Are Nepali musicians ready to rule the world?

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KATHMANDU: There is no dearth of talent in Nepal when it comes to music. Some have carved a niche for themselves on the international stage but most are limited to the local stage. But there is one name — Dibesh Pokharel AKA Arthur Gunn — that has put Nepal on the world music map.

Pokharel was able to impress the world with his musicianship and was declared the runner-up in the 2020 American Idol. With his win he has given hope to Nepali musicians with the same calibre or more as to the height one can reach. So, are Nepali musicians ready to take on the world?

“Any musician with skill and talent of any country can take on the world,” shares renowned Nepali sarangi player Shyam Nepali who is teaching sarangi at Harvard University. “Language can create a barrier but music unites people despite the differences in language. In the US, many have never met or heard of anyone from Nepal. Dibesh sang American songs on American Idol. His musicianship and performance skill, relating to the audience made him rise to the top, and this helped to give Nepal some spotlight outside Nepali community making all Nepalis proud.”

FILE: Sarangi player Shyam Nepali.

Flautist Manose Singh, the first Nepali to be nominated for Grammys, is proud of Pokharel and his hard work. “In that sense, we have taken on the global stage,” says Singh who believes that music is the heartbeat of the world, not any lockdown can stop the magic of music. However, he has doubts if we will have a long-term influence on the world stage “unless we bring our own ethnic influences in the music we share”.

Nepali shares that he is doing exactly that. He feels that the new generation, born in countries outside Nepal who are fully bicultural and bilingual, will be able to relate to the cultures outside Nepal, to translate our music that seems so foreign to non-Nepali audiences.

“For this reason, I strongly feel Nepali music must be taught, so that it is not forgotten and lost as new generations being born abroad become assimilated into other cultures.”

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