The 2018 ZEE London Mela, a colourful kaleidoscope of music, dance and culture will take place for the very first time in Southall Park, the very heart of Europe’s oldest Asian community. This year marks the festival’s 16th gathering and is set to be an absolute classic.
Last year’s festival was a tough act to follow, but this year will see some serious big-hitting artists take to the Southall stage on 18 & 19 August, alongside dance stars and local talent, an incredible Taste of Asia food market, the Magic Mela family area, an art installation and a funfair. The London Mela is a free celebration of Asian culture which will fill the park with colourful creativity.
Since the 1950s, South Asians have been settling in Southall, which is sometimes known as “Little India”. Its proximity to Heathrow has meant that the South Asian population has thrived in the area, creating a hotbed of culture, commerce and gastronomy. The ZEE London Mela will be an exciting opportunity for locals and the wider London community to experience Asian music, dancing and cuisine in the centre of British Asian life.
The festival is well known for its pioneering commissions and unique collaborations, and as Southall is credited as the home of British Bhangra music, the ZEE London Mela is delighted to present a specially commissioned Sounds of Southall set on the main stage as the headline act on Saturday. Legendary producer, composer and musician Kuljit Bhamra MBE pioneered the British Bhangra sound along with his mother Mohinder Kaur Bhamra and he has assembled a breath-taking line-up featuring 3 generations of legendry Bhangra artists: Heera, Premi, Alaap, H Dhami and Mona Singh.
Staying true to that tradition the Mela has also put together a collaboration between British Asian star Arjun – currently the most viewed UK artist on YouTube with over 250 million views – and the UK’s oldest Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, known for their adventurous, genre-crossing partnerships with contemporary artists.
Pakistani born Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi is one of the most popular folk singers in the world. He has recorded over 50,000 songs in seven languages, was awarded Pakistan’s Pride of Performance award in 1991 and received a lifetime achievement award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Atta will perform on Saturday afternoon with his son Sanwal Esakhelvi who is a growing star in his own right and has an extraordinary voice which contrasts beautifully with his father’s.
Sunday is no less exciting; celebrating 25 years since the release of his most famous hit Boom-Shack-A-Lak, Apache Indian (Steven Kapur) will electrify the main stage, performing well known raggamuffin hits and his debut brand new single. Alongside the hits he has written songs about serious issues and was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for best contemporary song for “Arranged Marriage”.
Panjabi Hit Squad are a collective of British Asian DJs, music producers and radio broadcasters known for their albums Desi Beats Vol 1 and Def Jam. They have won the UK Asian Music Awards three times and will also be performing at Norway’s Oslo Mela in the same weekend!
Rika is a young, up and coming singer from North West London. Her half Indian, half Serbian roots have given her a unique sound which is already making waves on the UK pop scene and has lead to her becoming the first female Asian artist to be signed to a major label.
With a show-stopping set on the Sunday will be non-other than urban Asian music pioneer Jay Sean who has had a string of hits in the UK R&B chart and has charted in the US Billboard charts. Hailing from Southall but now based in Los Angeles in the US, Jay headlines a true homecoming show.
The day will come to a spectacular close with a sensational show finale from BHANG featuring Dhol Academy and Walk the Plank, with samba and dhol dummers combining their talents to create an explosive and exciting conclusion to the day.
An interactive installation onsite focuses on the largest mass migration in the history of the world and the continuing story of London’s diversity and the movement of people across borders; Never Set Eyes On The Land, is an immersive experience which explores, a community of Partition survivors who made this part of London their home, through poetry, letters, visual art, film, spoken word responses, smells, sounds and music.
Speaking about the line-up, Artistic Director Ajay Chhabra said, “I am delighted to be able to bring such a wonderfully diverse programme to London audiences this year. Presenting the programme over two days has given us the opportunity to present artists from around the world as well as just around the corner in Southall, giving the line-up a truly global to local feel. I’d like to extend an invitation to Londoners of all backgrounds to attend what will be a fantastic free event that the whole family can enjoy”.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “The ZEE London Mela is a highlight of the capital’s cultural calendar and is a great celebration of Asian culture and creativity. Over the last 16 years, the Mela has gone from strength to strength, with street theatre, dancing and delicious Asian cuisine. It’s events like this, taking place in all corners of the city, that showcase London at its diverse, lively and open best.”