They seem two worlds apart – the highly visible world of rock’n’roll, popstars and fashion in California, New York and London, and the vast unseen world of India’s 600,000 villages where one in eight of the planet’s population still live in extreme deprivation. Yet the unnecessary and much grieved death in 2008 of a young 42-year old highlighted a slender thread between the two.
It’s that thread which led record producer Barney Cordell, when planning an album in tribute to his younger brother Tarka, to single out Jeevika Trust. As a small charity working through its grassroots NGO partners in India we can effectively dedicate the royalties the artists have generously waived to a memorial project for Tarka in village India.
This month the album itself has finally been born with a fanfare of publicity. So we owe Barney a huge thank you, and wish this creative act all possible success.
Tarka and Friends: Life is the title, produced under Barney’s label Room 609. Please, please buy it now!
It’s a haunting collection of tracks by Lily Allen (Shelter Me), Tarka’s mentor Evan Dando (Lovely New York) and other artists with close links to Tarka. The album echoes a collection of his own songs which Tarka would soon, but for his death, have released under the title Wide Awake in a Dream - which Tarka himself described as ‘a compelling story of (his) heady days in New York City’.
That slender thread between the two worlds was Tarka’s own life. His legendary producer father Denny’s sudden death of cancer in 1995, and failure of his own musical career to take off, seem to have impacted Tarka deeply and he took a year out in India where he later admitted he ‘rode a motor-bike and took loads of drugs’. We don’t know how else he spent that time, but it seems to have made a deep impression on him and drawn him back: only days before his suicide he had just returned from another stint in rural India, and it is this link to India which Barney has wanted to celebrate with Jeevika’s help.
Jeevika has been focused, since our foundation in 1970 on the endemic poverty of life in village India. The Indian government has always prioritised industrial and urban development: it annually watches millions of rural people drifting into city slums, and is neither systematically investing in infrastructure to accommodate them, nor facilitating systematic growth of village livelihoods.
Jeevika’s projects for water & sanitation, health & nutrition and women’s income generation have been addressing this vacuum over the past 10 years.
A new model for village livelihood is needed: neither government nor the business sector is taking the necessary initiatives, and it is left to NGOs to move things forward. Jeevika is launching this year a ‘tri-sector’ model in which the roles of the state, private and voluntary sectors – are redefined.
So once again, we hope you’ll respond to this blog by ordering your copy of the new album on line at www.tarkamusic.com and recommending it to your friends.