The Gipsy Kings Family returning to Rajasthan

Ask the founder of the Gipsy Kings, Nicholas Reyes where he comes from and you are likely to get two answers.

The Gipsy Kings and their music are from the South of France. No, they are not Spanish, so you may be regaled with campfire stories of what the world renowned band did in their 'hometowns' of Arles and Montpellier before their music set the world on fire with hits such as Bamboleo, Volare and Habla Me.

An Indian microbiologist recently provided the science to confirm what Nicholas and his clan have always known – the gypsies come from Rajasthan. DNA from Rajasthani tribes matches the DNA of the European gypsies.


The timing of this scientific breakthrough is perfect for the exceptionally talented son of Nicholas George Reyes and his flamboyant former Gipsy Kings drummer/partner Ced Leonardi.

They have joined forces with the next generation of Reyes, guitar virtuoso Mario, to form the Gypsy Allstars for an emotional musical homecoming of the gypsies to their ancestral home in Rajasthan.

Return to Rajasthan, a documentary for the Discovery Channel, culminates at the Rajasthan International Folk Festival under the October full moon Meharangarh Fort, Jodhpur.

Sir Mick Jagger, who is intent on supporting music of the region, along with the Maharajah of Jodhpur, are the festival patrons.


"It is a most extraordinary timing that the DNA finally proved what gypsies have always known – it makes this project even more poignant," said Ced Leonardi.

"Having this opportunity to join forces with the Rajasthani musicians to see what happens when the sounds merge, we are certainly hoping to break new ground with the sound."

Sundance Grand Jury prize nominated director Dylan Mohan Gray, whose Irish name betrays his India heritage, will be directing the project making it an all-India homage. The Gypsy King himself Nicholas has been invited to join the pilgrimage as the head of the family.

Tipping its hat to the template created by the musical phenomenon Buena Vista Social Club, the documentary and music are exciting a lot of interest at the highest level.

One of Spain's gypsy superstars Antonio Carmona is also 'very excited' to be joining the Gypsy Allstars for Return to Rajasthan.

And in the collaborative spirit of "calling all gypsies", Ced recently had a hands up from songbird Ricky Lee Jones, who comes from Welsh Gipsy stock.

"There are many musical collaborations going on in the world for the fun of it. This is going to be fun for sure, but to have such a depth and soul to a project is a rare opportunity," said George Reyes.

"This is one of the most interesting music pilgrimages of our time and everyone involved knows it," added Ced. "We are looking forward to sharing this music with the world and to honoring the musicians of Rajasthan."

The Rajasthan International Folk Festival takes place October 17-21.

Follow the Gypsy Allstars as they prepare to Return to Rajasthan

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