Kuljit Bhamra

Kuljit Bhamra
MBE
Kuljit Bhamra
Kuljit Bhamra MBE
Background information
Born1959 (age 58–59)
Nairobi
OriginSouthall, UK
GenresBhangra, Indian Classical, World Music, Jazz, Crossover
Occupation(s)Percussionist, record producer, composer
InstrumentsTabla, percussion
Years active1965 – present
LabelsKeda Records
Associated actsKu-Da-Mix Orchestra, Taala

Kuljit Bhamra MBE Hon DMus (born 1959) is a British composer, record producer and musician whose main instrument is the tabla. He is best known as one of the record producers who pioneered the British Bhangra sound and for his many collaborations with musicians from different genres and continents. His MBE was awarded in the Queen's Birthday Honour's List 2009 with the citation For services to Bhangra and British Asian Music. In July 2010 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate by the University of Exeter.

Early life and influences

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1959, His grandfather was an Indian artisan sent to Kenya by the British Raj. Bhamra contracted polio when he was one year old, which affected his left leg. This disability eventually led him to play the tabla whilst seated (similar to a drummer playing a drum kit) rather than seated on the floor – the usual practice for tabla players.

Bhamra's father had gone to England to study civil engineering and in 1961 Kuljit and his mother joined him there. In 1968 they settled in Southall which has been Bhamra's home town ever since.

Bhamra taught himself to play the tabla at the age of six and accompanied his mother, Mohinder Kaur Bhamra, who was a popular singer at weddings and public functions. Later, with Bhamra's two brothers playing accordion and mandolin, Mohinder Kaur recorded a number of albums that became successful – being sold through a network of corner shops in the Asian community.

On the insistence of his father, Bhamra trained as a civil engineer at Middlesex University and then worked for Richmond Council for a while.[1][2][3][4]

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