Hindustan Times
Thursday, 20 September 2001

Swapan Basu Plans Folk Music Institute

The Kolkata- based folk singer Swapan Basu needs no introduction. Since his appearance in the early '80s, Basu has carved a niche for himself in the folk song scenario with his equal felicity in Baul, Bhatiali, Bhoiya, Jhumur and Chatka.

For this year's Puja album, his 13th, Basu has something different to offer. The album, to be released sometime in September, consists of eight songs. "All the songs revolve around the theme of love and values in human life," says Basu.

The songs have been collected from places like Khasi, Garo and Jayanti Hills in Meghalaya and Bankura, Purulia, Midnapore, Jhargram, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar in West Bengal.

"The unique feature of these songs is that these are very old and have never been recorded before," he says. Songs such as Dasher bari chaira aami ailam bideshe, Ar kato kaal, Bsanta asilo sakhi and Lokbole speak about a wanderer's houmsickness. Unlike his other albums, this one catches the singer in a pensive mood.

Folk music comes to Basu spontaneously. " I was a kid. I used to be fascinated by the bauls whenever they came asking for alms at our place. My interest grew with age and so, I decide to pursue a career in folk music," says the ethnomusicologist.

Having won accolades for his performances in USA and Canada, the 38-year-old singer now wants to set up an institute for folklore and music. Besides teaching about rural music, the institute will also help preserve such music. Basu says: "Besides music, lyrics are the most important component in these songs.One can learn about the place, its people and their history from the lyrics. And hence these should be preserved. Moreover, folk music is a dying art form and if we do not preserve, it will be lost forever."