Exposé Online banner

There are no direct flights between Mumbai, India and Seattle, Washington. But that doesn't stop the international collaboration called Manooghi Hi from bridging the gap between the two cultures. The band got its start a few years ago when Mehnaz Hoosein, who had a million-selling career as a pop singer in India, connected with Ava Chakravarti in Seattle.

by Jon Davis, Published 2011-06-01

photography by Jon Davis

Their fathers were old friends, and Mehnaz was looking for something new in her musical life, so they set up a one-off show in Seattle to see what might happen. Together with some of Ava's long-time Seattle scene collaborators, including her husband, guitarist Todd Fogelsonger, and keyboardist Mark Nichols, and a lot of blind hope, they staged an evening of music fusing Mehnaz's vocal firepower with rock energy. Things went so spectacularly well that a band was born, bringing in some other denizens of the Seattle scene going back to the 1980s, with a wide variety of experience and stylistic diversity, including jazz fusion, funk, musical theater, and world music.

Manooghi Hi live

Their self-titled debut CD featured singing in several languages; at times it rocks like crazy, and at other times it's tender and beautiful, with the kind of emotional drama found in the best music from stage musicals. Playing live has been important to their development; since their inception, they've played most of the venues in Seattle, as well as branching out to Portland, Oregon and a number of festivals around the Northwest; they've also made appearances at SXSW in Austin, Texas and at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. All of this has been squeezed between Mehnaz's trips back to India.

Manooghi Hi live

2010 began with the departure of Mark Nichols, who was replaced by Kent Halvorsen of Sky Cries Mary. "Well, of course losing a key member and writer is scary," says Ava, "but we tried to approach it as a positive change. Kent was introduced to us by our drummer Hollis and had seen the band a few times. His bright attitude made the transition as smooth as it could ever be since he got where we were coming from and had the right vibe from day one."

During more than two years since the CD came out, they've been working new material into their sets, and a new release is in the works. Ava says, "We are in the midst of mixing down several songs just now that were primarily written by Todd and Mehnaz in the Manooghi Lounge last fall." They hope to have something available publicly this spring. The band's fans will be happy to know that one of their live favorites is included: a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" with Ava and Mehnaz switching their usual roles as lead and backing singer.

Manooghi Hi live

They're also hoping to play more outside of their home area, with their eyes on Canada and Europe; since the band became a going concern, they've also had the dream of playing in India, where Mehnaz's celebrity status has garnered them some publicity in the mainstream press as well as industry connections, though rock music is far from a mainstream endeavor there. "Writing, recording and performing our songs is like starting life over again and again," says Mehnaz. "Coming from very diverse musical backgrounds, we are exposed to the possibility of exploring a marriage of unbelievable sounds."


Filed under: Profiles, Issue 39

Related artist(s): Manooghi Hi

More info
http://manooghihi.com

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Agitation Free - Fragments – Whatever else they may have done in their recording career, Germany’s Agitation Free loved a good long jam. For their farewell bow, they played a concert in November of 1974 with a professional...  (2005) » Read more

Musicante (Guillermo Diego Ensamble) - Sonoridades Mexicanas – While not exactly a reissue, this compilation by Guillermo Diego y Musicante includes all of the material from their 1987 album A los Cuatro Vientos, plus two tracks from 1982's Buscando un Tesoro,...  (1994) » Read more

Various Artists - Summoning of the Muse - A Tribute to Dead Can Dance – Dead Can Dance have had a profound impact upon musicians around the world, with a fame that has grown steadily since Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard issued their first album in 1984. Newly reactivated...  (2006) » Read more

Thread - Thread – This disc is essentially a two person project between Doane Perry (Jethro Tull's long time drummer) and Vince DiCola (LA virtuoso keyboardist and arranger). It evolved into a three piece with...  (1997) » Read more

Alpes - Patrice Moullet - En Attendant Noe – With a signature sound almost indescribable, Patrice Moullet is back with another Alpes release. Imagine a mad scientist living alone in the mountains, inventing, designing, and constructing his own...  (1998) » Read more