ASIABEAT Anthology Launch in Aid of Orang Asli in Malaysia

ASIABEAT Anthology - upholding roots, culture and heritage by way of music and charity - launches on 14th and 15th of December 2012 at Hakka Republic, Kuala Lumpur. Mallika Naguran checks in to find out the story behind the positive vibes.

Lewis Pragasam in his early days of exploring percussions

Singapore, 12 December 2012. Lewis Pragasam is known to many as a master drummer and percussionist of international standing. Lewis, known also for his energy, vision and enterpreneurial spirit, has hit upon yet another idea to get the Asian beat resounding louder than before. He’s put together the ASIABEAT Anthology – a set of six CDs with a mega booklet packed with precious memoirs and articles. The first in the series of albums began in 1982, a quick accomplishment since Lewis' founding of ASIABEAT in 1979, a mostly percussion band that has since travelled to many international festivals and concerts. The albums were released over time under various music labels and they reflect a journey of musical adventure, mostly of Lewis’ own, plus “the ever evolving nature of contemporary Asian music”.

The ASIABEAT Anthology will be launched on 14th and 15th December 2012 to improve the plight of the indigenous communities of Malaysia through the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC). A charity campaign is being built surrounding this, explains Lewis, supported by ASIABEAT, Hakka Republic (an award-winning restaurant-bar in Kuala Lumpur) where Lewis’ band Malaysia Soul Review performs regularly, and Privasia, an IT company. Lewis initiated this charity with friends “to give back to society in whatever manner and capacity in my own way”. 

“I’m so thankful for all the blessings that I have and want to share it with those who are less fortunate,” says Lewis who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1990 and taught as an Artist in Residence at East Carolina University. In 2012, Lewis spent five months in Cambodia, which left him deeply impressed by the poverty situation there. This prompted him to act. “I think we all can and should do our little bit to make this world a better place for everyone,” he says. Part of the proceeds from the album sales goes to COAC, for “the development and well-being of the orang asli people of Peninsula Malaysia”. This, says Lewis, ties in nicely with the ASIABEAT project as that is also about “roots, culture and heritage”.

The launch of ASIABEAT Anthology takes place over a two-day gig with grooves by international artistes such as shakuhachi master John ʻKaizanʼ Neptune (USA/Japan), with whom Lewis has performed and recorded the debut self-titled album ASIABEAT in 1982. The shakuhachi is a Japanese bamboo flute.

Other artistes at the launch include Jazz/R&B vocalist Richard Jackson (USA), saxophone player Mint (Thailand), singer and songwriter Diana Liu (Malaysia), Young Lion of Asian Jazz, bassist Shadu Rasjidi (Indonesia), guitarist Jagadeesh M.R. (India), vocalist Madhuri Jagadeesh (India) and Nashad Emir ʻNashʼ (Malaysia) on harmonica. Lewis will be leading and conducting the ensemble.

Audience can look forward to a repertoire of music selected from the various ASIABEAT albums in addition to compositions by the guest artistes. This ranges from the blues, jazz and contemporary to good ol' roots, of course.

Photos courtesy of ASIABEAT.

Read Gaia Discovery's interview with John Kaizan Nepture and his love affair with flutes.

Wish to get hold of Asiabeat Anthology? Contact Lewis Pragasam directly at or visit his website for details The six CDs box costs RM150 (about US$50).