India has conferred one of its highest civilian honor, the Karmaveer Puraskaar on Jazz maestro, Saskia Laroo of the Netherlands. 

The Karmaveer Puraskaar was awarded to Saskia under the ‘Global Artiste for Change’ category, for the year 2010-11.

The Karmaveer Puraskaar are described as the National Awards for Social Justice and Citizen Action instituted by the people sector with various partner organizations, citizens at large and media supporters. 

The awards are a part of the “Right every Wrong” movement and are given at a ceremony held in New Delhi on November 26, annually, the Indian Confederation of Non Government Organizations (iCONGO).

Born July 31, 1959 in Amsterdam, Saskia Laroo began on trumpet at age 8, never dreaming of becoming a professional musician. That all changed when Saskia, turned 18, after briefly majoring in mathematics at University of Amsterdam switched her focus to a career in music. She worked extensively in various groups from this point, at first mostly on upright bass, though eventually, on both bass and trumpet; the trumpet became her main  instrument. Saskia Laroo combines today's music by uncontrived romps into new styles, eagerly limned as "nu jazz" or "swingin' body-music"--a vivacious blend of hip-hop, jazz, salsa, funk reggae, and world, that many other artists dare not venture. Her artistry and her groove ring vibrantly and free on her five albums journeying us through the music she has absorbed and plays from heart and soul. Saskia, hailed by American public and press at large as "Lady Miles of Europe", is one of the few women trumpet stylists, blowing for more than three decades.

Warren Byrd and Saskia Laroo (Netherlands)

Warren Byrd is a Hartford native with an international touring schedule after many fruitful years playing Jazz throughout Connecticut, Southern New England, and New York.

Born in 1965 the youngest in a family of sixteen, he grew up in a musically fecund world. His experiences with performing began with singing in the church choir with his older siblings and lead to rich performing adventures in during his teen years, exposing him also to the vast treasures past and present of musical ideas.

By the time he’d been awarded a full scholarship for Classical Vocal Studies at Hartt College of Music, he’d decided he wanted to be a Jazz artist. Through the listening, absorbing, practicing, and synthesizing of legacies of not only Jazz, but also Classical, Folk, and Popular music past and present, he formulated his approach to improvisation and composition.

In the last, twenty years, he has contributed his musicianship to many groups and performers in Jazz, R&B, World, Latin, Pop, etc., as well as Dance and Theatre. A short list of performers would include Archie Shepp, Eddie Henderson, Frank Lacy, Saskia Laroo, Steve Davis, David Chevan, Mixashawn, Kenny Hamber, Alvin Carter, Nita Zarif, and many more.

In 2000, he released Truth Raised Twice, his only album as a leader with many of his own compositions as well as standards from the Jazz repertoire.

The last several years include many international tours and an album release with Saskia Laroo and two duo albums, four ensemble albums, and considerable press exposure with David Chevan and the Afro-Semitic Experience. He touts composition as the cornerstone of his development as an artist and the springboard of his career direction.