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Nepalese musician
Sushil Gautam holding Nepali sarangee, Nepalese musician, 2014; Sushil Gautam; Somerville, Massachusetts; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Sushil Gautam holding Nepali sarangee, Nepalese musician, 2014
Sushil Gautam
Somerville, Massachusetts
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Sushil Gautam playing the sarangee; Nepalese musician; 2014: Somerville, Massachusetts
Sushil Gautam playing a jaw harp; Nepalese musician; 2014: Somerville, Massachusetts
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Sushil Gautam
Lowell, MA
Sushil Gautam was born and raised in the foothills of Nepal's Himalayan Mountains, in a village near the city of Pokhara, Nepal. Economic opportunities and the chance to better his daughter's future motivated him to emigrate. Selected by lottery for a green card, Sushil and his family resettled in Massachusetts in 2013.

Sushil plays the sarangi, a Nepalese four-stringed fiddle, and the jaw harp. These musical instruments are associated with a once discriminated against caste of occupational musicians in Nepal known as the Gandharba. Until fairly recently, it was possible for the Gandharba to make a decent living in Nepal. Much like other hereditary musicians, they played a key role in society, traveling from village to village, entertaining farmers and spreading the news. But times have changed and their music tradition is now endangered.

Although Sushil is not from this caste, he fondly recalls their music from his childhood. He feels fortunate to have studied the sarangi with one of Nepal's most renowned players, Khim Bahadur Gandharba. Before leaving Nepal, Sushil was teaching sarangi, performing, and making recordings. He has worked hard to help elevate the Gandharbas' status and preserve their traditions. He was also involved in establishing the Music Museum of Nepal and published a guide to playing the sarangi. One of his motivations is to change the hereditary system of learning sarangi in Nepal, opening the instrument up to everyone.
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