Zeshan B just posted the video for his mournful, wounded version of “Cryin’ In The Streets,” the criminally obscure soul protest anthem originally recorded by George Perkins in 1970. Featuring Zeshan Bagewadi, a first generation Indian-American, Muslim, and Chicago native on vocals and harmonium, the video is a rousing tribute to the power of collective action, and includes footage of political marches ranging from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the Women’s March earlier this month.
Though the song was written well before his birth, “Cryin’ in the Streets” and other soul music of the deep south still resonates with Zeshan’s own American Experience. Even when he lived in India, Zeshan’s father claimed an impressive record collection that included Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and others, and those artists provided the soundtrack to Zeshan’s childhood. In our uncertain age, their message connects more deeply than ever.
Zeshan B’s forthcoming album was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN, and blends vintage soul with elements of Indo-Pakistani film and folk tunes. Set for release this Spring on Chicago label Minty Fresh, the album features songs in three languages: English, Urdu, and Punjabi. It was produced by Lester Snell (Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Mavis Staples), with backing by multiple generations of Memphis session legends including guitarist Michael Toles (“Shaft”), bassist David Smith (Buddy Guy), drummer Steve Potts (Booker T. and the MGs) and backing vocalist Kameron Whalum (Bruno Mars).
Zeshan Bagewadi has performed for President Obama and alongside the likes of Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, and Aasif Mandvi. He will perform at The Promontory in Chicago on February 28th, with more tour dates to be announced soon.