common ground open mic series

common ground is organized by progressive Vietnamese American community members, artists, and activists committed to cultivating a positive and safe healing space for artistic growth and community empowerment. The common ground collective builds collaborations across communities and supports the work of social justice spaces.

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Soulful singer and March 1st feature Pratiti Renee Mehta reflects on the importance that music has played in the communities she is a part of:

When I was seven years old, I convinced a music teacher from school to come home in order to explain to my unyielding mother how much I loved and needed music in my life. Little did he know…! Actually, little did my mother know I even had an interest in singing.

Two decades later, this is by far still my favorite memory. Why? Well, if it hadn’t been for this very moment, I would have never met my soul mate.

Having spent half my life in India and half in the US, I often find myself wondering where my identity truly lies. English replaces Hindi as my day-to-day language, dresses replace saris on (most) special occasions and humongous family Sunday get-togethers are limited to occasional Skype sessions. As the rest of my Indian life slowly says its goodbyes, the music in my soul refuses to leave.

Indian classical music, in particular, has done wonders for my identity pangs. It has provided a platform for generations of Indians, like and unlike myself, to carry on the voice of our people no matter how “Indianized” or “Americanized” we may be or feel.  I am an individual, carrying the voice of millions. If this isn’t community, then I don’t know what is.

This is a voice of my ancestors, of my origin and it reminds me that while the world I live in is nothing like theirs, our “common ground” is the music they have buried so deeply in my soul.

Did you miss her and Andre perform last February? Catch the video of the flooring performance here, or better yet— see her on stage for our March 1st “MERGING MICS” collaboration show! It’s only a week away. How can you stand it?!

Photo credit: Kristina Aquino

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