A Kentucky State University business professor is building a successful career in the classroom and on the global music stage.
Dr. Swagata “Ban” Banerjee, an associate professor of economics and finance at Kentucky State, is also one half of the musical duo Ban Brothers. His older brother, Gautam, is the other half of the duo.
The Ban Brothers recently won their sixth award for their current album, “All About Love: Music From The Heart.” Their most recent award is a Hollywood Music in Media Award (HMMA) in the world category.
“Hearing our name called out felt like being in a dream,” Banerjee said. “There were 12 nominees in our category, including Grammy winners such as Wouter Kellerman and Daniel Ho, who also happen to be our friends.”
The experience was unforgettable, Banerjee said. They also got to dine with songwriting legend Diane Warren, musician and American Idol judge Randy Jackson and rock-and-roll hall of famers Earth, Wind & Fire.
“Getting the award was like icing on the already sumptuous cake,” Banerjee said. “But it indeed was a sweet and memorable icing, I must say!”
Previously the brothers won three Global Music Awards, an Akademia Music Award and One World Music Radio’s (OWMR) best world/global fusion album of 2016. They’ve also held the number one spot on the OWMR Top 100 charts. With other co-writing partners, Banerjee won two songwriting awards for two different songs, one of which peaked at number three on the American Idol underground folk chart.
“Our music generally projects a very fun, positive, happy, uplifting message,” Banerjee said. “I believe such a message nullifies negativity and helps spiritual growth.”
Banerjee added that “artists have historically been the harbingers of change in their own subtle, unique ways.”
“I think it is important to speak our mind and do our little bit to bring change,” he said. “Always onward and upward, as my doctoral major professor, Dr. Michael Wetzstein, used to say.”
Banerjee said he began making music with his brother while finishing high school and beginning college. They recorded their first studio album when he was still an undergrad.
“While we got our music through our dad, I owe a great deal of my initial training in songwriting to my brother,” Banerjee said.
While business professor and music sensation might seem like two unlikely career aspirations, it’s nothing new to Banerjee’s family.
“Both teaching and music run in my family,” he said. “Dad was a versatile musical genius – multi-instrumentalist, with a natural ability to play both eastern and western instruments – and a painter; but he was also a teacher of music and fine arts.”
His mother is a retired teacher and his maternal uncle is a top-notch academician (applied physicist) who retired as the pro-vice chancellor of finance of the University of Calcutta in India. Banerjee said they inherited their entrepreneurial spirit from their paternal grandfather, who was a poet, editor, lawyer, speaker and businessman in the areas of manufacturing, cosmetics and printing press.
“Being trained in various genres and having lived in both eastern and western hemispheres have allowed me to imbibe the best of all genres and both worlds, respectively, and I thank my parents for always being the unbelievable pillar of support for making that happen and my brother for continuing to collaborate with me and provide his professional assistance,” Banerjee said.
Banerjee is in his first semester at Kentucky State. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s in economics from the University of Calcutta and a master’s in resource and applied economics from the University of Nevada in Reno. He earned a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Georgia in Athens.
Previously he worked as a post-doctoral associate at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research & Extension Center and held faculty positions at Alabama A&M University and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Visit banbrothers.com for more information about the Ban Brothers.