A product of the ever-evolving tastes and worldviews of a globalized generation, Sunny Jain
is always at the tip of the cultural spear. Called the “Hendrix of dhol” by Manchester Salon (UK), he founded the band RED BARAAT, one of the most successful Indian-American bands in North America, with highlight performances at the White House, TED Talks, London Paralympics Closing Ceremony, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Austin City Limits and Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD festivals, over the past decade. Dubbed “the best party band in years” by NPR
, Red Baraat has released five albums including 2012’s Shruggy Ji
(debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music Charts) and 2017’s Bhangra Pirates (debuted at #4 on the World Music Charts Europe).
Jain was commissioned by NPR Music in summer 2014 to create a composition for the capstone event on “Make Music New York” day. Over 350 musicians, including drumlines of the New York Jets and Knicks, prominent brass bands from NYC and talented high school band students, arrived on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library to premiere “100+ BPM.” He has been the recipient of composition and performance grants from the Aaron Copland Music Fund, Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, globalFEST Touring Fund, MASS MoCA, and more. Jain received the Arts International Award in 2003 and 2005, and in 2010 his song “Chaal Baby” was featured for six months in the hit FX TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Signal to Noise declared “Jain’s unique compositions stake out singular turf in this 21st Century world of cross-pollinating musical traditions.”
Other accolades include speaking engagements at the White House AAPI conference, Harvard University, New York University, Chamber Music America and New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, profiles in the Wall Street Journal, NPR’s Weekend Edition, BBC, and The Times of India (amongst many other recognized global media outlets), and authoring two instructional drum books for Alfred Publishing (“The Total Jazz Drummer” and “Drum Atlas: India”).
Jain first made a name for himself as a rising star in the jazz world – awarded the designation of ‘Jazz Ambassador’ by the U.S. Department of State and the Kennedy Center, and crowned ‘Rising Star Percussionist’ on multiple occasions by Downbeat Magazine
Critics Poll – as he helmed his own bands and also worked with Norah Jones, Kenny Wollesen, and Kyle Eastwood. For several years, he traveled the world as a kit drummer and dhol player with the Sufi rock band, Junoon – the biggest rock band to emerge from South Asia. In 2011, Junoon released the acclaimed single “Open Your Eyes,” featuring Peter Gabriel, to bring awareness and relief to Pakistani flood victims. In 2010, Junoon delivered a Concert for Pakistan at the United Nations in NYC, for the displaced refugees in the Swat Valley. The band closed out 2007 with a milestone performance at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, playing for Nobel Laureates Al Gore and Rajendra Paucharia. Jain also played dhol/percussion in the first ever Indian Broadway show, Bombay Dreams
(2004) and made his Hollywood debut playing dhol in the film Accidental Husband starring Uma Thurman and Colin Firth.
Jain has collaborated, performed, or recorded with a wide range of artists including Peter Gabriel, Norah Jones, Junoon, Himanshu Suri (Swet Shop Boys/Das Racist), Vijay Iyer, Karsh Kale, Kailash Kher, Ali Sethi, Donny McCaslin, Pedrito Martinez, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Andres Levin and many others. For the past 7 years, he has also curated an annual multi-city tour, Red Baraat Festival of Colors, based on the Hindu holiday of Holi which highlights the South Asian diaspora in America through a diverse range of styles and mediums.