EXPIRED: 12/25/09 – Asheem Chakravarty, 52, singer and percussionist of contemporary fusion music band Indian Ocean. He’s had heart problems for a short while now, so it wasn’t totally unexpected, but the band was just coming into it’s own worldwide and breaking out of it’s Indian–only audience.
Indian Ocean fans call Chakravarty “the man with the golden voice.”
Indian Ocean, based in Delhi, India, started nearly 20 years ago when Chakravarty met guitarist Susmit Sen and their jams turned into concerts. They had no vocalist but soon were joined by Shaleen Sharma on drums and Rahul Ram on bass. Their first CD, Kolkata, took over a year to create and a slow acceptance of their music lost them their drummer, replacing Shaleen with Amit Kilam. But they were on their way.
As they added vocals to their jams, they grew in popularity, and by 1997, they quit their day jobs, and put out a live album, Desert Rain, which was a big seller for the band.
Their next CDs, Kandisa and Jhini, went on to become the best-loved albums produced in India. The band soon left Indian shores for the first time ever in August 2001 to play in London and Scotland and played 37 concerts across 4 continents in 2002.
They followed this by composing music for their first major full-length feature film in early 2004: Black Friday, the first full-length Bollywood film of Indian Ocean and their most successful album to date.
Part of Indian Ocean’s unique sound was Chakravarty’s rhythmic ability, something he picked up at an early age with no formal training. Chakravarty sang and played tabla simultaneously, a difficult feat rare by Indian percussionists. His rhythm structures were unique and contributed a large part to Indian Ocean’s signature sound. He improvised vocal lines while on stage and was innovative with traditional Indian percussion instruments.
Back in October 2009, Chakravarty was hospitalized in Doha after suffering a heart attack and was in a state of coma for a brief period, but was on the road to recovery. However, this afternoon he passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest in New Delhi.
An integral part of the band, the loss of Chakravarty now casts an uncertain shadow over the Indian Ocean’s future.