King Gurcharan Mall is legendary among those familiar with Bhangra music, a multi-talented individual who is not only an expert Dholi, but a Bhangra dance teacher, producer and writer. Known as the King of Dhol, he has brought this music into the limelight of Western culture, with his outgoing and bubbly personality touching people just as much as the sound of his drumming.
King Gurcharan Mall has had a long and successful career as a Dholi, and recently received a new accolade when Kanshi Radio honoured him with their Lifetime Achievement Award, commending him for his lengthy contribution to the community and Punjabi arts. Mall’s group the Dhol Blasters have performed at the radio station’s annual dinner and dance for the past three years; usually each performer or band is given an appreciation award, but this time he was presented with the fantastic tribute.
He described it as a “big, big, honour”, adding that he was “thrilled to receive it”. He expressed his gratitude that after many years of struggle and hardship, his efforts have paid off and are being recognised. It was the first time such an award has been given, showing the importance of Mr Mall’s work, as it was solely created to congratulate him for his accomplishments through the years, both musically and in terms of what he does for charity and the community. The award was presented by Councillor Elias Mattu on 16th November 2013 and hailed Mall as the ‘most loved, respected and cherished of the world’s legendary Dhol players’. It is a well-deserved recognition for a man who has Dhol music on a global platform and taught Dhol and Bhangra dance within his local community.
Mall was also honoured when he and the Dhol Blasters were asked to perform at a tribute concert for Nelson Mandela, following the iconic and awe-inspiring man’s death in December. Mall saw it as a privilege to acknowledge the passing of a “fantastic gentleman who raised his voice for a community that had no voice”. Over forty artists and bands performed the ceremony, which was held at The Drum in Birmingham, and Mall found it remarkable and humbling that they were the only Asian performers, showing an incredible appreciation of their music from other ethic groups. They performed a song that had been written especially for Mandela by one of the Dhol Blasters, and Mall called it a “wonderful” experience to join in remembering the great man.