta has performed across the UK since auditioning for Indian Idol in New Delhi when she was just 15.

San2, who performed on Disney Channel’s Star Ticket in front of Samantha Mumba at the age of eight, is renowned for his versatility, able to switch effortlessly from Hindi to English to Punjabi in a number of music genres. International Pakistani singer Hussnain Lahori – self-taught on the guitar and keyboard – will be performing his catchy recent single, Jag Nalo Sohni Tu, a fun dance-floor pop song.

Already confirmed for the Mela were Bhangra stars PBN - Punjabi By Nature – who will perform their party anthems Aashiq, Kaun Nachdi and the recent dance-floor smash Go Crazy.

Acts will also include Asian R’n’B singer-songwriter Aman Any, who is flying in from Germany for a one-off performance at the Mela, while there will be two performances from the glamorous Bollywood Belles, who bring with them all the colour, atmosphere and beauty of Bollywood.

With seven hours of musical performances scheduled for the second day of the festival, event programmer and main stage manager Kash Patel says: “I’m confident we have delivered something for everyone at this year’s Mela. It is an honour and a privilege to have Apache Indian headlining the Middlesbrough Mela mainstage and celebrating his 25th year in the music business."

Mela chairman Naveed Hussain adds: "Year on year, the Middlesbrough Mela develops and grows. We hope audiences this year will see some new additions, while we are already planning for next year's 25th anniversary event."

The event is organised by Middlesbrough Council in conjunction with a steering group comprising members of the local community.

Bookings are now being taken for stalls. For more details about stall booking or about the Mela visit - The Northern Echo

"Band of the Day: Shama Rahman"

Last week, South Africans-turned-Londoners Hunter as a Horse were featured as a band who’d journeyed from their home country to the United Kingdom to produce their music, picking up influences from a number of different backgrounds and experiences along the way. Today, it features a not too dissimilar story in which the United Arab Emirates-born, now London-dwelling sitarist and vocalist Shama Rahman arrives, picking up not just musical experiences, but also scientific and dramatic ones as well. Packing a PhD in neuroscience, Rahman’s chief musical exploits are carried out with a six-piece band that continues to combine her loves for both music and story telling in increasingly new and intriguing ways.

The latest idea to conjoin these two interests is upcoming debut album Fable:Time, a collection of eight tracks that will be joined by episodic music videos that follow on from each other in a storyline focusing on the same central character. The video for the album opener ‘Reflections’ is currently the only one available, with more to follow very soon. A piano-driven track at its heart, the piece consistently evolves to include percussion, saxophone and violin as well as the powerful voice of Rahman herself. As an introduction to the project, the piece holds up superbly and it does create that spark of interest as to where Rahman will take the story next. On record, however, the wait is brief as following track ’26 Hour Baby’ is immediately heralded in by a gentle vocal intro before Shama’s sitar begins to sound through a little more noticeably than in ‘Reflections’. The combination immediately makes the vocals sound much more comfortable, though the track on a whole is just as musically amorphous as the one that preceded it. It ends in the same way it began, with just Rahman’s voice closing the track, before ‘Coast’ and ‘Bolte Paro Ki (Can You Tell Me Why?)’ continue to add more different elements into the increasingly textured potpourri of sounds and styles. ‘Bolte Paro Ki’ is the first non-English track on the album, showing off another side to Rahman’s music and giving a vocal nod to her personal heritage as the album leads into its half-way point.

The hopping between genres and styles is not stopped by ‘Time’ or ‘Partial’, and it’s impossible to pin Rahman down into just one. A jack (or jill) of all trades in every respect, it makes sense for that quality to come through musically as well. The tracks tell a story in themselves, and seeing the master plan behind their video accompaniments only becomes more anticipated as the album continues to wind its increasingly unpredictable path. ‘Warrior’ and ‘Johkon’ are the pair of tracks that wrap the record up, with Rahman’s vocals taking a step towards the spoken variety to add yet another new flavour into the almost overwhelming assortment that Fable:Time offers, before closing on a shorter piece that this time blends languages as well as styles.

With the end of ‘Johkon’ comes the end of an album unlike any that you’re likely to have ever heard before. Shama Rahman is consistently able to combine new elements and sounds with what is already present to create an incredibly unique record that is likely to be further strengthened when its visual storyline can be added into the mix. With recent film and theatre compositions such as ‘Moon’ and ‘Suspense East’ also showing off different sides to her musical strength, it is unlikely that Rahman will simply be a flash in the pan. Quite the contrary, Shama can boast a musical and paramusical strength that many others could take valuable lessons from, and may her own work continue to show those strengths for a long time to come.

Useful Links: Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud / Youtube

Shama also has a PledgeMusic page to support her through preordering Fable:Time ahead of its June online release. The page can be viewed here and support of the project is recognised through a reward scheme that offers bonuses not available elsewhere. - 7 Bit Arcade

"4th Webisode from Sitarist Storyteller Shama Rahman"

4th Webisode from Sitarist Storyteller Shama Rahman
Posted on Thu 5th December 2013
Shama is a storyteller using the different passions available at her fingertips. Science, Music and Drama all feed into each other as she weaves Sitar, Stories and Song seamlessly in this album in which Shama takes centre stage with her stirring Sitar supported by a 6-piece band composed of keys, saxophone, violin, guitar, double bass and percussion. Listen to on bandcamp

The music evokes a range of genres from folk, jazz, and spoken word and she coins it Urban Folk: Musical Poetry with a whole heap of energy-driven rhythms. The album features musicians from Bengal, Britain, Armenia and the Caribbean and was recorded with support from Non-Classical Studios run by Gabriel Prokofiev (composer and grandson of famous composer Sergei Prokofiev).

The Videos

This is a multi-media project, and Shama has created 8 supporting videos which are episodes in a storytelling drama series now available on her Youtube channel

Episode 1: Reflections: ("Love this song and video!"- Gilles Peterson)
Episode 2: Coast:
Episode 3: 26 Hour Baby:
Episode 4: You can now view the latest release ’Bolte Paro Ki (Can you tell me why?)’
TEASER: The remaining videos will be released over the coming months to slowly unveil the central character and story of the album… - Festivals For All

"Video Release"

Episode 3 - 26 Hour Baby
Exclusive Video Release Online Hosting for 3rd video in an episodic series accompanying the release of the album 'Fable:Time' - Entertainment Focus

"Video Release"

Episode 2- Coast
Exclusive Video Release online hosting. 2nd video in an episodic series accompanying the release of the album 'Fable:Time' - Entertainment Focus

"Exclusive: Shama Rahman-Reflections"

Sitar player and singer Shama Rahman (think Joanna Newsome, Esmeralda Spalding) is backed by a sumptuous 6-piece band and releases her forthcoming album entitled "Fable:Time".

Here at Glasswerk we are pleased to present the exclusive series of 8 music videos which accompany the release, in a special series of . To expand the lyrical stories on the album, Shama has filmed one video for each of the songs. The videos focus on a central character and her story that slowly gets revealed by episodes in a series of shorts that follow on from each other.
"Loved this track and video - Gilles Peterson"; - Glasswerk

"Introducing - Shama Rahman"

Genuinely standing away from the current new music mainstream, sitar player and singer, Shama Rahman, has caught our attention, and the attention of Giles Peterson, who previously had the foresight to sign Ghostpoet. Shama has released a teaser - "Reflections", for her upcoming album "Fable: Time" - out 27th May. - See more at:
Fusing Sitar, Jazz, Bosa Nova, Spoken word, Urban folk and a myriad of other sounds, "Fable: Time" is an ambitious piece, that rare combination of unconventional creativity and the focus to bring it into a successful fruition. It's certainly the only album you are likely to come across this year with a circular track listing:
“The album has a circular track listing as it is about Time, which is in essence, non-linear. Each song is a chapter in the overall story that can be listened to in any order the listener chooses, thus creating their own personalized journey. These songs are human stories about how Time affects us, its illusions, deceptions and myths. Fable: Time – takes the listener on a journey that involves tales of love & loss and ultimately – hope – as we are guided through the single character’s different stages in her life."
- See more at: - Fred Perry Subculture- Music News

"EFs Underdogs"

Shama Rahman
Shama Rahman is a new artist and singer-songwriter. Her new album Fable:Time is due to be released this June and each of the songs unveils a new chapter in the story of time vs. us. Not content with just showcasing her beautiful voice Rahman also likes to add eccentric instruments to her music like the sitar. With beautiful storytelling Fable:Time sounds like an album you want to get lost in. Shama Rahman is releasing her album, like many new artists, through Pledge Music, where every pledge counts.

- See more at: - Entertainment Focus

"BBC6 Introducing"

Playing "Footsteps" from "We are Not There" E.P.,
"Its the sitarist, Shama Rahman that makes all the difference" - Tom Robinson

"The Alchemy Festival"

About her show at Royal Festival Hall:
"..impressively inventive debut of Shama Rahman’s band performing quirky, intelligent tunes" - The Arts Desk

"Preview: Shama Rahman’s ‘Let the Light In’ Album Launch"

A bit of jazz, tastes of psychedelia, crumbs of folk, spoken word snippets, traces of dub, and drops of blues, all enhanced by the charming sound of the sitar, electronic arrangements and her smooth voice: Shama Rahman’s music is an eclectic and well-tuned harmony of styles and influences, moving from her Bangladeshi roots, exploring the London soundscape where she was born and bred, and widening its horizons reaching the world.

On Saturday the 29th of February, you can embrace the creative talent of the London-based singer, sitar player, composer, scientist and explorer by joining her for her new album launch at The Post Bar in Tottenham.

Even if it will be a night dedicated to Let The Light In (Shama’s third release) and all its musical expressions, you will also meet-and-greet with the soothing and far-reaching song-writing of Brazilian (with Japanese, Portuguese and Italian blood) musician Luiz Murá. Luiz, who will open the show, has shaped his sound via his multicultural background and variegated music listening, so be ready for an inspired set ranging from bossa nova to swing, and blues to jazz.

While, behind the decks, to set the mood of the event from 8PM and draw the curtain at 1AM, a good friend of Rhythm Passport, DJ Lou Pino, will fine-tune the vibe and fit the global beats patterns with his record bag filled with vintage tropical, Latin and Mediterranean vinyl. - Rhythm Passport

"WonderList Shama Rahman"

Shama – “Truth BeTold”

You’re about to get goosebumps, seriously. Releasing the title track to her upcoming album, “Truth BeTold” is the haunting new track from Shama. With stunning melodies and a dream-like vibe, Shama switches between English and French vocals throughout the track to always keep us on our toes. An absolutely gorgeous track, prepare to have it stuck with you long after you’ve finished listening. - Wonderland


Shama Rahman: 

Album 'Let The Light In', 2020

Album & E.P. 'Truth BeTold', 2018

Single Truth BeTold, 2018

Album "Fable:Time", 2014

Asian Dub Foundation: Album "Signal and the Noise",2013

Telemachus Malone: LP. "In The Evening", YNR Productions, 2013

State of Bengal: E.P. "Doodh Boy",Betel Nut Records, 2014

Kid Karoshi: E.P. "We are not there", 2010



"Love It All. Brilliant!"-Gilles Peterson
'The triumphant expression of a unique vision and inimitable sound' - Songlines 4* Review

'Imagine DeadCan Dance and Björk getting together in a folk club, to make jazzy trip-hop records...with sitars.’ Songwriting Mag

"The result is a wonderful, genre-bending opus, illustrating an artist confidently reaching new musical and storytelling heights. Shama comfortably takes her sitar out of the traditional context, demonstrating a versatility rarely heard. Shama is an artist who deserves attention; a storyteller who embraces artistic expression in all its forms"-Folk Radio

Sitarist/Singer/Composer, Actress/Poet and Neuroscientist of Creativity, Dr Shama Rahman has albums 'Let The Light In' (2020), 'Truth BeTold' (2018), 'Fable:Time' (2014). 

Her albums modernise the Sitar, arranged centrally within layered harmonies, electronics soundscapes and complex grooves to showcase it in different genres and instrumentation.

From jazz to dubstep, punk to folk, trip hop to hip hop, psychdelia and electronica, her stories start life as poems and take flight as cross-genre songs. Poetic Music filled with energy!

Drawing inspiration from Bangladeshi roots, childhood desert landscapes of the Middle East, and colliding with London's vibrant characters, she produces international songs that are original and insightful with an essence of playfulness.

'Truth BeTold', is the world's first full live album recorded with wearable tech ' gloves'; it was successfully Kickstarter funded and received Help Musicians 'Emerging Excellence Award'. Being the first glove artist-in-residence, Shama created an immersive boundary-breaking stunning performance at the Southbank with dancers, live band and interactive visuals. 'Fable:Time' was recorded in support by Prokofiev's Non-Classical Studios.



"Truly outstanding and original the next level" Gigs and Festivals

Festivals: Germany's 'Wassermusik, France's Fete De La Musique, Hungary's Babel Sound, Bangladesh, London Jazz Festival, Southbank's Alchemy, Barbican, Manchester Jazz Festival, The Secret Garden Party, The Green Man, Womad radio, Festival No 6, Shambhala, Supersonix, Wilderness, One Love, Global Beats, UnConvention, Wandsworth Arts, The Rollright Fayre, DSC Literary Festival, SALF, Hackney Word and a commission for Eastern Electronic Festival. 

London venues: Ronnie Scotts, The Forge, Passing Clouds, Green Note, Richmix, Proud Galleries, Floripa, Ritzy, Wilton's Music Hall, Troubadour, Luxe, Bedford, Old Queen's Head.

Under the lineage of Pt Ravi Shankar, she sings over her sitar at times passionately soaring and powerful, at others, mischievously percussive and quietly thoughtful but always beautiful with observations on life, love and time embedded in fables, illuminated in parables and electrifying dance rhythms. 

"So beautiful, that was incredible", One Taste Stage 

"That was absolutely fantastic.We have a beautiful lady sitting in our studio with a beautiful instrument-that was spectacular!"-Secret Garden Party Radio
"Audience mesmerised!" One Love Festival
"What came across was just how beautiful your voice is, I was pretty blown away to hear such a balance of delicacy and power"- SpitalFields Festival/ Guildhall School of Music and Drama


'New, creative work by Shama Rahman or soon to be Dr Rahman!' Lopa Kothari, BBC3 World Routes

Commissioned by MOJO magazine for a re-interpretation of Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby using her unique jazz-sitar style.
She starred as the lead in international bilingual BBC drama series, Bishaash, which showed to over 52 million viewers worldwide on Sky. Interviews and music appearances on BBC Radio London, BBC3 World Routes, BBC Introducing Manchester, BBC Asian Network, BBC6 Introducing with a special mention from Tom Robinson and international Turkish, Indian, Bangladeshi and Sky TV channels. As a vocalist, she has featured on Asian Dub Foundation's latest album 'Signal and the Noise' and worked with producer State of Bengal (Bjork, Talvin Singh) performing at BEast festival. As a sitarist she has featured on Guardian-acclaimed hip-hop producer Telemachus Malone's 'In the Evening' and with Bangladeshi artists Bangla producer Buno and singer-songwriter James.

Other collaborations: Kora player Jally Kebba Susso, Gembri player Simo Lagnawi, Folk singer Jamie Doe, London Sitar Ensemble, London Bulgarian Choir and The Doves at the BBC Electric Proms at the Roundhouse, sitarist/vocalist with Orchestra Elastique on Berlin tour.

BBC London Radio, 'Sunny and Shay':"Wow..that was amazing! We could have you on all day!"

Band Members