A segment dedicated to decorated personalities of Indian origin and/or heritage who eventually moved
to the foreign land to achieve their professional aspirations. Doing so, they became ‘foreigners’, for namesake to their motherland. In this segment, we wish to explore their journey from Desh to Videsh and try to peek into their hearts as to where it beats.
In the heart of Meerut, India, Alka Bhatnagar was born into a family steeped in a rich tradition of music. Gifted with a melodious and baritone voice, her journey into the world of music began under the tutelage of her father, Shri B.N. Srivastava, a distinguished figure in classical and light music during his era. Alka’s childhood was filled with the teachings of classical music, and her dedication eventually led her to achieve the ‘Sangeet Prabhakar’ with distinction, earning her the title of Gold Medalist and standing at the top of her merit.
Before making a mark in Bollywood, Alka Bhatnagar started her artistic journey as an All India Radio (A.I.R.) and TV artist, showcasing her multifaceted talents. Her musical education included learning from renowned maestros such as Pundit Ganesh Prasad Misra, Ustad Altaf Hussain, Vinod Chatterjee, Pandit S.N. Goswami, and Ustad Mohd. Wazir.
Alka is celebrated for seamlessly blending classical nuances with a modern touch through her imaginative improvisations. Her voice control, modulation mastery, superb intonation, and unique style, combining the finest of baritone and the lowest of contralto, set her apart in the world of music.
With numerous music albums released in India and abroad, Alka Bhatnagar has collaborated with illustrious artists like Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota and top playback singers such as Suresh Wadkar, Ghulam Ali, Mohammed Aziz, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Abhijeet, Shaan, Javed Ali, Babul Supriya, and Sandeep Shikar. Her melodious contributions extend to both films and TV serials.
Recognized as a singer of eminence, Alka Bhatnagar’s accolades include the ‘U.P. Ratna Award’ by the Government of Uttar Pradesh for her outstanding contributions to popularizing Indian music globally, along with the designation as the Cultural Ambassador of U.P. (India) in the USA. She has also received the prestigious ‘Rumi World Music Award’ in the United States and was recently honored as the best NRI singer of the year at the Delhi International Film Festival.
As a Democratic Delegate of District 25 in the Bay Area of California, Alka has not only excelled in the political arena but also established herself as the Founder and Guru of “Sur Bahar,” a premier school of music promoting Indian music and art in the USA. Her dream of sharing the beauty of classical Indian music with audiences in the East and West has been realized through numerous concerts worldwide.
Alka Bhatnagar actively contributes to the Indian community abroad, celebrating India’s Republic Day, Independence Day, and various festivals and events in the USA every year. She plays a crucial role as the Chair (Music) for the Federation of Indo American Society, Festival of Globe, and is affiliated with numerous cultural, religious, and spiritual organizations, working tirelessly for the Indian diaspora.
A tireless advocate for defense veterans, Alka voluntarily entertains them, expressing gratitude for their sacrifices for the safety of the country. Her special involvement with UPMA (Uttar Pradesh Mandal Association) showcases her dedication to preserving Indian culture and traditions.
Alka Bhatnagar’s relentless efforts, both in the USA and India, have made her a cherished figure, contributing significantly to the growth and development of her homeland while leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. She raised funds to bring breast awareness programs for underprivileged women in rural areas of India through her concert in Lucknow. Shri Maurya, Deputy Chief Minister of UP, honoured her with the Maharshi CharakSamman Award for this work. She was also honoured with the “Covid Yodha” title in Mumbai for helping needy people during the Covid epidemic.
She received the Best NRI Singer award twice at the Delhi International Film Festival in 2017 and 2018 and for three consecutive years at the Haryana International Film Festival in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Additionally, she was honoured with the “Pride of India 2023” award held in Chicago, USA.
The State Legislative Assembly of California, USA, declared her a “Community Hero” for her exceptional work. She has also raised funds for earthquake victims in Nepal and contributed to the construction of hospitals and schools in Fiji Islands through her concerts. She has been teaching Indian music to children with autism to help them return to normal life, a noble effort greatly recognized by the Sangeet Foundation of London.
Alka Bhatnagar’s journey from Meerut to the USA, as a musical luminary and community advocate, enriches cultures, fostering harmony worldwide.