While the radical waves of the Sixties and Seventies in the United States have been substantially documented, it was left to Kabir Suman, musician, activist, broadcaster, to bring together a series of interviews he had taken in the 1980s, to offer a sense of the politics of protest in the Reagan years. The interviewees include some of the foremost thinkers and cultural figures of the period, taking a firm position against the aggressive, imperialist designs of the United States, which by now have become only more glaringly evident. Speaking out of their oppositionist encounters of the State, they underscore the role of culture in the defence of democracy and human rights, and spell out resistance strategies and alternatives that remain equally valid even today all over the world.
KABTR SUMAN (b. 16 March 1949), trained in Hindusthani classical music, came to concentrate on the songs of Tagore and modern Bengali songs as a singer. He graduated from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, majoring in English Literature, and acquired a diploma in French. Growing through the radical turmoil of the Seventies in West Bengal, Suman developed a distinctive voice of his own as lyricist-composer, and with his 1992 album Tomake Chai ('I Want You'), he became a trailblazer for a new musical mode in Bengali, in which the everyday realities and political rage came to be inextricably intertwined. Ever since then he has been recognized as the first 'one man band' in the history of Bengali music-a rare combination of songwriter, musician, and multi-instrumentalist apart from being a singing sensation.
His parallel career as a journalist began in the mid-Seventies, as a radio journalist, first for the Bengali service of the Voice of Germany (1975- 79), and then with the Voice of America (1980-86). Pete Seeger, friend and associate, introduced him to the freedom fighter-poet-priest and Nicaraguan Minister of Culture Father Ernesto Cardenal, who invited Suman to a tour of Nicaragua in 1985, which led to his book in Bengali-Nicaragua Liberated.
Kabir Suman is now Member of Parliament, and participates in campaigns on radical and controversial issues as composer-singer and speaker.
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