The Dosti Music Project is an initiative of the Embassy of the United States inIslamabad, Pakistan & produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation in partnership with Atlantic Center for the Arts happening from February 22nd till March 11, 2016 at Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL.


Tour Concerts:
March 4 at 7pm – Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL

March 11 at 7pm – Timucua White House, Orlando, FL

March 12 at 3pm – Trinity Church for Savannah Stopover Music Festival, Savannah, GA

March 19 at 7pm – Bessie Smith Center, Chattanooga, TN

Now in its second year, the Dosti Music Project brings together ten musicians fromPakistan, India, and the U.S. for a month-long (February 22-March 24, 2016) residency and tour. The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan organized and sponsored the program produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation, which invites six Pakistanis, two Indians, and two U.S. musicians from a wide variety of traditions, ranging from Sufi singing to beatmaking to avant garde jazz, to collaboratively write, record, and perform original music, reinvent traditional music, and develop initiatives that will make a positive impact on communities locally and internationally. Dosti, which means friendship in both Urdu and Hindi, transcends political barriers through cross-cultural musical collaboration.

The program begins with a three-week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL from February 22-March 11 including two public performances on March 4 (Atlantic Center for the Arts) and March 11 (Timucua White House, Orlando). The Dosti Music Project continues with performances on March 12 at the Savannah Stopover Music Festival at Trinity Church in Savannah, Georgia and on March 19 at the Bessie Smith Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For tour concert details visit

Through the process of sharing, listening, and collaborating, the Dosti musician delegates will model a creative, cooperative, and egalitarian cultural exchange betweenIndia, Pakistan, and the United States – providing a positive template for cross-national discourse and people-to-people diplomacy. By providing musicians from India andPakistan the infrastructure for collaboration and integration, Dosti creates a unique opportunity to reconnect musical traditions and re-link the politically fractured South Asian subcontinent. By facilitating the project in the U.S. and including American musicians, the U.S. participates as capacity-builders and as equal partners, establishing a model of cultural interaction that can positively impact diplomatic and political discourses.

The cultures of India and Pakistan are deeply interconnected, yet creating opportunities for people-to-people contact can be challenging. Still, music has always served as a binding force in South Asia: Bollywood is wildly popular on both sides of the border, just as ghazal singers attract audiences in both countries and across the region. Indians and Pakistanis have an immense shared cultural experience upon which to build new collaborations – the Dosti Music Project provides a space for that to happen.

The Dosti Music Project 2016 Fellows:

ABAKIS, Singer-songwriter, USA

Abakis (born Abigail Kiser) is a singer/songwriter living in Port Townsend, Washington, who creates collaborative music that bridges new and old worlds: a delicate blend of classic soul led by powerhouse vocals and Kottke-style fingerpicking guitar. Born and bred in Virginia where she learned to sing jazz in her father’s restaurant, Aba migrated westward to find collaborators in the woodland pockets of Washington State where she finished a degree in Integrative Media at the Evergreen State College. In 2010 upon being offered a role in a theatrical production she moved New York City where she released her debut album “I’m One Too”. The nuanced complexity of her raw folk songs expanded to contain an entire orchestra thanks to collaborator and producer Kate Copeland. After a sojourn in Brooklyn and points east, Aba has returned to Washington state to once again make the northwest her home. Between practicing with her growing ensemble and touring locally, she works as an Events Organizer for local food initiatives and Administrative Director of the PT Music Project: a collaborative network of concert producers in Port Townsend, WA.

DARBUKA SIVA, Percussionist, India

Darbuka Siva, is an actor, musician, music producer and a radio jockey based in Chennai,India. After dropping out of college to pursue music, Siva started his performing career in 2002 with Oikyotaan, an outfit that experimented with Bengali Baul music. This experience shaped up Siva’s musical approach, inspiring him to go searching for his own sound, which he began to explore with his group Yodhakaa, a contemporary Indian classical music group that worked with ancient Sanskrit texts. In 2007, Siva joined Radio Mirchi as an RJ and producer, where he hosted a research based show about traditional Tamil folk music. This later became the inspiration for him to create the collaborative folk music project la pongal. Around this time, Siva also started Artseek, a platform that primarily works as a support system for local Independent musicians looking for assistance on various aspects of their creative work. In 2013, he was selected as a participant in OneBeat, Dosti’s sibling project that brings together 25 musicians from more than 15 countries for one month of collaboration. Returning to Chennai after OneBeat, Siva was picked for a new trade by way of a feature film role in Tamil movie Rajathanthiram, which led him to some more film projects. Currently, he is working on Darbuka Siva bro’ject, a collection of various expressions that truly represent his current state-of-mind through sights, sounds and collaborations inspired by people, places and experiences all along.

FAT BIRD, Multi-instrumentalist, Pakistan

Fat Bird is the solo project of Danish Khawaja, a multi-instrumentalist from Lahore, specializing in guitar. As a 12-year-old, he remembers sitting with older, more seasoned musicians and just listening, absorbing everything he heard and quietly learning. This kind of patient dexterity is now a hallmark of his playing. My friends were my teachers,” he says. “People I’d see performing would inspire me and I could watch them play for hours and soak it all up. I made lots of musical friends at an early age who have all been a part of my growth as an artist over the last decade. For six years, Danish was a member of lauded indie rock band Poor Rich Boy, with whom he toured the US as part of the State Department program CenterStage, took part in the renowned South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, and recorded two full-length albums. Danish has also recorded on albums for well-regarded musicians like Zeb and Haniya, Dosti 2015 Fellow Natasha Ejaz, and Mai Dhai, and given his talents to film scores and TV commercial spots.


Debasmita Bhattacharya is an accomplished sarod player from Kolkata, West Bengal. She was first inspired to pick up the instrument at age six by her father, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya, a renowned sarod player. “Being a lady,” she writes, “it was really challenging for me to grab ‘Sarod’ as a classical instrument for my musical journey, as it is considered as a male dominated instrument…I accepted the challenge and every morning I try to prove myself by improving my playing that ‘Music’ has no boundaries and it is only for the human.” Debasmita is currently a scholar at the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy(SRA) and has won many accolades, including first prize in the “Sangeet Praveen” competition in 2008 and top prizes at the Doverlane Music Competition and the Rajya Sangeet Academy Competition, both in 2013. More recently, in June and July 2015, Debasmita was one of 100 musicians selected to participate in Ethno Sweden. Furthermore, she is a part of ‘SPICMACAY’ (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Among Youth), with a special focus on their Rural School Intensive, in which she conducts workshops and musical training with kids. She hopes to bring this initiative to other states in India, and beyond.


Kaethe Hostetter is a violin player based in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. She comes from a family steeped in musical tradition: her father is a luthier, working on violins and fretted instruments of all kinds; her mother, a classically trained pianist and cellist, is also versed in folk music of several varieties. In attending fiddle camps as a child, she was exposed to violins of all kinds– in Mexican music, in Cajun music, Balkan, Klezmer, Albanian, Quebecois, etc. It is no surprise, then, that Kaethe is well versed in Ethiopian music, leading to the creation of the successful groove outlet Debo Band, which she and an Ethiopian-American friend founded in 2006. In 2009, the band was invited to play a music festival in Addis Ababa, where they were introduced to traditional musicians and dancers who they subsequently collaborated with. As she hung out with mesenqo players during the day and attending their performances at night, she  was introduced to new scales, a new approach to improvising, a new approach to phrasing and pitch and tradition and pop music and so much more. As a result, her violin playing shows incredible technique, musicality, and the influence of a rich tapestry of genres and cultures.

ANIL SUNNY, Tabla player, Pakistan

Anil Sunny is a young and promising tabla player from Sialkot, Punjab. He received his training under Ustad Jimi Khan and has been practicing since the age of ten. Anil has performed with leading classical singers and instrumentalists and won a number of accolades, including first prize at a talent competition organized by the PakistanNational Council of the Arts. He currently teaches tabla in Lahore.

IFTIKHAR ALI KHAN, Santoor player, Pakistan

Iftikhar Ali Khan is a santoor player from Rawalpindi, Punjab, who received his training from his father, Haji Hussain, and Ustad Iqbal Hussain. Iftikhar hopes to create an academy where he can train students on the santoor, as the instrument is becoming increasingly more rare. His virtuosic playing, eagerness to improvise in multiple styles, and championing of his beautiful instrument make him an exciting addition to Dosti 2016.

TANZEEM HAIDER, Flute player, Pakistan

Tanzeem Haider is a flute player from Lahore. A barber by day, Tanzeem harbors a remarkable talent for flute, displaying great technique and a fluid, even tone. He comes to us from a scouting mission conducted by Imran Fida, a 2015 Dosti Fellow from Lahore, who was asked to travel to more remote parts of Pakistan and meet artists from underrepresented communities and traditions. His sound–and story–offers something special to the Dosti Music Project 2016.

MOHSIN ABBAS, Vocalist, Pakistan

Mohsin Abbas is a vocalist and harmonium player from Gujranwala, Punjab. From a long line of vocalists in his family, Mohsin has gained his incredibly powerful and expressive vocal technique from his training with Ustad Fida Hussain, which started at a young age. When asked what he would do with this opportunity after the program has ended, Mohsin responds, “I want to carry on my ancestral profession and enhance their work…Music provides tranquility to the soul. If a man is at calm then all his doings [can] be done well.”

SLOWSPIN, Singer-songwriter/producer, Pakistan

Zeerak Ahmed (AKA Slowspin) was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1990. Ahmed is a mixed media installation/sound/performance artist from Karachi, Pakistan. In 2009 she formed a four-person collective, the ‘TBP’, and has been working and exhibiting with them since. After completing her undergrad in Studio Art and Poli Sci, from Hiram College, USA, she moved back to Karachi in 2012. She is now pursuing a Masters in Creative Practice at the Transart Institute in Berlin/NYC.

The Dosti Music Project 2016 Collaborating Artists:

SHAHZAD ISMAILY, Bass Player, Multi-instrumentalist, USA

Shahzad Ismaily was born to Pakistani immigrant parents and grew up in a wholly bicultural household. While he holds a masters degree in biochemistry from Arizona State University, he is a largely self-taught composer and musician, having mastered the electric and double bass, guitar, banjo, accordion, flute, drums, various percussion instruments and various analog synthesizers and drum machines. Ismaily has recorded or performed with an incredibly diverse assemblage of musicians, including Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Laura Veirs, Bonnie Prince Billy, Faun Fables, Secret Chiefs 3, John Zorn, Elysian Fields, Shelley Hirsch, Niobe, Will Oldham, Nels Cline, Mike Doughty (of Soul Coughing), Graham Haynes, David Krakauer, Billy Martin (of Medeski Martin and Wood), Carla Kihlstedt’s Two Foot Yard, the Tin Hat Trio, Raz Mesinai and Burnt Sugar. He has also composed regularly for dance and theater, including for Min Tanaka, the Frankfurt Ballet and the East River Commedia. Currently based in New York, Ismaily has studied music extensively in Pakistan, India, Turkey, Mexico, Santiago, Japan, Indonesia, Morocco and Iceland.

SONNY SINGH, Trumpet Player, USA

Sonny Singh is a musician, social justice educator, and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He is a trumpet player, dhol player, and vocalist and has been a member of the acclaimed bhangra brass band Red Baraat since its inception in 2008. The New York Times has described Red Baraat as a “Brooklyn brass band that looks to South Asia, pumping out Bollywood tunes and Sufi songs with a crackling beat (from the two headed dhol drum) and the muscle of horns blasting in unison, putting some New York bluster atop faraway roots.” From 2003-2008, Sonny played in the political rock band Outernational, which he co-founded, deemed a “world music Rage Against the Machine” by Tom Morello himself. Sonny has also worked with a number of labor and community-based organizations in New York City as an organizer and educator and regularly facilitates workshops and classes on social justice issues, community organizing, anti-oppression, and more.  His writings on racial justice, Sikhism and social change, and Islamophobia have appeared in the Huffington Post, Colorlines, Asian American Literary Review, Jadaliyya, and Open City Magazine.

<pBang on a Can and Found Sound Nation: The Dosti Music Project is organized and sponsored by the Embassy of the United States in Pakistan and produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation. Found Sound Nation, led by Chris Marianetti, Jeremy Thal, and Elena Moon Park, is the social engagement wing of Bang on a Can. A collective of musicians and artists who leverage the unique power of creative sound-making to help build strong, just, healthy communities all over the world, Found Sound Nation began with one classroom-based studio in a school in the Bronx, and has expanded to include a wide range of national and international projects, including producing the OneBeat international exchange with the Department of State, now in its fourth year.Since its inception in 1987, Bang on a Can has been dedicated to supporting innovative music wherever it can be found, the artists that make it, the audiences that love it. As a presenter, Bang on a Can has introduced many international artists to the U.S. and to U.S. audiences, many for the first time. Some of these remarkable collaborations and presentations include projects with the Burmese Pat Waing (drum circle) master Kyaw Kyaw Naing, the Uzbek ensemble Mashriq, the renowned Bulgarian clarinetist Ivo Papasov, and many more. Since 2001, Bang on a Can has been particularly engaged in music exchange programs with musicians from Central Asia, having hosted over two dozen musicians from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan at its Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts and having produced three tours to those territories. Bang on a Can has also collaborated closely with U.S. Embassies on the ground in Tashkent, Moscow, Mexico City, Istanbul, Surabaya, Shanghai, Budapest, and more.

For Details: | Watch a video about Dosti: | |


It’s going to be one eventful tour so don’t miss out and stay tuned to Sunday for more updates!

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