Mumbai | Being an Indian, Grammy winner Ricky Kej says leading the UK's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) for a rendition of "Jana Gana Mana" was special as the national anthem has been the most "important piece of music" in his life.
Kej on Monday shared the video of the national anthem, recorded with a 100-piece British orchestra from the RPO at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London, that earned him praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Ahead of the collaboration, Kej said the first thought that came in his mind was how the times have changed as a man from a country that the British Empire ruled for over 200 years is now leading their "most in-demand" orchestra and performing "Jana Gana Mana".
At the back of my mind, it was going on that the British ruled us for over 200 years, so it was nice for an Indian conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, performing our Indian national anthem.
“They were very gracious, amazing, put in all their hard work into it, and created a beautiful version of our national anthem. I hope to gift this to every single Indian everywhere in the world,” the three-time Grammy winner told PTI.
Kej, 42, said “Jana Gana Mana” was the first musical piece he had learned as a child.
“It is very special and close to my heart. It’s been the most important piece of music in my life – the first piece of music I learned even before nursery rhymes or lullabies.
“It’s absolutely in my blood. I’ve collaborated with symphony orchestras all over the world in my career. In fact, symphony orchestras have always been a very important part of my music,” he said.
The “Jana Gana Mana” rendition was recorded just in time for India’s 77th Independence Day and after Kej shared its video on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday, he was lauded by the prime minister.
“Wonderful. It will certainly make every Indian proud,” PM Modi tweeted.
Kej, who was born in North Carolina in the US and moved to Bengaluru at the age of eight, said the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is his favourite.
“I thought, why not get my favourite symphony orchestra to actually record a version of our national anthem with me conducting them. So, I approached them, and we got a 100-piece orchestra, the biggest ever to record the Indian national anthem,” the musician said