Prepare to witness one of the coolest guys to ever walk this planet... Daler Mehndi.
Daler Mehndi is a world renowned musician coming out of India. Not only is he involved in classic music including inventing a new instrument, but he's also a master of pop music. He started gaining popularity in the States when the video for his song Tunak Tunak Tun started going viral for it's colorful CGI set pieces, costumes, maniacal melodies, and entertaining dance moves.
Daler Singh (his real name) is a Sikh born in 1967. He's more than a musician, involved in promoting positive social interaction and respect for the environment. If you ask who gets the credit for Bhangra becoming popular, it's Daler. Bhangra is a Punjabi style of music that features upbeat pop styles, like you'll hear in the upcoming video below. Some go as far as to call him the father of the Indian pop music industry. He helped establish a non-Bollywood music scene that detached music from the film industry and let it stand on it's own. He's the man, basically.
Check out the video for Tunak Tunak Tun as you keep reading. It's the jam:
As you can see, his colorful turbans and robes give him such visual distinction that it's hard not to take notice and have fun. He's a breath of fresh air and positivity in an industry that promotes such low-level thought and the glorification of negativity. His dance moves in this video even made it into the World of Warcraft video game.
Everyone knew this man had talent when he represented India in the Voice of Asia International Ethnic & Pop Music Contest in 1994. Out of 200 contestants from nearly as many countries, Daler came in second place. That's pretty serious when you realize those 200 had already qualified in their own regions as the best around. He went on to win countless awards, sponsorships, and sell tens of millions of records.
My favorite thing about Daler Mehndi is his foundational contribution to creating a new genre called Rabbabi, a mix of Thumri, Sufi, and Rock! He also invented an instrument, the Swar Mandir, which is a hard thing to do in the present when it's all almost already been done. It's a twist on stringed instruments and not an entirely new thing, but it's pretty nifty. It's inspired by the Rabab, Swarmandal, and Tanpura. Bharat Ratna, the classic Indian maestro, presented the first official Swar Mandir to Ravi Shankar in 2012. Pretty cool stuff, honoring the legends.
Beyond only musical achievements, Daler has been a busy philanthropist. He's helped raise millions of dollars for charities related to specific illnesses that need further research, he's visited soldiers and earthquake victims to keep their morale high, he's helped plant over a million trees around Delhi, and funded the opening of a 24-hour food kitchen for the destitute and under-privileged. These are the kind of men we hope rise to the top, because they give back to the community that lifted them in the first place. Bravo, Mr. Mehndi.
Check out Daler's own website to hear and see more!