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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Fern Knight - Blithewold – Adrift in a general flowery provenance, Fern Knight flies its meticulously winsome banner. Heralding the lost folksy souls from that magical acquiescence of nature that flowed effervescently in the...  (2006) » Read more

Tres Gone - Outertainment, Vol. 1 – The Tres Gone trio has been plugging away in the Portland, Oregon area for about five years, playing various local clubs, doing their own unique take on electric improvisation. In the course of these...  (2007) » Read more

Ranarim - Morgonstjärna (Morning Star) – This tasty and rousing slice of modern Swedish trad-folk grows on the listener like a nice warm coat on a cold winter morning. This is music full of color, warmth, melody, and rich in tradition, while...  (2008) » Read more

The Surgery - Holy Umbrella – The Surgery is a trio of guitars, bass and drums, with guitarist Toshi Horisawa providing the predominantly English lead vocals, as well as some synths and programming. The album opens with a...  (1997) » Read more

Various Artists - Progfest '95 – Well, it's finally here. This 2CD package was definitely worth the wait, even that two of the featured bands (Solaris and Spock's Beard) have already released their entire Progfest...  (1997) » Read more