Indian fusion singer and leader of Kaveesh the Band, Kaveesh Maharaj, has been enlisted to encourage and show appreciation to volunteers at the TTMA mass vaccine drive at the Divali Nagar Site, Uriah Butler Highway.
Maharaj was carded to appear yesterday and will pull from his repertoire of acoustic hits over the next few weeks to serenade and soothe some 150 volunteer doctors, nurses, administrative assistants and administrative helpers who operate on each vaccine day. The volunteers have worked exhausting double and triple shifts to ensure that vaccines are administered since the initiative started in early June.
In an interview with Sunday Guardian last week, the talented musician said people visiting the site could look forward to unplugged music that boosts the spirit.
“They can expect simple melodies to say thank you; melodies that touch you and remind you of what we stand for as a people. The purpose of humanity is to really be connected to that higher source, we’re not just here to exist. What you will hear is something that will incorporate the aspect of being alive and saying thank you for that and thank you for the people that are making that possible. We want to serenade them and appreciate life on a whole,” he said.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and aided by the T&T Medical Association and SEWA TT, the TTMA has conducted several mass vaccine drives for the business community and the general public. So far, over 11,000 people have received shots through the initiative which seeks to provide safe working environments in the business community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Urging the public to come out and receive their COVID-19 shots, Maharaj who informed that he and most of the band have taken the vaccine said, “Vaccinating is very individualistic and a touchy matter for some, but I would urge people to get vaccinated because from a humanitarian point of view, a little protection is better than none. It’s better to have a chance to fight another day.”
‘Singing is like a prayer I offer to God’
Maharaj started off singing satsangs at the age of two and a half, following in the footsteps of his father and maternal grandmother. He developed a deep interest in music, culture and the arts during his senior years at secondary school and after completing a degree in Literature and Linguistics at UWI, he left for Chennai, India. Training at the KM Music Conservatory under A R Rahman, award-winning composer for such music scores as 2008 film, “Slumdog Millionaire”, Maharaj studied Hindustani classical music and Western Opera. He also benefited from the expertise of Padma Shri awardee, Anup Jalota who is widely called the Emperor of Bhajans.
On his return from India, Maharaj formed the band. Known for its organic vibes carried by live instrumentation, Kaveesh the Band merges classical Indian and Bollywood music played in Alternative Pop/Rock style. The band has a spiritual series entitled, “Chanting Under the Moonlight” which uses healing music to unite the cultures, while their unplugged offerings combine Eastern vocals with Bollywood music and bhajans with Western instruments.
One of the first to integrate the Peruvian cajon, a percussion instrument, into unplugged Indian music in T&T, Maharaj commended the talent of his band members. He said the band prides itself on the multiculturalism they infuse into their music and the naturalistic feel that comes with playing live. They have staged at least three main concerts, doing collaborations with Nigel Rojas of Orange Sky, Solman, Stefan Roach, Gillian Moore and Bhavya Pandit of India.
Of the seven instruments he plays, Maharaj acknowledged the harmonium and guitar as his favourites because of the tonalities of the instruments. Noting that the frequencies that they release work in harmony with his voice, he said it was a spiritual experience whenever he played music on a whole.
“Every time I open my mouth or touch an instrument it’s like I’m praying to God regardless of what I sing. If I sing a bhajan or a hymn it basically has the same effect. I feel the same way if I sing a Bollywood film song. It’s like a prayer I offer to God.”