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On The Table Read, the “Best Entertainment Celebrity Magazine in the UK“, Red Baraat’s Sonny Singh releases debut solo album, Chardi Kala.

Sonny Singh of Red Baraat’s debut solo record is called, “Chardi Kala,” the Sikh concept of revolutionary eternal optimism. Even in the toughest of times, Sikhs have a spiritual and political obligation to remain in high spirits. This album is a reminder that hope, love, and devotion are crucial to our struggles and our collective survival. “Chardi Kala” is a musical autobiography, but isn’t specifically about Sonny Singh at all—it’s about what inspires and grounds us in the darkest of times.

Red Baraat’s Sonny Singh on The Table Read
Sonny Singh

Red Baraat

For over a decade, Sonny Singh has brought his fiery trumpet playing and lead vocals to audiences around the world in Red Baraat. An original member of the Brooklyn Bhangra outfit, he’s been able to globally connect with fans and share love and joy through his music. 

Sonny is taking the next step now, launching a solo project that reimagines Sikh kirtan with boundary-defying Punjabi anthems to uplift and ignite. Produced by three-time Grammy winner Wil-Dog Abers of Ozomatli, the new album represents a return to Sonny’s early Punjabi & Sikh roots, as seen now through the lens of his experiences as a touring musician, educator, and activist.

“Musically, this project embodies the many spiritual, political, and aesthetic elements that have shaped me,” Sonny explains.  “Every song has an original vibe to it, eclectic and unique, from a bolero-mariachi Sikh shabad on one track, to a qawwali song with a reggae bass line on another, then a bombastic Ghadar Party tribute in Punjabi and Spanish on yet another.” 

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Chardi Kala

Pushing the boundaries of Sikh kirtan and South Asian spiritual music, “Chardi Kala” provides listeners with an experience of both introspective reflection and fervent urgency. 

It’s the first time anyone has ever done an album setting Sikh devotional songs to this style of music, a feat not lost on Sonny who recalls singing them in his childhood. Pioneering a fresh sound with a timeless message has made this solo project even more meaningful to the veteran musician, who considers his activism and work as a social justice educator part of his spiritual practice as well, upholding the Sikh values of tearing down oppression and fighting for justice.

“Music is a huge part of my spiritual practice. It is exciting to be able to share these shabads [devotional songs] with the world. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with someone as talented as Wil-Dog to bring this vision to life,” Sonny says. 

Wil-Dog, a longtime musical friend of the artist, expressed his enthusiasm at being able to introduce Sonny’s solo sound to an eager audience as well as new fans yet to discover the talented artist.

“This is a project I’ve been excited about for awhile,” says Wil-Dog. “Sonny’s music is epic and it transcends genres. It’s not just for Sikh or South Asian listeners—there is something inspiring in it for everyone.”

Sonny Singh on The Table Read
Sonny Singh

Many of the lyrics on this album come from Gurbani (Sikh devotional poetry) and Sufi poetry set to Sonny’s original music. While these words were mostly written in the 16th and 17th Centuries, their message of denouncing tyranny, oppression, and dogmatic ideologies, while uplifting oneness and justice resonates deeply today.

About Sonny Singh

Sonny Singh has brought his fiery trumpet playing and vocals to audiences around the world for the last decade as an original member of the Brooklyn Bhangra outfit Red Baraat. In 2020, he launched a new solo project inspired by Sikh kirtan with boundary-defying Punjabi anthems to uplift & ignite. 

Sonny’s first musical outlet as a child of immigrant parents in North Carolina was singing Sikh devotional music in gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship). His energy shifted to other types of music as he became a more serious musician: ska, reggae, funk, punk rock, bhangra, and more. In 2003, Sonny co-founded the political rock band Outernational and recorded an album produced by Tom Morello. As a singer and trumpet player, he has been central to the sound and raw energy of Red Baraat since the band’s inception in 2008, touring globally and recording 5 studio albums. Sonny has also performed with notable artists including Michael Franti & Spearhead, Ozomatli, Toshi Reagon, Arooj Aftab, Ankur Tewari, The Ska Vengers, and DJ Rekha. 

Spiritual Music

In the winter of 2018, feeling a sense of despair in the wake of white supremacist acts of terror in the US and the rising tide of fascism globally, he started returning to kirtan. Sonny revisited some of the shabads he learned as a child and made short Instagram videos singing them and playing trumpet, dhol, percussion, and harmonium. He found it cathartic to dig back into this rich spiritual-musical tradition that had been bubbling beneath the surface of his creative voice for years.

Sonny Singh on The Table Read
Sonny Singh

Soon he started diving into more Gurbani (Sikh devotional poetry) and Sufi poetry and began writing his own music to these beautiful and provocative verses written by Kabir, Guru Arjan, Baba Farid, and Guru Gobind Singh, to name a few.

Much of this poetry he sings on the album was written hundreds of years ago, but the message of denouncing tyranny, oppression, and dogmatic ideologies while uplifting Oneness, Divine Love, and radical equality resonates deeply in our current times.

Sonny’s music is a reminder that hope, love, and devotion are crucial to our struggles and our collective survival. His debut album, “Chardi Kala” is a return to Sonny’s Punjabi & Sikh roots, but with the lens he’s developed over the course of his life as a touring musician, educator, and activist.

Sonny Singh’s music has been previously featured on NPR, Rolling Stone India and HuffPost.

Album Credits:

Sonny Singh – vocals, trumpet, dhol (tracks 8 & 10), harmonium (tracks 1 & 6) 
Wil-Dog Abers – bass, guitar (tracks 4 & 8)
Jonathan Goldberger – guitar (tracks 1-3, 6, 7, 9-11) 
Nadav Peled – guitar (tracks 5 & 7)
Michael Dwan Singh – sarangi (track 1) 
Dominic Johnson – violin (tracks 2 & 6) 
Jake Leckie – acoustic bass (tracks 2 & 6) 
Carey Frank – keyboard (tracks 2, 4, 5, 8 & 9)
Anantvir Singh – harmonium (tracks 4, 5, 8, & 9) 
Ernest Stuart – trombone (tracks 1 & 8) 
Miwi La Lupa – bass trumpet (track 10) 
Daro Behroozi – bass clarinet (track 3), tenor saxophone (track 10) 
Warren Huang – tenor saxophone (tracks 2 & 8) 
Estevan Sanchez – sousaphone (track 8) 
Mario Calire – drumset (tracks 2, 4, 5, 8, 10) 
Dave Sharma – drumset (tracks 1 & 3), dholki & percussion (tracks 1, 3 & 10), mandolin (track 1) 
Neelamjit Dhillon – tabla & kanjira (tracks 2, 4, 5, & 9), alto saxophone (tracks 2, 4, 5, & 8) 
Justin Poreé – drums & percussion (track 7) 
Ganavya – vocals (tracks 2 & 9) 
Roopa Mahadevan – vocals (track 6) 
Ria Modak – backing vocals (tracks 4, 6 & 8) 
Basim Usmani – backing vocals (tracks 8 & 9) 
Ashni Davé – backing vocals (track 8) 
Ali Mir – poetry vocals (track 10) 
Sham-e-Ali Nayeem – poetry vocals (track 10) 

April 14th: Aisee Preet

“Aisee Preet” is Sonny Singh’s original, brass and percussion-forward composition of a Sikh shabad (devotional poem) penned by Guru Arjan, the fifth poet-saint leader of the Sikhs, in the 16th Century. Sonny’s rendition, produced by Wil-Dog Abers of Ozomatli, pushes the boundaries of Sikh kirtan and South Asian spiritual music with a sonic palette rooted in Punjabi folk music coupled with a rock sensibility. The bouncy grooves of classic dholki, dhad, and chimta explode into a an anthemic half-time chorus laden with sarangi, electric guitar, and brass while Sonny sings the refrain, “Enshrine such love, oh my mind, that 24 hours a day the Divine will be near.”  

May 13th: Album Relese Date

Find more from Sonny Singh:

Sonny Singh: Website || Facebook || Bandcamp || Instagram

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