Humanitarian, environmentalist, and spiritualist, looking locally with an eye on globality. If ever there was a need for these values, now is the time. Looking out for your fellow human being and nature itself. To be able to look inwards and outwards. The Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948), was exactly that. “He’s still ahead of his time, still a futurist. His philosophy is exactly what we need now-a-days” says Rão Kyao.
The music of Portuguese flute player and composer has been faithful to this message. Music that exudes Portuguese roots as much as universality, an invitation to dive within ourselves but also to be aware of our surroundings. It’s in this frame of mind that “Respeito pela Natureza” (Respect for Nature) was born, Rão Kyao’s first single of the new album, that pays homage to the man and the mind of Gandhi, in time for the celebration of the 150 years since his birth.
The album, Gandhi – Um Português Homenageia Gandhi (Ghandi – A Portuguese honors Gandhi), framed as a Portuguese interpretation of Gandhi himself, is available in May. Here’s the story behind it… It started off as a dare, Indian authorities invited 124 countries to choose an artist to recreate Vaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye, the tune Gandhi most listened to, and that has become the unofficial national anthem for that country.
“It was then that the Indian embassy reached out to me to create my version of that tune, based on the fact that I studied there for 10 years and my music is heavily influenced by Indian culture” says Kyao, who was able to get an immediate reaction from a surprising source, as prime minister Narendra Modi referenced and published the song on all his social networks.
From then on, from the initial dive into Indian culture and Gandhi’s philosophy to the finished album, it was all very quick, though it’ll only be released in May. For now, we have “Respect for Nature” (Respeito pela Natureza), the single that delves into decades of experience playing for a transgenerational audience, through his instrumental music able to transport us to India, without ever leaving Portuguese textures and rhythms, in a journey that, at the end of it all, is into ourselves. Peaceful music, but active in its charms, such is the manner of Gandhi’s philosophy.
Behold, the art of who started in the world of ambience jazz, and launched himself onto the world, from the Orient to Africa, from Europe to the Americas, armed with flutes made from bamboo. An ambassador of Portuguese soul. A career over 50 years long, baring a lot of records, such is the successful Fado Bailado (1983), many meetings and collaborations, many moments for learning (he studied with Indian musical masters, as well as having played with great Chinese orchestras, and recorded with flamenco’s top artists) and inspiration (from fado to flamenco, as presented in Delírios Ibéricos with the Spanish artists Ketama) that make him the most universal of all the Portuguese musicians.
He’s not stopped in the last 20 years, gaining critical support and favor with the audience with works such as Fado Virado a Nascente (2001), Porto Alto (2004) ou Coisas Que a Gente Sente (2012), never slowing down in his quest to travel the world, while still collecting honors like the Order of the Infante Henrique (2007), and a commendation from the Arts and Science Academy in Paris (2011) assigned by the French state.
The spirituality, the cross culturality, his sense of environmentalism and his meditative music, make him, all these years later, a profoundly contemporary figure. As was Gandhi, whom he now honors.