The name is Ricky Kej! The Indian musician, whom you may not have known well, is now the winner of not one but three Grammy Awards.
The Bengaluru-based Indian music composer Ricky Kej won his 3rd Grammy for the Best Immersive Audio Album for ‘Divine Tides.’ Ricky Kej shared the award with the legendary drummer Stewart Copeland, Herbert Waltl, and Eric Schilling. Stewart Copeland has been associated with the iconic British rock band, The Police.
‘Divine Tides’ is a nine-song album with the message that “Each life plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance that serves all equally.”
Divine Tides emerged triumphant over the following nominees:
AGUILERA – Jaycen Joshua, immersive mix engineer; Jaycen Joshua, immersive mastering engineer (Christina Aguilera)
Memories…Do Not Open – Mike Piacentini, immersive mix engineer; Mike Piacentini, immersive mastering engineer; Adam Alpert, Alex Pall, Jordan Stilwell & Andrew Taggart, immersive producers (The Chainsmokers)
Picturing The Invisible – Focus 1 – Jim Anderson, immersive mix engineer; Morten Lindberg & Ulrike Schwarz, immersive mastering engineers; Jane Ira Bloom & Ulrike Schwarz, immersive producers (Jane Ira Bloom)
Tuvayhun – Beatitudes For A Wounded World – Morten Lindberg, immersive mix engineer; Morten Lindberg, immersive mastering engineer; Morten Lindberg, immersive producer (Nidarosdomens Jentekor & Trondheimsolistene)
The win was indeed remarkable.
Kej opted for a cream and white ethnic outfit as he walked the red carpet of the 2023 Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles.
In a heartfelt caption on social media, Kej dedicated the “award to India.”
Ricky received his first Grammy in 2015 for his Winds of Samsara album. Followed by another in 2022, where Kej won a Grammy for his album “Divine Tides” in collaboration with Rock & Roll legend Stewart Copeland in the Best New Age Album Category. Kej has won more than 100 awards across 20 countries.
Even though Kej was born in North Carolina, the family moved to Bengaluru when he was 8. He chose to study dentistry at the Oxford Dental College in Bengaluru despite his apparent passion for music because of parental pressure and stereotyped expectations from society.
“I was a pretty good student. I wanted to finish the course in five years. I did not want to repeat a year and be stuck in college. So, I made sure I studied and passed the examinations.” Kej told The New Indian Express.
Before hitting success, Kej’s family, like most Indians, questioned the viability of a musical career.
“My father and grandfather were doctors; my mother is a homemaker. My brother is an orthodontist,” he told The Rolling Stones.
So, he struck a deal with his parents. “I convinced them that if I finished my degree, I could do whatever I wanted with my life,” he added.
Goodwill Ambassador by UNHCR
This multi-Grammy Award-winning music composer, humanitarian, and environmentalist has also been chosen as the newest national Goodwill Ambassador by the UNHCR.
Commenting on his new role, Kej said, “I am so honored to be appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. I have seen inexplicable grit and passion among the refugees I have interacted with. I am excited to use my experience and ability as an artist to help raise awareness, advocate, and inspire the world to stand with refugees.”
This will help him to create awareness, understanding, and compassion for refugees worldwide.
He has cited Pakistani qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and British vocalist Peter Gabriel as musical influences who inspire him to challenge and push his boundaries constantly. Kej is a self-taught musician who studied classical music at 24. Kej believes that the music he makes emphasizes harmony rather than playing in unison. His compositions, he believes, aim to resolve conflicts in the same way that classical Indian music does.
“I am doing my bit for peace,” Kej said to NRI Pulse. The Punjabi-Marathi musician radiates confidence with a desire for harmony, which can be seen in his lifestyle and musical career.