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July 29, 2014

WINDS OF SAMSARA FROM RICKY KEJ & WOUTER KELLERMAN EARNS #1 DEBUT ON BILLBOARD NEW AGE CHART

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 Critics Call 2-Year Collaboration “Epic, a breathtaking effort, groundbreaking”
with Messages of Peace and Positivity and Participation of More than 120
Diverse, Talented Musicians from Five Continents

JULY 29, 2014 (LOS ANGELES) -- Winds of Samsara (www.windsofsamsara.com), the first collaboration between award-winning South African flutist Wouter Kellerman and award-winning Indian Composer/Producer/Artist Ricky Kej debuts at #1 on Billboard Magazine New Age Chart (Aug. 2, 2014). Two years in the making, the boundary-breaking New Age album spotlights the musical, cultural and political connections between India and South Africa from Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela.  It boasts performances by more than 120 musicians from five continents and pushes the boundaries beyond what the New Age genre has ever produced.  Winds of Samsara is distributed by Listen 2 Africa, a global company founded by GRAMMY®-winning producer and recording industry veteran Dave Love. Artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, Oliver Mtukudzi, Hugh Masekela and other top talent from this musically and culturally rich region of the world are a part of Love’s ongoing commitment to southern Africa. For more on the label: www.listen2.com

 “We wanted to make an album throughout which messages of world peace and positivity rang true from the core of the collaborative process and the authenticity of the talented musicians who transcended borders and cultural barriers. We could not be more proud and humbled at the response the album has received thus far in only its first week of availability.  To have an album debut at #1 is every artist’s dream; to have it be an album that so many people worked so hard on because we all believed the messages were crucial for our world today makes it even sweeter,” said Kellerman and Kej.

About Winds of Samsara
“Making this album has challenged us as artists to push borders aside and have the one common thread truly be the universal language of music.  We’ve recorded: in L.A., Seattle, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Bangalore, Bulgaria, full orchestras on most of the tracks, choirs in Australia, India and the U.S., and we’ve used instruments in unexpected ways such as a Dobra, pedal steel guitar and complete string sections playing in Classical Indian styles.  The album’s messages of world peace and positivity ring true from the core of the collaborative process and the authenticity of the talented musicians who transcended borders and cultural barriers.  What bound us all together was the desire to create music that could help affect positive change in the world, and we hope people are moved by the end result.”  Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman

Winds of Samsara debuted in its first week at #1 on Billboard New Age Charts.  Mastering Engineer is 3-time GRAMMY® winner Gavin Lurssen (including 2001 Album of the Year for O, Brother Where Art Thou? and 2008 Album of the Year for Alison Krauss & Robert Plant’s Raising Sand).  A deluxe edition will be available later this year and includes a 5.1 HD Surround Sound mix by GRAMMY®-winner P.A. Deepak (2009 Best Sound Track Album Compilation from Best Picture Oscar® Winner Slumdog Millionaire).

About Wouter Kellerman
Globe-trotting flutist and composer Wouter Kellerman’s album Two Voices won the 2011 South African Music Award (the nation’s equivalent to the Grammy Awards in the United States) for Best Instrumental Album, reinforcing the artist’s standing as one of his home country’s most innovative musicians. Whether writing intricate instrumental compositions or delighting audiences with a magnetic alchemy of warmth and technical mastery, Kellerman finds his inspiration in the spaces between cultures and countries, genres and disciplines. He thrives on experimenting with the shades, textures, and colors that his flute can bring, pushing the instrument into new planes of creativity.
The last few years have seen Kellerman performing in Berlin, Shanghai, New York, Sydney, and beyond, including an appearance in front of 700-million people as part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Ceremony. Amidst such fun, Kellerman simultaneously channeled his musical and life experiences into collaborations with renowned Indian composer and producer Ricky Kej, often working with his partner digitally, from oceans apart, to sculpt the beautiful musical journey of Winds of Samsara.

About Ricky Kej
A true wizard of the keyboard, manuscript page, and recording studio, Kej has earned multiple awards and honors for his composition and production exploits. His projects include creating music for five feature films, twelve albums released by Universal Music, and over two thousand commercials seen by audiences around the world. A student of both Western and Indian classical music, Kej composed original works for the opening ceremony of the Cricket World Cup 2012, held in Dhaka, India; the ceremony was telecast to more than 200 countries and widely heralded for its artistry and execution. For such efforts, Kej was declared an “India Rules Artist” by VH1 in 2013.  Kej was nominated for a Cannes Advertising award for his Nike Jingle, and his previous album Shanti Orchestra was nominated for a ZMR Award (New Orleans) and a Hollywood Music and Media Award (LA).

​Combining a keen sense of culture-jumping harmony, melody, and pacing, Kej synthesizes cutting-edge music technology and traditional instruments of both Indian and European origins into his work, both within the new age genre and beyond. He currently runs two state-of-the-art studios in Bangalore, the Raveolution Studios, where much of Winds of Samsara was developed from spark of an idea to finished album.
Kellerman and GRAMMY-nominated pianist Vincent Lyn will be performing at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall on October 4, 2014.  For more information, visit http://www.carnegiehall.com.

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For More Information & Images of Ricky Kej, Wouter Kellerman, and Cover Art
Ron W Roecker
Enfluence Group
310.384.5641

July 17, 2014

WHAT I LEARNED FROM EMMY AND TONY -WINNING LEGEND ELAINE STRITCH BY RON ROECKER



"Elaine Stritch was a name that I had heard here and there for years growing up but if I were asked what she looked like, I would have crumbled.  Then I started hearing about  "Elaine Stritch at Liberty" -- a one-woman tour de force about the tumultuous career and fiery spirit of Broadway legend Elaine Stritch -- as performed by one woman Elaine Stritch.  So, I bought two tickets and took a friend to go see this woman that I sorta recalled.

At the time she was doing "At Liberty" (an incredibly successful run on Broadway then a national tour of it) -- garnering some of the best reviews of her storied career -- she was 77 years old.  The curtain opened and out came this fiery, feisty woman in a silk cream blouse over black stage tights and black dance shoes.  The outfit would have looked age-inappropriate on anyone -- except Elaine Stritch:  She had a great pair of gams for a woman half her age, an energy that could flood a stadium and charisma that hypnotized everyone who happened to just catch a glance at the 77 year old powerhouse.

She was a legend who always acted like one of the ensemble regardless of where her name was billed -- perhaps some of this was out of fear or lack of confidence or an inner-awareness that she wasn't as pretty as everyone else, she couldn't sing as beautiful or technical as everyone else and life just wasn't handed to her as easily as it appeared to be to every one else. But there was one thing that she was better at than any of her contemporaries -- being Elaine Stritch.  And every character she played, every role she ever performed, you always felt like you saw a part of Elaine Stritch -- I don't mean that she couldn't embody a character and her acting was always the same "Jennifer Aniston in Every Movie" acting style -- but that she brought such an honesty to every role that you felt like you were gaining some insight into the character and the character that was playing her.

I want to say that "At Liberty" had no set or props -- I think I'm correct in saying that ...it was Elaine Stricth standing in front of you on the stage -- the place she called home...and when she would move onto a new topic she would pivot and clap toward the back of the backstage -- that's all and you were then transported to a very different place than she had just presented to y ou.

An admitted alcoholic (who still drank one martini every day  -- no more/no less -- at 3 p.m. until she died), one of the most shocking unveilings by Stritch was when she went to an audition with three (maybe 4) martinis under her belt.  She immediately decided she hated the head writer or creator of the show "I could barely see what they looked like."  Playing scene after scene for this audition which was to be the TV Pilot of a new half hour comedy show, she changed almost every line word by word just to spite the head writer/creator under the pretense of being a free spirit/improv-trained actress. Despite being a shoe-in for one of the four ground-breaking roles prior to the audition, Stritch was passed over and Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty would become some of the richest and  most popular super stars in the history of television -- at an age where your choices of roles were usually either the sassy grandma or the crotchety grandma.

Ten years after "At Liberty" Tina Fey cast Stritch as Alec Baldwin's horrendous and hysterical one-line-zinger-throwing mother on "30 Rock" and she stole scene after scene -- even picking up a well-deserved Emmy award along the way!

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Stritch at a fundraiser a couple of years ago...she seemed distracted and a little  confused about what all was going on, which broke my heart to see. I wanted to meet that feisty, fiery character I had been reading about--  the one who could act out a song til you broke down in hysterics and the one who, if you were paying close enough attention, would have been able to give you some insights into who she was or what she was doing -- a quick wink that said, "Keep up, kid, I'm the puppet master on this stage regardless of what any of it might look like."

And right as I got out of my own head and looked back at this feeble, brittle woman whose capacities were being diminished merely by the facts of life, something caught my eye and I looked right into those eyes that seemed more filmy than before but more buoyant as well. "Keep up kid..."

And before I knew it, I was laughing out loud, soaking in this over the top yet subdued performance by someone who had spent way too much time at boring industry events and fundraisers that simply funded the egos of dimwits. I looked right through her and what I hope she heard me saying was that she quite possibly was the coolest damn Broadway legend I would ever have the honor of almost being punked by again.

Stritchy, thanks for showing us how to handle life when it gets really hard especially at our own hand.  Cheers, and here's to the ladies who lunch... aren't they a gas?!"

With respect and admiration,
Ron

June 25, 2014

June 25, 2008, I opened the doors to Enfluence Group with my first client Live Earth/Live Earth India with VP Al Gore and Kevin Wall...what a trip it's been!!

 Our 5-Year Anniversary Commemorative Prints





June 20, 2014

IF YOU WERE WONDERING HOW BIG SOCCER IS TO THE REST OF THE WORLD OUTSIDE OF THE U.S., THIS MAY HELP PROVIDE SOME (SHOCKING) PERSPECTIVE!!

(From "The Wrap" June 20, 2014)

141 million users have generated 459 million interactions
In just one week, more users have discussed the World Cup on Facebook than the number of people who talked about this year's Super BowlOscars and Sochi Games combined. It's already a record for a single event on the social media giant, and it still has three more weeks of matches to come.

Of course, the Super Bowl and Academy Awards cover just a few hours, while the Sochi Games is a weeks-long competition.

Thus far, the World Cup has scored 274 million more viewers than the most recent Super Bowl, 339 million more than the Olympics and bested the Oscars by 434 million. Here's the full breakdown comparing the soccer tournament to other major 2014 events:
World Cup Week 1 (June 12 – June 18): 141 million Facebook users generation 459 million interactions (Posts, Comments and Likes)
Super Bowl XVIII on Feb. 2: 50 million users generated 185 million interactions
Sochi Games, Feb. 6-23: 45 million users generated 120 million interactions
86th Academy Awards on Mar. 2: 11.3 million users generated 25.4 million interactions

Facebook's data team also looked at where people around the world are having their conversations. The following list is based on the number of people talking about the World Cup so far, weighted for the size of the Facebook population in each country (meaning the number of daily active people):
1. Brazil
2. United States
3. United Kingdom
4. Indonesia
5. Mexico