Sensitive and Timely: Sushma Soma’s ‘Home’
India-West Staff Reporter
LOS ANGELES, CA – ‘Home,’ a new musical album releasing on Apr. 8, is Carnatic vocalist Sushma Soma’s reflection on her relationship with nature and the environment.
It is a trenchant expression of the artist’s thoughts into vocals about the relationship between man, nature, animals, environment through an Indian classical inspired soundscape. The artist says it was born out of her struggle, “ to reconcile my love for the natural world with my everyday choices starting from the careless consumption of single use plastic and to blatant wastage of resources.”
Suma, now 34, who started her Carnatic music training at the age of 4, says her new work, “has also been an important journey for me with Carnatic music as I have engaged with the form without letting my preconceived biases about the form – that it is niche and appeals to only a specific audience – influence my musical choices for the album.”
The musical collection is of 6 tracks, some of which are inspired from film documentaries.
‘Nature’ is a musical exploration, inspired by the Oscar-winning documentary, ‘My Octopus Teacher’ and uses the Carnatic raga Hamsadhwani and improvisational elements like Virutham and Tanam. ‘Man’ explores the casual and whimsical attitudes of man towards nature. The song uses ‘nottusvaram’ – sounds from our everyday lives that impact our environmental landscapes put together with a playful melody by the master Muthuswamy Dikshitar. The original song references the vices of humans – greed, anger, delusion and arrogance but Soma suggests that it is not just violence that ruins our environment, but our apathy, in our everyday choices.
‘Ma Dhara,’ tracks the journey of earth from compassion to frustration. Soma pushes the endurance of her vocal command to depict the stages of emotions that reach that peek of rage. The ragas used are Shankarabharanam, Bhairavi and Varali. Another composition, ‘The Elephant’s funeral,’ was motivated by the death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala, India, after she fed on a pineapple stuffed with explosives in it. And people kind of celebrating the event. The lyrics are from a song in the Carnatic repertoire titled ‘Endraiki Siva Krupai’ by composer Neelakanta Sivan, in raga Mukhari.
The song, ‘Ivory Game’ was conceptualized after watching the documentary of the same name, that examined the illegal ivory trade that was causing unprecedented poaching levels and gruesome deaths of the elephants in Africa.
The song ‘Grief” is a melody re-tuned by her in raag Preetu. As the song title suggests, this song is an expression of grief and shame. The rough translation is: ‘How can I stand before you in my soiled body?’
The sensitive album, which Soma hopes can play a small part in reminding us to save the only home we know – mother earth – is promoted by Global Music Worldisc.