Word Sound Power
Word Sound Power, formed in 2010, is a New Delhi based collective that constructs multimedia collaborations with South Asian artists on issues of social justice. Armed with a mobile studio, electronic music producer Chris McGuinness and dancehall artist Delhi Sultanate travel across South Asia, recording sounds and songs of resistance and creating new music with revolutionary musicians. The process is filmed by Kush Badhwar. Each project culminates in a musical album and documentary. The media is freely distributed, exhibited, and remixed by a global network of artists.
Word Sound Power has created three projects to date: WSP1 The Bant Singh Project (Punjab, India, 2010), WSP2 Blood Earth (Odisha, India, 2011), and WSP3 Gaddar (Telangana, India, 2012).
Bant Singh Project
In June 2010, Word Sound Power visited Jabbar village, Mansa, Punjab and collaborated with Bant Singh, an iconic Dalit Sikh singer, CPI-ML party member, and Mazdoor Mukti Morcha activist. Despite a savage attack in 2006 that cost him his limbs, Bant Singh continues to organize poor laborers and inspire many with songs of rebellion. The Bant Singh Project film, shot by Lakshman Anand, directed by Samrat B., and edited by Sourav Brahmachari, was screened at Goethe Institute New Delhi in October 2010. The musical album was released in January 2011 and a remix compilation featuring Dr. Das, Subatomic Sound System, Nucleya, and Dubblestandart was released in March 2011. The Bant Singh Project has been featured on AFP, MTV, and BBC Radio One. A song on Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, sung by Bant Singh and featuring Jamaican legend Sizzla Kalonji is set for 2013 release.
Shubha Mudgal/Live Mint
In August 2011, Word Sound Power journeyed to Kucheipadar village, Kashipur, Odisha and collaborated with indigenous artists who use music to resist the corporate mining of their homeland. Kashipur is rich in bauxite, a mineral that nourishes magnificent forests and fertile fields which are held sacred by the Konds. Bauxite is also the ore of aluminium, and since India's economic liberalization policies of 1991, has been the subject of violent conflict between tribals, extractive industry, and the state. In Kashipur, a tribal-organized human rights movement emerged with music serving as a tool for mobilization and self-empowerment.
Word Sound Power collaborated on songs in Oriya and the unscripted Kui language with singers Bhagwan Majhi, Lima Majhi, and Salu Majhi. Bhwagwan Majhi, political leader of the Prakrutik Sampada Surakshya Parisad, spearheaded the revolt with fervent songs. Lima Majhi, a farmer-turned-singer, sang from village to village to build solidarity and unify protesters. Salu Majhi, an older, blind singer and repository of Kond folklore, sang epic, mythical poems about the shifting structures of power and identity from former periods into the present.
The struggle of Kashipur is one episode of many occurring in the world today, in which narratives of development are spun for elite gain at the cost of human abandonment.