White Sun II, which was adjudged the Best New Age Album at the 59th Grammy Awards, has an India connection. It features Indian tabla player Abhuman Kaushal alongside kora player Mamadou Diabate, and the Punch Brothers’ violinist Gabe Witcher. The 2016 hit was put together by California-based group White Sun that comprises Gurujas, Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa and Adam Berry. The album left behind Enya and Vangelis to win the award.
Kaushal, who hails from Hyderabad, is a professor at the department of ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles. He was introduced to music by his father, who was a disciple of Ustad Amir Hussain Khan. He was trained by Ustad Sheikh Dawood and Pandit B Nandkumar. He belongs to the Farukkabad, Lucknow, and Ajrara schools of tabla, according to his biography on the university website.
He has performed with leading musicians such as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Rais Khan, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pandit Viswa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Shujaat Khan, and Lakshmi Shankar, among several others. He has also recorded three albums with Pandit Ravi Shankar.
In the past, he has also collaborated with French flautist Jean-Pierre Ramphal, the Mexican Symphony Orchestra, gamelan maestro I Nyoman Wenten, Mali-jazzer Cheick Tidiane Seck, and bandleader/percussionist Tito Puente. He has toured across the world, including performances at England, Germany, Italy, Norway, Belgium, France, Israel, Japan, Mexico, United States, and India.