For over a decade, young musician Debasish Borah popularly known as Devraz Borah has pursued an intensely personal vision of what music can be, studying its evolution, drawing influence from various genres, styles and learning to play instruments. His sole mission — to push the traditional music further on and further out into the infinite.
To read a list of Devraz Borah’s accomplishments is to read many life stories in one: masterful pianist; singer; lyricist; poet and writer. Immersed from a young age with music, and consumed by a serious penchant into pushing regional music to a global platform, he is a singular, genre-defying artist across realms – classical and contemporary, traditional and western.
Devraz began studying traditional music and Jyoti Sangeet, Bishnu Sangeet, Bhupendra Sangeet and the songs of Parvati Prasad Baruah from the year 2002, at a very young age under the intensive tutelage of his mother, and his home tutor Meenakshi Deka and preetilekha Mina Das. He simultaneously took music lessons in ‘Borgeet’ from Late Punyabrata Deva Goswami, eminent personality in the field of music.
After making his professional debut at an event by Trimurti Udyan in Tezpur in the year 2003, he began performing regularly at various music events and festivals in and around his hometown, which counts to almost 200+ live shows. He then embarked on a successful music career, becoming known for his virtuosic yet emotional playing style, unusual instrumentation, and precise rhythmic interplay.
This young music aficionado seems to keep complacency aside by delving deeper into more creative ventures which is slightly evident from the fact that he was also training for ‘Bishnu Rabha Geet’ by Pranab Lahkar while taking music lessons for Shashtriya Sangeet or Indian Classical Music at the same time. His love for music also led him to learn new instruments like Tabla, Guitar and few traditional instruments like Nagada, Khol, Dhol, Taal etc. This was during 2005 to 2007, and in the following years, he started playing the Dhol, especially during the Bihu festival and was a active part of the ‘Bihu Husori’ teams. During the Rongali Bihu festival, he performed Bihu songs live at various public events and continued it till the year 2018.
Devraz had always been extra keen on learning and exploring music instruments, and one such instrument that piqued his interest was Piano. He started taking Piano classes in 2008 and became proficient within a year to start performing live at various functions. His talent was soon recognized widely, and he gave his first ever public recital at Guwahati University’s Youth Festival, as a student from Darrang College. The new instrument reinvigorated Devraz, and within a few years he was on a clear trajectory to greatness.
Among his unending list of notable skills is his tabla playing skill which he has proved time and again while playing at various college fests along with Kathak Dancers. He has played Tabla and Piano at Radio Akashwani as well during the years 2008-09. He also mastered the Assamese instrument called Dotura and has performed at Tezpur’s Thespian Cultural group for almost 3 to 4 years.
This is not all, Devraz is also gradually making his mark as a singer, with three popular Assamese songs to his credit, namely Abeli Abeli, Xunali and Boliya Nadi. Abeli Abeli was his first recorded song and it’s music was given by a well known Mumbai based musician named Mrinmoy Sharma. Xunali was his second song, written and sung by him and it’s music arranged by Paran Borkataky (jojo). His third song named Boliya Nodi was also written and sung by him.
To top it all off, this incredibly talented person is also a poet, and a published one. He has 3 published poetry books under his credit— his first book titled Dapoon was launched in 2014 by the Asomiya Sahitya Sanmilan. His second poetry book named Dolisa was launched by Assam Sahitya Sabha in Kaliabor Adhibeshan. He has another poetry book, his third, named Shabdjaal completed towards the end of 2019. However, it couldn’t be officially launched due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. He is currently working on two more poetry books, titled Rang and Swapnaruhi which will be published shortly.
Debasish also indulges in a lot of poetry recitation, his two most famous recitations being Miss Meghali Baruah and Miss Anuradha Baruah which is available on his YouTube channel. Another book is yet to release next year which will be entirely focused on Sound Therapy, the relation between Sound or Music and Human Hormones.
Devraz is also working on five more songs which are yet to be launched officially. He had recently collaborated with international musicians from many countries for his upcoming songs Barixare Rati and Boroxibo Bororxa whose sound mixing is going on right now in Canada. There have been talks of launching these songs by the end of the year 2022.
As part of his future endeavours, devraz is planning to step foot into the world of Cinema.
He’s in talks with Mumbai based sound designer Devabrata Chaliha for a film project which they’re planning to wrap up by 2025.
Apart from being actively involved with music and writing, Devraz is also dedicated to educating young aspiring music enthusiasts to pursue music. He gives lessons to young kids from schools in rural areas of Assam on various instruments as well as teaches them about Indian and Western Classical Music, scheduling it every six months.
As part of his commitment to music education, he published a non fiction book called Magnifying Music which is an anthology of music. It gives an incisive and enthusiastic look at the musical art form, from its very inceptions to the influences that shape it, whether acoustical, economic, social or technological. The book also studies topics like Sound Therapy and traces the origin and evolution of world music.
He is very keen on conducting regular research on Assamese traditional Music, be it the local instruments, the roots and the origin of the music. From time to time, he endeavours to spread more awareness about Assamese Music and considers it very crucial as a musician to strive hard towards giving international prominence that our regional music deserves. He is on a clear mission to inspire the next generation of music lovers and enthusiasts by championing music education, by nurturing our musical heritage amongst today’s youth.
Music has a place of primacy in Indian culture: in traditional aesthetics, music is often allegorised as ‘the food of the soul’. It symbolises India’s remarkable diversity in cultural,linguistic and religious terms and embodies the historical tides that have shaped its contemporary pluralism. It is most important nowadays, to preserve and promote Indian classical Music amongst the young generations. This rich cultural heritage and its traditional values are fading out from our society due to our fascination towards westernization.
Devraz is on a mission to try to reinforce our regional culture and music, especially of the Northeastern region. Northeastern music reflects its amazingly diverse mix of ethnicities and languages, its long history of influence from Tibbet and Mongolian. He is religiously dedicated towards finding untapped elements in our music and taking it to the global platform like many other renowned Indian musicians. He wants musicians like him to start thinking beyond the region and applying new strategies to create more awareness, securing international collaborations, making commercially appealing tunes and utilizing the power of our unique sounds and instruments to get noticed.
Every artist plays a different and necessary part in contributing to the overall health, development, and well-being of our society. As a creative thinker, Devraz is providing his community with joy, interaction, and inspiration. He has gifted musical instruments to young music lovers from rural areas to encourage their budding interest and help them hone their already developing skills.
At the same time, he’s also giving thoughtful critique to our political, economic and social systems — pushing communities to engage thoughtfully and make steps toward social progress. He regularly participates in discussions about health, water hygiene and human rights, and is very vocal about social issues, pernicious and undesirable social vices which must be shunned.
With great power comes great responsibility, and this young lad dreams of leaving behind a wealth of contributions to music as well as India’s cultural milieu. All of this speaks to a rare breed of artist; one who can balance many lives in one, each one seeming as natural as the next.