Photos courtesy of the artists and their representatives.

Singing Together is a qawwali and gospel music collaboration between Texas-based Riyaaz Qawwali and The Harlem Gospel Travelers from NYC. The program will consist of performances from both ensembles individually, followed by a collaborative set of repertoire performed by both groups. The collaborative pieces carefully interweave qawwali and gospel elements into a singular soundscape, where the listener doesn’t know where one genre ends and the other begins. In the creation of these pieces, the lyrics were also carefully arranged to honor both traditions. Don’t miss this unique show celebrating the unifying joy of spiritual music. 

“The BIPOC community is stronger together, says Sonny Mehta of Riyaaz Qawwali. “Through this artistic initiative, my hope is to foster connections between artists and communities from these genres, enabling them to discover commonalities and support each other in times of need.”

“Music is a power that for centuries has healed, inspired, and united the world,” says Harlem Gospel Travelers’ Ifedayo Thomas Gatling. “No matter the language or origin, music is about heart. We hope that this show inspires you. And exemplifies that with work unity, no matter the differences, is possible!

Riyaaz Qawwali returns to NYC after their sold out performance at Cathedral of St. John The Divine which was presented by World Music Institute in January of 2019. The group performs qawwalis (or sufi music), bhajans, shabads and ghazals. They represent the diversity and plurality of South Asia. The ensemble’s musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. 

Born out of an non-profit music education program led by Eli “Paperboy” Reed, The Harlem Gospel Travelers—singers Thomas Gatling, George Marage, and Dennis Bailey—released their debut LP, He’s On Time, to rave reviews in 2019, with Pop Matters hailing the album’s “musical transcendence”. Their 2022 release, Look Up!, also produced by Reed, marked the group’s first first collection of totally original material, which NPR Music praised as having a “70s vibe but subject material is of this moment”.

The COLLABORATIONS series presents cross-cultural musical explorations and collaborations. This series often explores the ways in which the music of artists from one culture have influenced the music of another culture, or the music of seemingly widely varying cultures can be strikingly similar or complementary.

About World Music Institute:

Founded in 1985 as a not-for-profit, World Music Institute (WMI) has served as one of the leading presenters of world music and dance within the United States. WMI is committed to presenting the best in traditional and contemporary music and dance from around the world with the goal of inspiring wonder for the world’s rich cultural traditions, promoting awareness and appreciation and encouraging cross-cultural dialog and exchange. WMI presents at venues throughout the city and depends on both public and private funding to accomplish its mission. 

The program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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