When I was small, I used to dream of travelling to India. My father had sailed there as a young man aboard a merchant vessels in the 60s, and has described the experience of stepping into the heat of Kolkata docks and hearing incredible music and full of unfamiliar and beautiful scales flowing from old radios everywhere! Years after hearing his stories, I had the chance to experience the country myself. I was invited in late 2013 by WAI to travel with my harp to Mumbai, to join a new project between Gwyneth Glyn and Tauseef Akhtar - at the time, the project had no name but it is now known as Ghazalaw! As the name implies, Ghazalaw is a combination of two languages and two cultures. It is a conversation of sorts between the ghazal (a special kind of love poetry in Urdu) and the melody (or in Welsh, the ‘alaw’) i.e. our Welsh singing tradition. From the first rehearsal in the home of Tauseef, I was hooked - by the country and by the music! Learning a new musical language was a great experience.
Since the first trip I have visited India several times. As part of the British Council project Folk Nations I had the opportunity to play music in Delhi, Kolkata and Shillong. The Sarangi player that I met as part of that project - Suhail Yusuf Khan - will appear on my new album! I took my band to perform in Kala Ghoda (Black Horse) arts festival in Mumbai in 2014. And Ghazalaw has performed in many of the country’s festivals (including Mumbai Live Lit literary festival and Kolkata book fair). I can say without a doubt that my life has changed dramatically since that having that first opportunity to realize a dream and travel to India. I hope that much more musical collaboration is yet to come in this amazing country!