New York-based East Indian musician Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon is the underdog in the world music category at this year's Grammy Awards--in the esteemed company of acts like Bela Fleck, Bebel Gilberto, Angelique Kidjo, and Sergio Mendes--but that's a tribute to the lifelong passion that's taken her around the globe in search of musicians and sounds to augment her background in traditional songs from the subcontinent. And I don't mean traditional in the sense of songs that date back 50 years or even a century; the compositions on Tandon's second album Om Namo Narayanaya: Soul Call were inspired by an eight-syllable chant that's over six thousand years old, putting those Southern field chants and Stephen Foster ballads in the same ranking as Justin Bieber, age-wise.
But Tandon's healing mantra manages to make something ancient and mystic seem compellingly modern on a tune like "Basanth," as her supple voice gingerly navigates the quarter-tones while tabla and strings provide a sensuous counterpoint. It's a delicate dance between singer and song, with roots so deep they never seem to end.
On iTunes: Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon / "Basanth"