Paul Robeson was described as "one of the greatest artists of our generation" by PM Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958, when his birthday was widely celebrated all over India. He was not only an ardent advocate of civil rights at home but his principled stand against US imperial forces tied him to the peace movement. While he was hounded and defamed by the US government, he found a home in India where millions welcomed him and were inspired by his music and devotion to justice at enormous sacrifice.
Mahalia Jackson in India. Photo from Creative Commons
Mahalia Jackson, the famous gospel singer, toured India in 1971. At her concerts, attended by Indira Gandhi, she would say "I have been gospel singing for forty-two years, but today I have very much for which to be thankful to God with great people like the prime minister sitting here." There she sang the civil rights anthem "We shall overcome" . It was translated to various Indian languages and remains to this day etched in the collective memory of India.
John and Alice Coltrane were greatly inspired by Indian musical traditions. John Coltrane performed a piece "India". Alice Coltrane travelled extensively in India, and eventually adopted the name Turiyasangitananda, and performed pieces like "Journey in Satchitananda" and "Turiya and Ramakrishna". They named their son Ravi, after Ravi Shankar whom they met.
Cover of albums, John Handy and Ali Akbar Khan
Jazz saxophonist John Handy and Indian sitarist Ali Akbar Khan produced the album "Karuna Supreme", which was a coming together of the best of both traditions. The name was taken from Coltrane's "A love supreme". Karuna means compassion.