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Nitin Sawhney awarded a CBE for services to music in New Year’s Honours List

Nitin Sawhney awarded a CBE for services to music in New Year’s Honours List

Prominent polymath reveals late father’s shadow loomed large over honour…

COMPOSER and songwriter Nitin Sawhney has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

The multi-talented musical figure revealed on Twitter that he had turned down an OBE a few years back.

A letter about his CBE arrived on his late father’s birthday and it seemed like an omen, Sawhney revealed.

He revealed his father’s death in 2013 had been the ‘inspiration’ for his 2015 album. ‘Dystopian Dream’ played just two nights at Sadler’s Wells, but was deemed a huge success and the acv team who saw it thought it a remarkable achievement. It is a dance intrepretation of his album.

Sawhney spoke to in late November about his one-off show, adapting his album, ‘Dystopian Dream’ to the stage at Sadler’s Wells, the home of British dance, and where Sawhney has been an associate artist since 2010.

Sawhney’s musical score also features in the latest ‘Mowgli – Legend of the Jungle’ release on Netflix – and made by actor and motion capture specialist, Andy Serkis.

Sawhney said he identified a lot with Mowgli’s own situation caught between two worlds. For Mowgli, it was the jungle and the ‘man’ village – for Sawhney it was Britain and his Indian heritage.

In Rudyard Kipling’s story, Mowgli is boy brought up in the jungle by wolves, but realises that he must one day leave this environment to become a man. Sawhney talks about the music that reflects this in an interview with the website, The Annotator – (See the link below please).

Serkis and Sawhney had worked previously on the 2017 film, ‘Breathe’.

Sawhney has an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award (2017) and his music has featured on more than 50 films and he has worked with musicians such as Sir Paul McCartney, and AR Rahman.

His career has crossed genres many times – he was one of the early creators of a show that would later become ‘Goodness Gracious Me (GGM)’ – the BBC’s seminal 1990s comedy show.

Sawhney friend and eventual GGM key member, Sanjeev Bhasker had initially launched a comedy show, ‘Secret Asians’ and the pair had started playing comedy clubs. It was picked up and developed by producer Anil Gupta.

Sawhney’s first forays in music were with the development of what came to be known as the Asian Underground.

A new genre of tunes, club anthems and dance tracks mixing both Eastern and Western rhythms.

Today, he is also involved with developing sounds for video games and virtual reality scenarios.

His artistic philosophy is to remain open and alive to the possibilities of communication through music.

From the biography section on his own website (link below), he says: “It’s about how you engage with yourself and the world around you. That’s dynamic, so the way you think should be dynamic, and the way you express yourself. So from that point of view, I’m just open to what happens next and how music is going to enable me to absorb and give back.”

He is one of the most versatile musicians working today, able to turn his hand to many media, whether it be film, dance, drama or TV.

• For other non-arts New Year’s Honour List, click here

*OTHER personalities from the arts and media world named in this year’s honours list (2019) were:

SUJATA BANERJEE (pictured left), a leading Kathak dancer was awarded an MBE for her services to dance. A choreographer, performer and teacher, she set up her company, Sujata Banerjee Dance Company, after relocating from near Kolkata to Britain in 1982.

Another prominent dance figure, PRATAP PAWAR, was also awarded an MBE. Pawar has been primarily a teacher and mentor in his later years, but first began performing Kathak as a young man in India. He travelled the world as a Kathak performer and settled in the UK in the 1970s. He is probably best known for being Akram Khan’s guru and the man who first introduced him to the dance form. Khan is one of the most significant global dance figures residing in Britain today and has helped to put Kathak and Indian dance on the global map.
Surinderpal Singh Lit, better known as TONY LIT, and the managing director of Sunrise Radio was awarded an MBE for his for services to the British Asian community.
Lit, the son of founder Avtar, is a prominent figure in the Asian media and was delighted to have been awarded an MBE.
He thanked his family and friends for the support they had shown him, through both good times and bad. He also thanked the contributions of staff at Sunrise and the listeners to the radio station.


Nitin Sawhney website

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture