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Indian music band ‘Charanams’ wins the Battle of the Boroughs


Charanams, Queens-based Carnatic jazz band, won the Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs contest June 17 to become the best music band of New York City

Charanams, Queens-based Carnatic jazz band, won the Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs contest June 17, 2011 to become the best music band of New York City.


Charanams was created by Nivedita ShivRaj to present a unique world music by bringing together the best of Carnatic (South Indian classical) and jazz styles of music.


Charanams band members are dynamic, creative, fun loving with a passion for music. All are professionals in their chosen fields and come together to create melodious, rhythmic music loved by their fans and music lovers.

Charanams was the one and only Indian band featured in this fierce New York music contest that started off with 524 submissions from bands of all genres. About 8 to 10 bands from each borough, selected by a panel of judges, performed live at The Jerome L. Greene Performing Space in New York in five borough- wide contests in various dates. Charanams, which was among 9 bands selected from Queens, won the borough-round of the contest in March this year and represented Queens in the final round of contest on June 17.

The Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs featured the top 5 bands of New York City – Charanams (Queens), The Soulfolk Experience (Brooklyn), Finotee (Bronx), Joan Caddell & the Midnight Choir (Staten Island) and Andy Suzuki & the Method (Manhattan). The bands performed for in-house audience of over 300 music lovers and a panel of 5 musicianjudges. The live webcast of the event was also watched by thousands of fans world over.

Charanams performed "The Mystic Earth" and "The Hudson Ride", two original compositions of Nivedita ShivRaj, that blew away the in-house audience and all the judges, to win this prestigious honor. The judges were unanimous in their appreciation of the band’s performance and the quality of its style of music.

Hosted by Terrance McKnight of WQXR and WNYC Radios, the Battle of the Boroughs music contest was organized by WNYC Radio and The Greene Space in partnership with the City Parks Foundation SummerStage.

Charanams, created by Queens-based musician Nivedita ShivRaj, presents unique world music by bringing together the best of carnatic (South Indian classical) and jazz styles of music. The award-winning carnatic musician Nivedita ShivRaj is proficient in both vocal music and veena, a multi-stringed instrument of South India. Nivedita ShivRaj is also the Artistic Director of RagaChitra Foundation, an Institution for Indian performing arts. She has presented music concerts and workshops in prestigious venues such as the Gracie Mansion of The Mayor of New York City, The Arbor Festival at Queens Botanical Garden, The Indian Consulate in New York, Queens Library, The Rubin Museum of Art and The Weill Music Institute at The Carnegie Hall.

Nivedita ShivRaj is also an active panelist in Queens Council on the Arts and the artistic director of "RagaChitram" Television Show, an exclusive program for Indian classical music and dance. "This is the first time classical Indian music has won the hearts of music fans over other genres in a music contest," says Nivedita ShivRaj. "I am honored and humbled by the appreciation and support of my fans."

Nivedita ShivRaj has also released "Veena Vibrations," a music album for transcendental meditation based on carnatic music, the first of its kind in the USA.

Samyuktha ShivRaj, the daughter of Nivedita ShivRaj, performs vocals in Charanams, while Marcus Cummins plays the saxophone and Jason Goldstein plays the guitar and bass. The band has a unique blend of percussion with cajon and frame drums by Tripp Dudley and tabla by Advait Shah. The band performs original compositions of Nivedita ShivRaj besides traditional carnatic compositions.

As the winner of the Battle of the Boroughs, Charanams will perform an exclusive concert at the Summerstage concert series this year and will also perform a concert at The Greene Space Theater. In addition to thousands of Indian music lovers in various parts of the United States, numerous fans of the band in

-[ BY R. PADMANABHAN ]

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