Kochi: Oscar-nominated singer M.I.A teamed up with ethnic Kerala drummers to ring in India's first biennale with a concert, which is also the first-ever stage performance in the country by the Sri Lanka-born artiste.
37-year-old Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam aka M.I.A, who won an Academy nomination in song writing for "Slumdog Millionaire", teamed up with the drummers led by "chenda" drummer Panamanna Sasi and his 45-member team at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which was inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy late Wednesday evening.
"Hello Kochi, how are you doing? Thank you for making this dream come true," she told a motley audience comprising locals and foreign visitors at the Parade Ground here.
Small LED helicopter toys distributed by M.I.A's street team and people were encouraged to throw it up in the air and watch it descend slowly with the LED glowing and reflecting off fluorescent rotors.
Bollywood actor John Abraham made a guest appearance and demonstrated the "helicopter shooting".
After an ethnic ensemble featuring performers of a range of ethnic instruments comprising the chenda, ilathalam (cymbals), kompu (horn) and kuzhal (pipe) the vocalist took to the stage with her set of two dozen accompanists who sang, played the bass drum and keyboards besides the saxophone.
In her distinctive whooping and chanting voice, the singer, who has previously shared stage space with music icons Madonna and Rihanna and has worked with A R Rahman for 'O Saya' in "Slumdog Millionaire" unleashed a performance.
M.I.A, who combines elements of electronica, dance, alternative, hip-hop and world music referred to famous music composer Ilyaraja who has also used traditional chenda music in his works.