Environmentalist and award-winning musician Ricky Kej. (Photo: surreyfusionfestival.ca)

Grammy winner, environmental activist Ricky Kej plays Surrey

The award-winning musician collaborated with dozens of musicians at Surrey’s Fusion Festival

Award-winning musician and environmental activist Ricky Kej says he “absolutely loves Surrey” after playing in the city for the first time in late July.

Kej — who won a Grammy in 2015 and this year was named in the United Nations’ Real Leaders 100 List — performed his “Music for the Planet” at Surrey’s Fusion Festival at Holland Park on July 22, and put on an earlier July 20 show at SFU Surrey for campus executive director Stephen Dooley and a “select audience.”

“From childhood, I’ve always been a strong environmentalist,” Kej told the Now-Leader. “After winning a Grammy, the Indian Prime Minister called to congratulate me. He encouraged me to stop everything else and just focus on the environment, and climate change, and to make this my life’s mission. I took that very seriously, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

See also: Surrey City Orchestra idea hits right notes with backers

In all, the Surrey concerts involved more than 50 artists including members from the Surrey City Orchestra, a new creation headed by Ellen Farrugia.

Kej also played along with with Padma Shree Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (India), Grammy nominee Ron Korb (Canada, flautist), Grammy winner Jennifer Gasoi (Canada, singer/songwriter), Grammy nominee Rocky Dawuni (Ghana, singer/songwriter), Grammy nominee Lonnie Park (USA, singer/vocalists), Hai Phuong (Vietnam).

From India were Chaitra H G, Manoj George (violinist), Nirmal Antonty (drummer) and Muthu Kumar (tabla, percussion) from India.

All of the musicians learned their parts, co-ordinating over Skype, with just one rehearsal together the day before.

“The two concerts were kind of amazing. I love doing larger public gathers, because all my music is about the environment and raising awareness to climate change. That’s what I’ve dedicated my life to,” said Kej. “But I also like intimate audiences of people who can bring about change on a large scale. I was very fortunate to do both of these kinds of shows in Surrey.”

See also: No plastic straws, cutlery allowed at Fusion Festival this year

Kej performed music from his latest album “Shanti Samsara,” which was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of France Francois Hollande in the presence of world leaders at the Paris COP21 Summit.

But the performances included a mix of old and new music, and Kej said he introduced his version of the Canadian anthem while in Surrey.

“I did an instrumental version, and all my concerts are always accompanied by large visuals,” Kej elaborated. “It featured all the wonderful animals. I always believe a country is not just the humans that are living in the country, and that’s the narrative that needs to change.”

“These are the unsung and true citizens of this country,” he said of animals. “It was quite a powerful moment in the concert.”

Kej revealed that Surrey’s Fusion Fest was the first time he’s ever played a festival.

“It’s complicated,” he said of his set-up. “It becomes difficult if there are multiple bands setting up on a stage.”

But things went off without a hitch in Surrey, and Kej hopes to return for another performance one day.

See also: Surrey’s Khanvict wants to steal the show at Fusion Festival

Kej’s life and journey is taught to seventh grade children in India, as part of English textbooks.

He was the first person of Indian origin to debut at number one on the US Billboard New Age Albums Chart in 2014, with his 14th studio album.

Kej said one project that’s close to his heart are 27 children’s songs about the environment and sustainability he’s helped create, which are to be distributed in more than one million textbooks throughout India in 2019.

“When you’re talking about environmental consciousness, you need to start with children. Songs you learn at childhood are songs you remember until the day you die,” he said. “It’s completely non-commercial, and I’ve put all the songs in the public domain.”

See the series at myearthsongs.com, and learn more about Kej at rickykej.com.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

Torched-SUV victim ‘had the purest heart,’ says sister

Family of teen found in burned SUV in Surrey appeals for justice

United Way to bring little libraries to Clayton

United Way is hoping to partner with residents to host the free gathering spaces for the community

Delta to give Deltassist $75,000 for seniors programs

The funding will replace a grant from United Way that’s set to expire next year

In split vote, Surrey council gives early nod to draft budget

Councillors Locke, Pettigrew, Hundial and Annis vote against capital program

White Rock sandcastle competition on the rocks

Backers of the proposal – the White Rock Events Society – plan to call it quits

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

Most Read