Exclusive: "The Blues is Very Sexual and Naughty" - Dana Gillespie on her Brand of Music

Ranjit Rodricks , 06 Dec 2013
Dana Gillespie
Dana Gillespie

She’s been coming back to India – every year – for the past thirty-five years and has performed in front of a crowd of over a million people at Sathya Sai Baba‘s ashram in South India.

She’s worked with Elton John and David Bowie, dated Bob Dylan and counts Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood among her close friends.

Meet Dana Gillespie, one of the most prolific blues singers in the world who is incidentally also the original Mary Magdalene from Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Jesus Christ Superstar.

Currently in Mumbai to perform at Simply the Blues on December 8th at St. Andrew’s auditorium, Dana chats exclusively with Team MissMalini about her music and her love for India.

Dana Gillespie
Dana Gillespie

Here are highlights from our chat:

Team MissMalini: For a Bollywood obsessed country like India, tell us what the Blues are all about?

Dana Gillespie: The Blues are actually a lot of fun. It’s fun music, it’s uplifting music, it’s actually quite spiritual in its weird way. It’s very sexual. It’s very naughty. It’s earthy. It has a great beat. You can dance to it. Blues is “real” music which is born out of pain. If you’ve had a hard day at work, you come home and sing the Blues or play the Blues and you instantly feel better.

Team MM: Which modern day Indian artists would you like to collaborate on an album with?

DG: You know, I don’t know of any modern day Indian artists. I have performed with Ehsan Noorani and Loy Mendonca before they had Shankar Mahadevan (as a trio). I would have loved to work with Mohammad Rafi but unfortunately, he’s gone.

Dana Gillespie
Dana Gillespie

Team MM: So which international musicians have you worked with?

DG: Well, Bob Dylan (he was her lover in the ’60s), David Bowie, Jimmy Paige, Led Zeppelin… there are so many that I can’t remember. A lot of them come and play at my own festival on the island of Mustique in the West Indies. I’ve been hosting it for nineteen years. But in the old days, I worked with the likes of Elton John and The Hollies.

Team MM: What keeps bringing you back to India, ever so often?

DG: Can I say it’s the food? No, that’s too flippant! I actually have a lot of friends here and I keep coming back to Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram in South India. I’ve been doing it for thirty-five years. When he was physically alive, he was amazing to me and lots of incredible things happened to my life that are beyond explanation. That’s why I come back every year on his birthday.

Catch Dana live on December 8th as she performs the Blues at St. Andrew’s auditorium in Bandra West, Mumbai.

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