Arko Mukhaerjee, a trained North Indian classical singer and an urban folk artist from Calcutta, India, has been researching on the roots of Indian and Bengali folk and contemporary music.
One of the most unique vocalists from the independent folk music scene in India, Arko’s high tenor and natural husk, is unique to the sub –continental world music scene. Formally trained in Indian classical music from his parents, Arko is equally versatile with European, African, Middle – eastern, American and Indian folk songs along with blues, soul and several tribal music forms from India and Bengal in particular, which is what gives all his collaborations and projects, a unique blend of the tradition and the modern. He sings in more than 15 different languages and has been travelling all over Europe, collaborating with several other musicians in France, England and Germany and West Africa and has played in eminent music festivals in Europe, America, Bangladesh and Nepal. During his travelling time in Europe for the past 9 years, Arko has been playing with French folk and gypsy jazz musicians and African traditional artists. As a result of his love and passion for the blues, he is one of the very few Indian artists to have been programmed for blues festivals in France. He has also been extensively touring in England and East Europe with his ethno electronic musical collaboration called Ashram as a featured guest artist.
Arko has incorporated the bluegrass soundscape into his Indo – Irish musical duo called Crossover with Anna Tanvir, an Irish Harp player, by collaborating with Ben Krakauer, a banjo and fiddle player from the United States, Casey Driessen, a grammy nominee and a renowned American Fiddle player and Diptanshu Roy, the only traditional bluegrass artist from India. Arko was the front man and founder member of a very popular independent folk outfit from Calcutta called Fiddler’s Green, a Bengali folk band with the elements of bluegrass and Appalachian music along with Celtic, Afro Cuban, Middle Eastern, Jewish and gypsy folk soundscape. He has collaborated with renowned Gypsy Jazz guitar Maestro Daniel Givone and virtuoso Nepali jazz guitarist Hari Maharjan at the Nepal Gypsy Jazz festival consecutively in 2018 and 2019. From 2019, on account of several collaborations and independent tours, Arko decided to leave every other bands and go independent. He presently has his own flexible collective outfit compromising of five eminent musicians from Kolkata and is open to collaborations with traditional artists from all over the globe.
Arko also has a duo with Naomi Jean (Australia), an incredibly versatile percussionist, familiar with multiple world percussion. His duo along with Satyaki Banerjee, a phenomenal rabab, oud and dotara player and spiritual singer from Calcutta, have played together at the international sufi festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015, Dhaka International folk Festival 2015, Dhaka Weaver’s Festival 2016 and many more.
He has toured and played in multiple Indian music festivals, of which Nariyal Paani (2017), Ranthambhore Music and Wildlife Festival (2018 and 2019), Orange Music Festival, Arunachal Pradesh (2017 and 2018), Basar Confluence, 2018, Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2018, Yellow Taxi Festival Kolkata 2019, Pokhara Mahotsav, Nepal 2020 and Yomgo River Festival 2020 are a few to mention.
Arko is respected and regarded deeply in Nepal amongst all communities for reviving several stratas of Nepali folk music and was given a Gandharva Samman by the Gandharva community of Batulichor, Nepal for reintroducing the songs of Late Jhalakman Gandharva, a legendary folk artist of Nepal who came from the area. He is presently researching on Newari folk songs and the music of Master Mitrasen Thapa Magar, an eminent Nepali artist from early 20th Century.
He is also a popular playback singer having sung in several films, soaps and serials in Bengal and has been nominated for music awards in India for some of the songs.
Over the past many years Arko has been researching on the roots of Indian folk music and it’s vast history, trying to build a bridge between European, African and American folk music with the essential root music forms of India. A documentary called Bhorsha Thakuk Bangla Gaane was made in 2014, in Bangladesh, on his stories of travelling with music, discussing the evolution of Bengali folk music for the last 4 centuries.
Along with being a singer Arko plays the Kazoo , Balalaika, Dotara and the ukulele along with the guitar and harmonica. He has recorded and released albums with several other folk and electronic projects from India and Europe. He released his first solo Bengali folk album called Ghater Kotha in 2013. His 2015 album FIVE is an experimental folk album, based on collaborations with musicians from India and around the world. In 2018 he released his first original instrumental album (a text-image-music relations based experiment) called The Lion and the Hamster. In 2019 he released a purely field recording based album called Bondhur Bari.
Arko has traveled to the United Kingdom and the United States of America several times to play for different festivals organised by the Bengali associations.
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Arko's official name is Arka Mukherjee.
However as an artist he chooses to use the name Arko Mukhaerjee.