As a child, Zakir Hussain performed regularly for his bread and butter, and sometimes a bottle of Coke.
More than half a century later the award-winning musician and his tabla, an Indian hand drum, are still playing for bread and butter, but in far nicer venues and a lot more of each.
Playing with musical legends George Harrison, Yo-Yo Ma, Van Morrison and others, Hussain has more than earned his seat among them and his title of tabla master.
On March 20, Hussain will be joined by an all-star cast of Indian and Celtic musicians at the Moore Theatre as part of his latest tour, “Celtic Connections: The Pulse of the World,” a 22-day, 15-city run showcasing the connection between each of the musical cultures.
“It’s a jam band with a touch of the highlands when Indian ragas meets Scottish strathspeys,” Hussain said of the show.
He said the show reveals the close melodic and rhythmic connections shared by both traditions and engages audiences in ways they may never have experienced.
“In that 2-hour period the worries of the outside world are left where they are,” he said. “Maybe you smile, regenerate, so you can go out and face the world again.”
It’s that love of not just music, but its genuine affect on people that drew Hussain to share his talent starting at age 7, he said.
But his exposure to music, the tabla and the right-hand piece he still plays today, started even earlier.
“I’ve been with this instrument since I was a babe, sleeping with it nightly,” he said. “I still play the acoustic drum because I spoke to it, it spoke to me and we fell in love so long ago.”
Hussain said playing the same right-hand drum throughout his career allows him to give a piece of himself to the audience musically that few musicians get to share.
“It’s like I’m sharing a part of me … something near and dear to me,” he said. “It’s the best toy you could find.”
For more information about the show or to purchase tickets, visit www.stgpresents.org.