Johnny Kalsi was born and raised in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. As a youth, he became increasingly interested in music, although his parents had other aspirations for him! Johnny first learned to play the Tabla at his local Sikh Temple from maestro Gurmeet Singh Virdee and later, became intrigued by the Dhol drum.
He took to teaching himself the various beats of the Dhol and began to ‘redesign’ some of the traditional beats to suit his own style. Living in the United Kingdom forced his exposure to a wide range of genres and he soon developed a unique style that blended rhythms from both Eastern and Western idioms. In 1988, Johnny Kalsi joined the pioneering bhangra band Alaap and also Mela Group.
He founded The Dhol Foundation two years later and began teaching the drum on a shoe-string budget – in small halls and living rooms. As the demand grew, Johnny began to open classes all over the UK and eventually, the classes went global and spread over to Canada. At their peak, The Dhol Foundation had 350 students and delivered 8 classes in the UK and 2 in Canada.
At about the same time, he signed a publishing deal with Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. He lifted Bhangra to the next level and merged the traditional sounds of the Dhol with other influences. While working alongside Mr Gabriel himself, Johnny became the Ambassador for the WOMAD Festival.
Johnny’s music has featured on Film and TV scores including Tomorrow Never Dies, Rabbit Proof Fence, Last Temptation of Christ, Stigmata and CSI Series 3. The Dhol Foundation has played at numerous events including notably the Royal Variety Performance, at the Olympic Closing Ceremony, at the Queen’s Diamond Coronation Celebrations at Buckingham Palace and on Channel 4 for Stand up to Cancer with Alan Carr & Davina McCall.