Korla Pandit — Disguising identity: From Black to Indian

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-10-21 02:43Z by Steven

Korla Pandit — Disguising identity: From Black to Indian

Northwest Asian Weekly
Seattle, Washington
Volume 34, Number 43 (October 17 – October 23, 2015)

Andrew Hamlin

Korla Pandit

Two hands hold a large censer. A voice speaks of wisdom and rubies. A deep, slightly scraggly voice. The action fades-in to a man in a turban with a jewel mounted between his eyes. Fixing his eyes upon the camera, Korla Pandit begins his act.

And his act was the Hammond Organ, augmented with a Steinway piano to his right. Playing mostly organ, occasionally piano, sometimes one with each hand, Pandit played for fifteen minutes on Los AngelesKTLA-TV from 1949 until 1951. He did not rock and roll and he did not get down and dirty with the blues, but he flitted easily between all other types of music, playing popular tunes, show tunes, traditional, and ethnic music from around the world. He was one of the first television stars, but he never spoke on camera. The narrator off-screen was someone else.

And Korla Pandit had reason to never speak. Speaking might have given away his secret…

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