Laraaji & Suphala
Hailed as one of the forefathers of both ambient electronic and new age music, Laraaji is best known for his 1980 collaboration with Brian Eno, “Ambient 3: Day of Radiance.” Born in 1943 as Edward Larry Gordon, Laraaji attended Howard University in Washington D.C. on a scholarship to study composition and piano. He later spent time in New York pursuing a career as a stand-up comedian and actor. In the seventies, Laraaji began his lifelong study of Eastern Mysticism, was initiated as a swami, and merged music with spiritual practice. Following an intuition, he bought a zither from a local pawn shop, converted it to an electronic instrument, and, while busking in Washington Square Park, Laraaji was discovered by Brian Eno who offered to produce him on the spot.
Whether she’s performing within the Indian classical music tradition or with the latest electronics, Suphala—tabla player, percussionist, composer, and producer—breaks new ground. Her deep knowledge of a wide spectrum of music, her mentoring by maestros Ustad Allarakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain, and the classical piano studies she began at age four all inform her unique compositions, highly improvisational performances, and contemporary approach—a dazzling combination that has led to her being celebrated by the New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stone, CNN, and NPR, and making history as the first musician to play in public in Kabul, Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
The duo comes together to perform a program of ambient and world music at Big Ears Festival 2024.