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Spotlight on Debashish Bhattacharya


Considered the most accomplished Hindustani slide guitarist alive, Debashish Bhattacharya brings his universal appeal to his exotic mesh of classical Indian and bluesy Western music. Debashish will be performing at Riverside in March, accompanied on tabla by Bobby Singh (A Sacred Exchange, Parramasala’s Maru Tarang). Ahead of this concert, we take a look at Debashish, his life and achievements.

Kolkata, India’s Debashish Bhattacharya started learning Indian music from his parents before he learned the alphabet. In his childhood he mastered many Indian classical instrumental styles as well as vocal music from different musical teachers in Calcutta. He became a disciple and student of Brij Bhushan Khabra, the father of Indian classical guitar, for 10 years, and also trained under Ajoy Chakraborty, the eminent Indian vocalist. He has also studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

As a performer, Debashish gave his first guitar recital at the age of four on the All India Radio, and in a public concert. In his twenties, he evolved a unique style of playing guitar, synthesizing selected features of various other instruments such as the Veena, Sitar, Sarod and Sarangi. He has given to the world a new schooling of Guitar in Kolkata Gharana.

Debashish developed his innovative Hindustani slide guitars after years of research and experience. It consists of three self-designed and patented guitars named as Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi. Debashish plays these guitars while sitting cross legged, with the guitar held on the lap and played with a small steel bar, metal picks and a celluloid thumb pick.

With more than 30 years he has cut a niche in the world of music. He has been featured in bill-board top 10, Song Line Magazine top 10, Central Asia and Asia pacific world music top 10, Amazon top 100 albums, National Geography and world’s who’s who enlisted artiste. 2009 Grammy Nominee, 2007 BBC Planet Award, 2005 Asiatic Society Gold Medal, 1984 President of India Gold Medal, worth mentioning.

He has received numerous aficionados, his compositions, his music, and his philosophy of teaching has changed the life of many. His has also given to the world of music, the actual design of the instrument, and through his incredible talent and discipline, elevated the Hindustani slide guitar to be the highest evolution of slide guitar anywhere. To develop his playing, he has undergone decades of disciplined study of Indian vocal technique combined with his instrumental work. Debashish can sing perfectly in parallel with every blindingly fast melody he plays. Possessed of a very open musical mind, Debashish is eager and more than qualified to collaborate and truly blend with musicians from any other country.

As a humble student of Indian Music (HIndustani) he has redefined Indian Classical Music on Slide Guitar. More than 3000 concerts all around the world, having trained over 1000 students, he has designed 19 guitars and out of his 15 albums, 3 have been internationally awarded. He has played with award-winning tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain, English guitarist John McLaughlin, American resonator guitar and lap steel player Jerry Douglas, Grammy Award-winning guitarist and songwriter Dereck Trucks and many other world renowned musicians. Back in India, he has played for Indian musician, composer and well-known exponent for the sitar, Pandit Ravi Shakar. He has extensively performed in many Indian music festivals.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to see Debashish Bhattacharya, accompanied by Bobby Singh on the tabla, live at Riverside Theatres, 20 March. Tickets on sale now!


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