Born on 23 January 1951, and raised in Usmanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India, sitar player and composer Baluji Shrivastav was an accomplished musician by the age of six. Having lost his sight as an eight-month-old baby, sound became the primary medium of expression for him. As a one year old child, Baluji would imitate the singing voices of the classical film singers, such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi that he heard played on a gramophone.
His father made a point of teaching him religious devotional songs and told him stories from the Baghvad Gita (the Hindu Holy Scriptures) as was the tradition of the time for blind children in rural India. By age two, Baluji began to play his mother’s harmonium as an accompaniment to his singing.
Since his first classical performance in 1982, Baluji has been commissioned by theatre companies all over the UK, especially South Asian British theatre companies such as Tara Arts (for ‘Miti ki Gadi /The Little Clay Cart’, 1986), Tamasha Theatre Company for ‘Untouchable’, 1989 and ‘Mán Melá Theatre Company for ‘Across the Black Waters’, 1998 to compose scores for national touring plays and accompanying their performances.
As a blind person, Baluji felt he was marginalised, however this marginalisation allowed him a degree of freedom which would not otherwise have been available to him. Baluji says that this in turn gave him the liberty to break social, racial boundaries and musical boundaries. By pushing these boundaries, Baluji Shrivastav continues to create contemporary music rooted in Hindi classical music but fused with diverse multi-cultural musical traditions creating new, cross-genre styles.