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Zakir Hussain Seamlessly Blends Indian And Celtic Music

Zakir Hussain

At first blush, the combination of sounds in Zakir Hussain's Pulse of the World: Celtic Connections band might seem unlikely.

Hussain is a master of the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument. He has won Grammy Awards and accolades from a variety of sources, and has collaborated with everyone from YoYo Ma to Bela Fleck. 

But most recently, Hussain’s interests grew to include music from the Celtic traditions. The result is a beautiful combination of Indian and Celtic instruments that intersect naturally in what may be at first unlikely similarities.

Hussain and his musical group are kicking off their U.S. tour in Milwaukee Friday night at the Pabst Theater. Lake Effect's Bonnie North caught up with Hussain to discuss how the band came together and his growing interest in expanding and partnering different musical traditions.

"I cannot take credit for being the source provider of tunes or songs. Everyone in the band contributed and that's what makes it special," Hussain says. "Even though I'm familiar with the Celtic music, I'm not as deeply involved in where it came from, what it represents, and the reverence of it, and the respect needed to be given to it as an art form. I need somebody to tell me that, and to be able to have musicians from that part of the world come in and speak actually teaches me much more about the culture than I would ever learn by just listening to the music."

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.