Last year was also a year for dreams to come true. 2015 had a bit of fairy dust sprinkled throughout the year. In March, we were covered by the Huffington Post (Riyaaz Qawwali on Huff), NPR (Riyaaz Qawwali on NPR), TV Asia and other Texas and California media outlets. Each of the outlets took their unique angle and shared our journey. All of them had one thing in common- they highlighted the power of qawwali and its rich haritage that we were humbly trying to revive. The Huffington Post and NPR highlighted our special journey through the new music that we are composing, including a song on the Mother Divine.
We remember walking into the NPR Studios. It was surreal. We were walking through the halls of the station which many of us listened to with our parents on drives back to and from school. The interview took place with 3 of us in the studio with Annastasia, who was the anchor from NPR. Little did we know, she knew so much about qawwali, devotional music and we really connected with each other not only about what the music represented but also where Riyaaz Qawwali was trying to take it with our unique South Asian American heritage.
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation was the first grant that the group indirectly received, which made our 1st tour possible! The Foundation announced 35 grants through it’s ArtsCONNECT program for presenters in the DC, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. While the 1st part of the tour took place in October of 2015, in March we will continue the second leg of the tour. Concerts are scheduled for the University of Rochester, Garrison Institute and at the Roulette, which will be curated by the famous presenter Robert Browning. In the same grant-related spirit, the Texas Touring Arts Program (by TCA) renewed Riyaaz Qawwali’s spot on their roster of official Texas Artists. This enables Texas nonprofits to get financial assistance for public programing where Riyaaz Qawwali is presented.
Lastly, Riyaaz Qawwali made its Massachusetts and California debuts last year. For Massachusetts, we debuted in Boston with the American Federation for Muslims of Indian Origin. AFMI celebrated their Silver Jubilee where some known Indian TV personalities and alumni of Harvard University were in attendance. In California, we debuted in Santa Barbara for the Live Oaks Music Festival. This marked our first trip to the West coast and we look forward to more across 2016!