5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Bhi Bhiman
Bhi Bhiman’s songs traverse R&B, power pop, socially conscious folk, and even hints of country and rockabilly. As a son of Sri Lankan immigrants, Bhiman grew up in Middle America with an all-American childhood, playing baseball and passing time noodling on a guitar. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Bhi Bhiman. Hear him in concert in Zankel Hall on Saturday, March 10 as part of The ’60s: The Years that Changed America.
While on tour with Rosanne Cash—who, by the way, was Carnegie Hall’s 2014–2015 Perspectives artist—Bhiman was struck by the number of immigrants in Belgium and was inspired to write the song “Moving to Brussels.” Bhiman describes the piece as “an immigrant’s story described as a love song.”
Bhiman was injured when he was 13 years old during a baseball tournament, which kept him from playing baseball for several months. He played his brother’s guitar during his recovery and eventually fell in love with rock bands like Nirvana, AC/DC, and Soundgarden.
Bhiman met Keegan-Michael Key while performing on the live radio show Wits and recruited the comedian-actor to star in his music video for “Moving to Brussels.”
Bhiman never formally trained his voice. He would sit in his car and sing to his favorite records by the likes of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and others. One of his musical role models is Kim Thayil of Soundgarden. As Bhiman puts it, “He might be the only role model that looked like me that I had. I can’t think of anyone else, really.”
Listen to Kim Thayil and Bhi Bhiman discuss their South Asian roots, and the social and physical injuries that led them to play the guitar.
Bhiman participated in a tribute concert to Prince at Carnegie Hall in 2013, where he sang “When Doves Cry.”
Photo by Fred Pessaro.