Dr. Rehanna Kheshgi is an ethnomusicologist whose current research focuses on community engagement through music with Somali diaspora communities in the US. Her project, “Somali Songs: Building Community through Sound,” which seeks to empower Somali youth and foster sharing of intergenerational knowledge through listening, performing, and building public resources on Somali songs has received support from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council. Kheshgi leads students in courses and research exploring music from around the world through a locally grounded approach centered on community building and social justice. Kheshgi’s research on gender, sexuality, and the body at the intersections of popular, folk, sacred music and dance performance in India has been supported by the American Institute of Indian Studies, the American Association for University Women, the Fulbright Program, and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. Her publications explore performances of gender and sexuality through Bihu, the springtime Assamese New Year's festival.

Dr. Kheshgi's most recent article, "Queering Bihu Festival Performance" was published in the Feminist Review (2023). Her article "Crowning the Bihu Queen: Engendering a Rural Sensibility through Reality Television" was published in Indian Theatre Journal (2022), and her article "Navigating Generational Frictions Through Bihu Festival Performance in Assam, India" was published in MUSICultures (2017). She also contributed a chapter on Ethnomusicology to The Routledge Companion to Northeast India (2022), her essay "Performing Assam in Urban Spaces: Bihu on the City Stage" was published in Sounding Cities: Auditory Transformations in Berlin, Chicago and Kolkata by LIT Verlag (2018), and her chapter "Performing Youthful Desires: Bihu Festival Music and Dance in Assam, India" will appear in the Oxford volume titled Music and Dance as Everyday South Asia (2023). She has presented at regional and national meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology, as well as the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Kheshgi is a graduate of Goshen College (Bachelor of Music), the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (Master of Music), and she earned her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2016. A vocalist trained in Western Art Music, Hindustani classical music, among other genres and traditions, Dr. Kheshgi employs musical performance as part of her research methodology and is a member of Sumunar Gamelan and Dance Ensemble in St. Paul, Minnesota.

News Coverage:

Misty Schwab. "Workshops Encourage Students to Dialogue through Dance." Faribault Daily News, May 19, 2021.

Performance videos:

Singing Assamese Folk Songs (Tokari Naam) with Roshmirekha Saikia at the US Consulate in Kolkata, India (2018)

Singing Assamese Folk Songs (Goalparia Lokogeet) with Roshmirekha Saikia at Panchakala Utsav organized by Panchasur at ITA Centre, Machkhowa, Guwahati, Assam, India (2017)

Singing Hindustani Classical Tarana in Rag Khamaj with Kathak dancer Ameera Nimjee and Bertie Kibreah on tabla, at the 2014 UChicago Convocation. 

Singing Assamese Folk Songs (Bihu) with Papon and Band during Bihu Tour (2015)