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For Songs for Many Lives: a Carnatic Diaspora Songbook, Sruti Sarathy and Roopa Mahadevan are composing a new Carnatic repertoire that reflects contemporary concerns of South Asian Americans. The musicians are partnering with Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (the Alliance), an organization dedicated to civic engagement of South Asians in the Bay Area with an emphasis on advocating for those with marginalized identities.

For content, the artists will rely on community engagement and oral histories gathered through the Alliance’s networks. They write, “By gathering diverse voices that speak to our times, and integrating those into new Carnatic songs, we reimagine the Carnatic form through the lenses of community-building, social consciousness, and polyvocality.”

Artists Sruti Sarathy and Roopa Mahadevan, both Bay Area natives, are diasporic practitioners of Carnatic music, a formalized, devotional, and classical form of South India: They trained rigorously in the guru-shishya parampara, the traditional method of oral learning. When the songs have been recorded, the artists will share them through live performances and online media with the Alliance’s community networks, the Indian classical arts community, and the broader South Asian American community.

Photo by Sandra Herchen