Kavin Paulraj is an ethnomusicologist, historian, and musician from Chennai, India. He has taught world music courses at Santa Clara University since 2017. He also leads SCU’s new world music ensemble—the Afro-Atlantic Ensemble—featuring music from the Caribbean, West & Central Africa, and Brazil.
Dr. Paulraj researches global reggae scenes, specifically Brazil and India. He studies the political, social, economic, commercial, and technological contexts that create and transform 20th century urban cultural scenes. Dr. Paulraj is also a pioneering artist in the Indian reggae/dancehall scene, where he is known simply as “Kavin”; his original music features Tamil vocals and Indian musical ideas blended with Jamaican musical traditions, and his songs speak of social justice and artistic freedom.
Dr. Paulraj performs occasionally with his Chennai-based band and also plays bass for the New Delhi-based reggae band The Fire Starters. He earned his musical stripes as the bass guitarist for afrobeat band Kokolo (led by Ray Lugo), with whom he toured over 20 countries in Europe and North America, sharing the stage with the likes of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Joe Bataan, and Manu Dibango. Dr. Paulraj has collaborated with artists from across the musical spectrum: Diggy Dang (New Delhi), Jake Fader, Neil Chastain (Cleveland), Celia Sampaio, Fabiana Dias (Brazil), and Sandy Perez (Cuba). Dr. Paulraj is also a founding member of the Dangdut Cowboys with Dr. Andrew Weintraub. His recording credits include albums by Kokolo, Ray Lugo, and The Boogaloo Destroyers.