It’s not an easy task to forge your own path and establish a career as a professional sitarist.
The challenge becomes even greater when you’re a young lad born and raised in Leeds, UK. But that’s exactly what Jasdeep Singh Degun accomplished. Growing up with the dual identities of being British and South Asian is a complex experience, especially for those whose parents were raised in South Asia. These individuals navigate life while striving to raise their children in a completely new cultural environment, often concerned about how much of their South Asian heritage their children will embrace.
The stereotype of Asian children being pushed towards careers in medicine, law, or engineering holds some truth. Asian parents, many of whom arrived in the UK with less than £10 in their pockets, faced tremendous challenges such as racism, prejudice, limited opportunities, and various glass ceilings while working tirelessly to build a new life. It took them years to achieve financial stability in their careers.
Naturally, they didn’t want their children to go through the same struggles, and believed that only professions in medicine, law, and engineering would provide financial security.
Simultaneously, Asian and South Asian parents make significant efforts to ensure their children remain connected to their community and culture. Food, religion, and festivals play important roles in this endeavor, but the arts hold a special place. Art allows individuals to explore their identities and find ways to express themselves. Jasdeep’s journey with the sitar began when he started learning from Dharambir Singh in Leeds as a child, and it quickly transcended the realm of mere hobby. His passion for Indian classical music and the sitar ignited at an early age, which led to our encounter with him during the first rehearsal of SAMYO (the UK’s South Asian Music Youth Orchestra).
From his humble beginnings with SAMYO to his recent nationwide tour promoting his debut album ‘Anomaly,’ we have witnessed Jasdeep’s incredible journey as an Indian classical musician in the UK. We take pride in seeing someone with immense talent and passion overcome numerous obstacles to forge a meaningful and successful career in music.
Prior to his June 2023 tour, Jasdeep reflected on his musical journey and how his dual British/South Asian identity played a significant role in shaping the music he created for his album ‘Anomaly.’ Click here to take a read!