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SAFF 2014 Films - Cluster 7 - Focus on Sikhlens Concert


Date: Sunday November 24, 2013
Start Time: 06:00 pm


Concluding the 2013 SAFF will be the: Sikhlens Showcase- a segment featuring Sikh Musicians, Performers and Artists coming together to share a stage in a never seen before Performance Concert.


Sikhlens will provide artists a platform to take the stage and represent their talents. In addition, performances will pay tribute to the recent Wisconsin tragedy. A collaboration of an amazing blend of performers and creative minds - a perfect way to wrap up the Sikhlens: 2013 Sikh Arts & Film Festival!


Cluster 7 Schedule

Performer: Harjinder Singh

Harjinder Singh

Performer Bio:
Harjinder Singh draws from Reggae, Soul, R&B/Hip Hop, and Jazz. He has shared the stage with acts such as Young Blood Brass Band, Nneka, Native Sun, Steve Molitz and Willie Waldman Project (members from Snoop Dogg, Banyan, Jane’s Addiction, Santana, and more). Harjinder is currently the music department head at Senn-Arts (High School Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Program- Chicago Public Schools.

Performer: Simran Sammi

Simran Sammi

Performer Bio:
Simran Sammi is a professional singer, performer, and teacher. She has a Bachelors degree in Indian Classical Music and began singing at a very young age under the guidance of her first guru, her grandmother. Coming from a musical family, Simran received professional training from Singh Bandhu Ji (New Delhi), who is among the leading classical music exponents of India. Currently, Simran runs Sur Sangam Sangeet classes and teaches Semi-classical, Classical, Gurbani in raags and many other styles.

Performer: Kiran Ahluwalia - Voice & Composition

kiran Ahluwalia

Performer Bio:
Internationally acclaimed, award-winning vocalist and composer, Kiran Ahluwalia explores the language of the heart with beautiful artistry and smoldering intensity, redefining Indian song in a contemporary and global context.


Born in India, raised in Canada, and now living in New York City, her enchanting and seductive music has garnered glowing praise from critics around the world. Her latest CD Aam Zameen : Common Ground was recently awarded Canada's grammy - the prestigious JUNO Award for BEST WORLD MUSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR. This was her second JUNO win and the award tops exciting news for the Indo-Canadian Singer, who also won the Canadian Folk Music Award for World Solo Artist of the Year; in the USA her album won the Indie Acoustic Award and in the UK it was selected by Songlines magazine as one of the Ten Top of the World CD’s.


Kiran has long been on a path to mastery to sing and compose. “When I was growing up in India, very few people had recordings of any kind,” she recalls. “There were state sponsored concerts that people from all over would crowd into. These concerts were not primarily for children. They featured a repertoire, language and content that was both demanding and beyond the experience of a child. I was, however, entranced by the sound and feel of the music, even from an early age.


Her music has garnered glowing praise from critics around the world. Hers’ is “a voice destined to enchant more than one generation” (fROOTS) and she possesses “a deep spirituality and tranquility that borders on the mystic” (Sing Out Magazine).


With each successive recording project, Kiran has moved ever onward from her own musical upbringing, reaching well beyond her extensive training in the genres of traditional ghazal and Punjabi folk song. Her compositions and arrangements are a reflection of an ongoing quest to create timeless music in a modern and global context, that looks to the future while still maintaining a vital through line to its storied past.


Performer: Rez Abbasi - Guitar

Rez Abbasi

Performer Bio:
Guitarist Rez Abbasi has developed a unique sound both as a composer and an instrumentalist and is considered to be one of the foremost modern jazz guitar players the world over. A recent New York Times review noted, “Mr. Abbasi has fashioned a career out of contemporary fusions, with keen insight and fleet technique” and The Wall Street Journal calls his music “high-powered - fused with the ecstatic groove of qawalli music from his native Pakistan with forward thinking jazz.”


Born in Pakistan, raised in California, and a New Yorker since the early 1990s, Abbasi recently explained his musical approach as quoted by Downbeat magazine -“I follow a self-imposed mandate to balance the heartfelt and the theoretical. If it ventures off too much either way, it loses me. It’s about expression.”


Aside from his work with Kiran’s group as guitarist and arranger, he plays a vital role in many other projects. His 2009 album, which features Kiran, was selected in Downbeat Magazine’s, “Best Records of the Decade”. Legendary guitarist and multi-Grammy winner, Pat Metheny, said of Rez, “He is an amazing guitarist and unique composer.” Most recently, Rez was chosen in Downbeat’s critics poll as the Number #1 Rising Star Guitarist.


Performer: Humble The Poet - Artist/Rapper

Humble The Poet

Performer Bio:
Kanwer Singh aka Humble The Poet is an elementary school teacher & Toronto bred MC/Spoken Word Artist with an aura that embodies the diversity and resiliency of one of the World’s most unique cities. Tattoos, beard, head wrap and a silly smile, Humble commands attention. His appearance is only overshadowed by his presence and delivery; stimulating audiences with ideas that challenge conventional wisdom and go against the grain. Humble is introducing a critical viewpoint to Hip Hop’s Landscape, and having a lot of fun in the process.


From the classroom to centre stage, Humble utilizes the myriad of experiences in his life and consolidates them into digestible lyricism, witty choruses, and unmatched energy layered over infectious production


In 2008, Kanwer Singh began releasing independently recorded tracks on (YouTube) with self-made videos shared through social networking sites. By early 2009, Kanwer adopted the stage name ‘Humble The Poet’ and launched, a space to share his works and those of others that inspire him.  The launch of this site also coincided with the release of his first project -00:05. Humble has since released two more projects aptly titled -00:04 & -00:03. Humble The Poet has also been featured in numerous publications and major hip hop web sites including: MTV Iggy, MTV K, Rolling Stone, FHM, World Star Hip Hop, Allhiphop, & 2dopeboyz.


Humble has toured North America, most notably at Lollapalooza 2012, and recently made a splash internationally, performing at major festivals in London, Delhi, and Pune. He was featured in Goa as part of the documentary series The Dewarists, which was broadcast on India’s largest English-speaking network, Star World. The Dewarists has since gone on to win Bronze at The Cannes Lions Festival. Humble is also the subject of the SikhLens supported Documentary “Humble The Poet” by Chapman University Director Brendan Naumas. The documentary is currently a 2012 Cecil Award Nominee.


Humble has also pursued ventures outside the music world, recently modeling for designer Raji Aujla at The Fashion & Art’s Toronto CitySCAPE event. He will be featured in the upcoming film ‘Picture Day, which was selected for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.’ He Is also set to release his first book titled UnLEARN at the top of 2014.

Humble currently released a collaborative album with L.A Producer KinG! Titled F.E.A.T.H.E.R.S available at

More on Humble The Poet and his work at

Press Quote
"I'm excited to be a part of a wonderful event that further pushes creatives and their arts inspired by Sikh Heritage"

Performer: Kamaljeet Ahluwalia - Santoor

Kamaljeet Ahluwalia

Performer Bio:
Kamaljeet Ahluwalia is part of the new wave of Asian musicians emerging from the UK. A disciple of the legendary maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, she uses her Indian classical roots to walk an innovative path on the Santoor, a rare and exquisite hammered dulcimer/zither that can simultaneously explore vast sublime melodies and intricate detailed rhythmic patterns.

Performer: Neelamjit Dhillon - Tabla & Saxophone

Performer Bio:
Neelamjit Dhillon obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies (majoring in saxophone performance) from Capilano. He has obtained a Masters in tabla performance from CalArts and is now pursuing his doctorate there. The tabla is Neelamjit’s first instrument; he studies under the tutelage of world-renowned maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain.

Performer: Jaswinder Ahluwalia - Tabla

Performer Bio:
A child prodigy on the tabla, American-born Jas Ahluwalia studied under Ustad Tari Khan. Jas’s recent performances include collaborations with Grammy winner Osvaldo Golijov at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Gingger Shankar, Bombay Dub Orchestra, grammy-nominated Jazz Pianist Rob Mullins, and guitarist Andy Summers of The Police.

Performer: Gurpreet Sarin - Singer

Performer Bio:
While having a Bachelor’s in Computer and Information Science at the University of Maryland, Gurpreet has always been passionate about music. He is blessed to have been born into a musically talented family, which has roots in Gurmat Sangeet and Indian Classical Music.


Gurpreet’s passion for singing and music led him to audition for Season 12 of American Idol, where he successfully made it to the Top 40 contestants. His colorful Turban automatically caught the attention of the judges and producers and his love for Blues, Jazz, Soul, and R&B, mixed with Indian Classical Music, gave him a unique and artistic style which stood out in the competition. Being the firstSikh American on the show, Gurpreet has opened doors for Sikhs to enter mainstream America and has utilized American Idol as a platform to educate America and the world about Sikhism.

Performer: Nisha Sembi - Artist

Performer Bio:
Nisha Kaur Sembi was born and raised in Berkeley, California where she currently lives and works. With any art that she produces, whether it be her digital, fine art, or street art work, Nisha’s main objective is to use her art as a platform to bridge self expression with social change. By combining Indian culture with hip-hop culture, Nisha has channeled a new style called Kalakari (“Artistry”) through which she has been crafting art work, digital design projects, and apparel design that break through traditional boundaries and bring forth a fresh and eclectic urban/cultural aesthetic.


Nisha’s work has been exhibited widely at art venues throughout the Bay Area, including two separate features at the esteemed deYoung Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Her most recent mixed-media soloexhibit called Word to Your Motherland (2012) that took place in Oakland, California and again in Sacramento California (2013); which has evolved into a dynamic new international exhibition series witheducational workshop components that is the first of its kind.

Performer: Raman Dhillon - Dj doc bLAdez

Performer Bio:
Raman Dhillon, AKA “doc bLAdez” began his interest in music at a very young age. In the late 1980s, bLAdez’ grandfather taught him how to play the harmonium, as well recite Sikh hymns and prayers at local Gurdwaras. In the early 1990s, bLAdez began his interest in deejaying. In 1996 bLAdez’ and his brother formed the Five River Fundamentalists; a consortium of DJs, Emcees, and producers. In 2003, he won the Cerritos Guitar Center DJ Battle and later went on to compete for the U.S. Championship. In 2012, doc competed in the most famous of all DJ competitions, the WORLD DMC DJ Championship in theLos Angeles heat. bLAdez has also deejayed for and alongside hundreds of UK Bhangra Artists, Hip Hop artists and DJs across the world. His talent of seamlessly mixing scratches, beat juggles, and bodytricks while playing a of Hip-Hop, Punjabi, Dubstep, and Drum ‘n’ Bass is outstanding.