The Sound of Keerat Kaur
Keerat Kaur draws from Indic philosophies of space and memory, and constructs her own version of Sikh women’s self-knowledge and storytelling.
Whoever loves Drake’s “Know Yourself” – at once an anthem of valid self-congratulation and a tribute to friendships striving for exclusivity – should listen to Keerat Kaur’s spiritual, shape-shifting rendition of it. The singer waves her hands as she holds burning incense sticks, “Pray the real live forever, man / Forever, man / Pray the fakes get exposed” dwelling dreamlike on each O. Kaur’s drawling sound brings to mind Surinder Kaur, a foundational Punjabi folk singer. In her preoccupation with the macabre, she visits the cultural icon’s classical lyricism, rooted in soundscapes intimately familiar to Sikh elders.
The first time I heard Surinder Kaur’s voice was when I showed my nani (maternal grandmother) how to access YouTube. Her reading glasses were carelessly perched near the tip of her pierced nose, the dull gold stud bleakly reflecting the light emanating from the phone screen. She craned her head up stiffly, her gaze uncomfortably low. “Let me show you an example, is there any song or music video you want to watch or listen to?” I asked. “Yes, play Surinder Kaur’s songs.”