Korla Pandit believed he had it all. A beautiful home, white wife, two children, and a successful career. However, Pandit had a deep dark secret which he was keeping from everyone.
Pandit was known as the pianist “Godfather of Exotica.” Also with his style and flair for clothing, he was considered the ‘Indian Liberace’ of his time. During the 1950s, he had his own show, “Korla Pandit’s Adventures in Music.” On television, he appeared wearing bedazzling jewelry, a silk jacket, and turban. His appearance caught the eye of people of all races and ages.
Unknown to everyone during Pandit’s time, the ‘Indian Liberace’ was putting on one of the greatest performances of his life. One that would not be discovered until after his death, 10/2/1998
Legend has it, Korla was born in New Delhi, India. He was a child prodigy born to a father who was a Brahmin priest and French opera singer mother. He arrived in the United States to receive training at the University of Chicago after spending time in England.
In actuality, Redd was born a light-skinned black man from St. Louis, Missouri. He was one of seven children born to a father who was a Baptist minister, and mother who was of Creole ancestry. However, his musical capabilities were all true, he was indeed a muscial child prodigy. At another time in Redd’s life, he played Latin tunes under the name “Juan Rolando,” which during this time he passed as being Mexican.
Korla’s career calmed in the 1960s, he began playing at supermarkets and pizza palaces, teaching piano, and speaking as a spiritualist. Redd died on October 2, 1998.
How a Black Man From Missouri Transformed Himself Into the Indian Liberace
|Birth name||John Roland Redd|
|Also known as||Juan Rolando|
|Born||September 16, 1921|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Died||October 2, 1998 (aged 77)[a]|
|Instruments||Piano and organ|
Korla Pandit (September 16, 1921 – October 2, 1998),[a] born John Roland Redd, was an American musician, composer, pianist, and organist. After moving to California in the late 1940s and getting involved in show business, Redd became known as “Korla Pandit”, a French-Indian musician from New Delhi, India. However, Redd was actually a light-skinned African-American man from Missouri who passed as Indian. A pathbreaking musical performer in the early days of television, Redd is known for Korla Pandit’s Adventures In Music; the show was the first all-music program on television. He also performed live and on radio and made various film appearances, becoming known as the “Godfather of Exotica“. Redd maintained the Korla Pandit persona—both in public and in private—until the end of his life.