Interview with Gopal Niroula, Burlington, Vermont

Gopal Niroula is a multi-instrumentalist and singer based in Burlington, Vermont. Born in Bhutan, Niroula was raised in a refugee camp in Nepal before resettling in Burlington. Niroula plays traditional Nepali music, along with other Nepali music genres. He is a multi-instrumentalist and singer, with a specialty in flute, and a particular expertise in the nose flute. In Vermont, he plays with his brother, tabla musician Puru Niroula. Alongside other members, they play in 3rd STEPS, a group they co-founded which gathers bi-weekly for two hours to sing bhajan, or Hindu devotional songs, in Nepali. The name 3rd STEPS refers to the members’ links to three countries: Bhutan where they were born, Nepal where Bhutanese nationals of ethnic Nepali descent fled after stripped of their Bhutanese citizenships in the 1990s, and the U.S. During COVID-19, Niroula produced and performed in a weekly livestream show that attracted many well-known musicians from Nepal, including a winner of the Nepali Idol contest.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/16/2020.