Music, Performing Arts, Traditional Arts
MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2020
Artist StatementThe artist is a Hindustani (North Indian) classical musician. Of Vedic-origin, Hindustani music has traveled over 500 centuries - uninterrupted, unwritten - through a master-apprenticeship tradition. It transcends religious, cultural, and geopolitical boundaries, celebrating convergence within diversity. The artist leverages her core practice of Hindustani music - “Khayal” and its rubrics, raga/melody- tala/rthythm-improvisation - in two ways. First, by venturing into diverse music genres: Nazrul Sangeet of Bengal, devotional compositions of Hinduism and Islam, contemporary New-Age rhythms of Asia, Africa, and the West, and dance-narration-combinations. Second, by linking music with contemporary issues of women’s empowerment, nature, religious unity, and wellness and sound-meditation nexuses.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and currently a resident of Maryland (USA), Dr. Samia Mahbub Ahmad is a Hindustani (North Indian) classical vocal musician who has been studying, teaching and performing this ancient 5000 year-old genre of music of the Vedic times, live and on television in North America, South Asia and Southern Africa for the past two decades. In the process, Samia has earned many awards and recognitions, including, performing for Nobel laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter.
Samia continues to practice this art form as: an independent artist; a Master Artist of the Maryland State Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Council of the Montgomery County; and as an arts-in-education consultant serving the Washington DC metro areas and beyond. These include the Smithsonian Institute; Strathmore Music-in-the-Mansion; as a winner of the Montpelier Arts Center Classical Recital Series Competition, 2010-12; many leading universities, both within the US and other countries.
Samia has apprenticed with Grandmasters Sri Tapan Baidya, a pioneer of this genre in Bangladesh, and Vidushi Sumitra Guha (Padma Shri awardee), one of India's premier classical vocalists. Samia has used her classical base to also specialize in Nazrul Sangeet, Bhajans, and New Age music, melding Hindustani classical music with contemporary melodies and rhythms of South Asia, South Africa, and the West. She has expanded her collaborative work to combine vocal music with dance choreography and visual arts. Samia's performances and teaching explore the notions of spiritual unity in religions that share a common cultural base.
Her published albums are "Srijana Chhande" (2003) - a tribute to the work of Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam of Bengal - and "Rasneem" (2014, global release) - a tribute to the new generation. Both albums are globally distributed and are available at numerous major sites including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and CD Baby. In addition, several of Samia's songs, composed and performed with Ismail Mohammed, one of South Africa's top musicians have been featured in "Tulku: Doors to Paradise" (2007) and "Tulku: The Way of the Mystique" (2009) -- both global compilations produced by Grammy winner Jim Wilson. These songs are soon to be re-released in a new album titled "Braids".
Samia holds an MA and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park (USA).