An Indian American composer in Seattle, Washington, has won the top award in the World Music category in the 2020 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The award, announced in May, is the first time an Indian song has won the award.
The winning song, "Akhiyaan," was written and composed by Indian American Rohit Batra of ‘Sur in Seattle’, produced by George Varghese of Verge Studios, and sung by “Indian Idol” alum Geetesh Iyer, according to a press release. "Akhiyaan" was also the Session 1 Grand Prize winner in 2019.
"This is a big moment for independent Indian musicians. We are breaking a mold as non-Bollywood music is being recognized on the world stage,” said Batra.
The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is an international contest that started in 1997. Judges select one of the 12 category winners and will announce ‘Song of the Year’ in July. The judges panel includes noted international singers/songwriters, performers, and industry veterans such as Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince Royce, Natasha Bedingfield, and Gaby Moreno, said the release.
Sur in Seattle was founded by Batra in 2016. Their mission is to collaborate with up-and-coming musicians and singers to create original Indian content, and amplify their voices.