Brooklyn-based Sonny Singh has launched a solo project of boundary-defying Punjabi anthems to uplift & ignite. For the last decade, Sonny has brought his fiery trumpet & vocals to audiences around the world as an original member of the bhangra brass band Red Baraat. His debut solo album, Chardi Kala, was released on May 13, 2022.
Sonny’s first musical outlet as a child of immigrant parents in North Carolina was singing Sikh devotional music in gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship). His energy shifted to other types of music as he became a more serious musician: ska, reggae, funk, punk rock, bhangra, and more. In 2003, Sonny co-founded the political rock band Outernational and recorded an album produced by Tom Morello. As a singer and trumpet player, he has been central to the sound and raw energy of Red Baraat since the band’s inception in 2008, touring globally and recording 5 studio albums. Sonny has also performed with notable artists including Michael Franti & Spearhead, Ozomatli, Toshi Reagon, Arooj Aftab, Ankur Tewari, The Ska Vengers, and DJ Rekha.
Sonny’s debut solo album, produced by Wil-Dog Abers of Ozomatli, is entitled Chardi Kala, the Sikh concept of revolutionary eternal optimism. Gothamist calls it “utterly irresistible.” Live Mint says, “Singh has done that rarest of rare things as a musician—he has actually charted new ground, pushing the idea of South Asian fusion music down a new, previously unexplored side path.” Sonny’s new music has also been featured on GRAMMY.com, NPR Music, Rolling Stone India, HuffPost, Songlines Magazine, Brooklyn Vegan, and WNYC’s New Sounds.
Sonny’s music is a reminder that hope, love, and devotion are crucial to our struggles and our collective survival. Chardi Kala is a return to Sonny’s Punjabi & Sikh roots, but with the lens, he’s developed over the course of his life as a touring musician, educator, and activist. Musically, the project embodies the many spiritual, political, and aesthetic elements that have shaped Sonny: a bolero-mariachi Sikh shabad on one track, a qawwali song with a reggae bass line on another, a bombastic Ghadar Party tribute in Punjabi and Spanish on yet another. His live band, which includes harmonium, electric guitar, tabla, and dhol, provides listeners with an experience of both introspective reflection and fervent urgency.