American singer Marlena Shaw’s most popular song Woman Of The Ghetto is a first-person narrative of a “strong, black, proud” woman claiming her independence. It has proved hugely influential in hip-hop music and been sampled numerous times, not least for Shaw’s mesmerising vocal performance.
A performance in a different context, by Indian reggae band The Ska Vengers at Delhi’s Tihar Jail, does not dim its power in the slightest.
Police make their rounds as the audience waits silently in anticipation. “This is dedicated to our ghetto people, because it comes from the ghetto,” says the band’s frontman Taru Dalmia. “Kingston, Brooklyn, Chhatisgarh, Bastar, Nizamuddin, everywhere.”
And as the inmates of the jail begin feeling the rhythm of the music, they showcase some dance moves of their own.