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Jenu Kuruba Music Soars to Global Stage : ARPO Impact

Jenu Kuruba music leaps from village to global stage thanks to ARPO's 2-year collaboration. A dream realized, a community inspired.

J.B. Ramesh, a Jenu Kuruba tribesman, dreamt of preserving his people's traditional music and art. He founded the "Girijana Samagra Abhivridhi Kala Samsthe" to inspire younger generations to carry on the cultural traditions. However, in March 2024, Ramesh and his fellow musicians found themselves performing on a far grander stage: the prestigious Mahindra Percussion Festival.

This remarkable journey wouldn't have been possible without the involvement of ARPO, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering marginalized communities. The Jenu Kuruba musicians have been collaborating with ARPO since March 2022 as part of the Earthlore project. With ARPO's help, the Jenu Kuruba music reached a global audience. ARPO supported the Jenu Kuruba musicians by providing training, building audience interest, and finding opportunities for them to earn income from their music.

A Captivating Performance

Led by Charu Hariharan's quartet and collaborating with the vibrant sounds of Majeesh Karyaad's Kozhikode Nantahala Kootam group, the Jenu Kuruba musicians delivered a captivating performance at the Mahindra Percussion Festival, where many leading artists, including Grammy-winning ones, performed. The blend of Karnataka and Kerala percussion traditions -- comprising tribal, folk and classical instruments -- resonated deeply with the festival's celebration of India's diverse musical heritage. It was a moment etched in history, where the village rhythms of the Jenu Kuruba people found a new voice on a global stage.

A Heartfelt Expression of Gratitude

For the Jenu Kuruba tribe, this performance was a dream come true. Ramesh J.B. expressed his deepest gratitude to ARPO, stating, "We are incredibly grateful to ARPO for recognizing the value of our music and providing us with this platform. Without ARPO's support, this opportunity would have remained just a distant dream for our tribe."

Charu Hariharan, of Mahindra Festival, shared a message about their collaboration with the Jenu Kuruba musicians. "A collaboration between ARPO and my team of musicians (March 2022)  including Sreekanth Hariharan aimed to promote their music globally". 

Aligning with the ARPO’s mission

ARPO director, Sruthin Lal says, "At ARPO, we're especially delighted to see the Jenu Kuruba tribe, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), take center stage at the Mahindra Percussion Festival. In an age where mainstream music often dominates, it's crucial to recognize the immense potential of tribal artists and their unique traditions, especially those from vulnerable communities.”

“ Initially, when we began working with the Jenu Kuruba elders, they expressed concern about the younger generation's dwindling interest in their traditional music and art forms. But they are now showing greater interest in learning and carrying forward this precious cultural heritage. This is a testament to the power of cultural preservation and its ability to inspire future generations."


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