Leading the way in female bhangra, Parv Kaur tells Shelley Carter how she cracked this male-dominated world
Glastonbury, Bollywood, House of Commons, LG Arena – you name it, the talented girls at Eternal Taal have probably done it. With a CV to be proud of and accolades pouring in, the female bhangra group takes it all in its stride thanks to inspirational founder Parv Kaur. The 30-strong group has an impressive track record performing not only in the Asian community but outside it as well, allowing new audiences to enjoy and appreciate bhangra. Founder and trainer Parv said: “Our aim is to promote and perform bhangra music to as many different people as possible, whether it is a small stage or a high profile event.” Rocking the Glastonbury festival with bhangra beats was a highlight for Parv and the girls.
Parv has been hooked on bhangra since childhood and by the age of 14 she had mastered keyboard, dhol and dholki drums encouraged by her musical father, Balbir Singh. He was lead singer of a bhangra band called Bhujangy Group who are credited with being the first band to introduce bhangra to the UK in 1967. Growing up Parv was heavily influenced by the band and regularly attended gigs sometimes performing in the background which allowed her to hone her musical skills and stage performance. Although Parv loved performing with her father, she decided to branch out on her own and try something a bit more modern – a brave thing to do given bhangra still remains largely male-dominated. She started running bhangra drumming classes called Eternal Taal, meaning Everlasting Beats, which quickly grew from a highly sought-after weekly class attracting students from all over the Midlands to a performance group as well. In addition to the technical aspects and performance of bhangra, it’s important to Parv to teach the history and background of the genre too – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Recognised globally, Parv’s dedication to bhangra has been applauded many times and in 2010 she was presented with an award for her ‘Contribution of Bhangra music in the UK’ by the House of Commons. She’s also been nominated for ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the Institute of Asian Businesses (IAB) and ‘Best in Arts and Culture’ by the Asian Women in Achievements and the British Indian Awards. All this while holding down a career as a lecturer in computer science! The determination and drive it’s taken to succeed in both careers is evident when we speak. Parv’s clearly busy, highly talented and definitely not afraid of hard graft – a sure fire recipe for success.