As the trumpet player and singer of Brooklyn Bhangra outfit Red Baraat for over 10 years now, many will instantly recognize musician, educator and activist Sonny Singh on his new solo project. Under his own name, Sonny is set to release his debut solo album titled Chardi Kala, a record of uplifting Punjabi anthems and Sikh kirtan with lyrics from Gurbani (Sikh devotional poetry) and Sufi poetry mostly written in the 16th and 17th Centuries. “Musically, this project embodies the many spiritual, political, and aesthetic elements that have shaped me,” Sonny explained. “Every song has an original vibe to it, eclectic and unique, from a bolero-mariachi Sikh shabad on one track, to a qawwali song with a reggae bass line on another, then a bombastic Ghadar Party tribute in Punjabi and Spanish on yet another.”
Chardi Kala will see the light of day on May 13th and ahead of it Sonny has shared the jubilant lead single ‘Aisee Preet’, featuring a Sikh shabad (devotional poem) by Guru Arjan, the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. The single is offered with an accompanying video shot in Richmond Hill, Queens, which has a large Punjabi Sikh community. Speaking about it, Sonny commented:
“I hope this music and video will help bring more attention to the Sikh community in the US who have too often been ignored by mainstream media. As we Sikhs around the world celebrate Vaisakhi, I want to invite other communities to join us and get a glimpse of our spiritual and cultural practices, while also joining us in our struggles for dignity and justice.
The reality is our community usually only makes headlines in the United States in times of tragedy as victims of racist attacks and hate crimes. Part of our intention with this video, and my music in general, is to amplify the beauty, love, and strength in the Sikh community, who have dealt with so much oppressive trauma but remain in chardi kala – revolutionary eternal optimism.”
Shravya Kag directed, filmed, and edited the video for ‘Aisee Preet’. Watch it below.