Sonam Kalra And The Feminine In Sufism
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – Invited in 2022 to join the US Grammy Recording Academy as a voting member, singer Sonam Kalra has been on a roll post Pandemic. As she gets to release several new tracks this year, Kalra says, “I have been performing a series of ‘Women in the Divine’ concerts which explores the feminine in Sufism. And there are lots of new ideas constantly brewing.”
The singer, part of the ongoing 12th Jashn-e-Adab Art, Culture and Literature Festival being held in the Capital has been trained in both Indian music and Western traditions of music like Gospel, Jazz, and Opera, and has performed in over 30 countries at festivals and venues around the world including the Sydney Opera House and the Pyramids of Gaza.
Her ‘process’ is to deep dive which usually starts with researching poetry. “It is always the lyrics for me first that move and inspire me – and then I figure how I want to interpret, structure, arrange, and compose it. I start focusing on it completely – even when I am not working on it, it is always in the back of my mind. Considering my diverse training, my music always tends to have influences of all diverse styles- sometimes subtle and sometimes more obvious. I like to create and then revisit the composition after a while to take a fresh look at it and add more layers and nuances,” she says.
Kalra, who will be will be singing a mix of poetry and kalams of both well and lesser-known poets who wrote in Urdu, Farsi, and Punjabi- ranging from Hazrat Zaheen Shah Taji to Baba Bulleh Shah during Jashn-e-Adab, says it is praiseworthy not just owing to its format and the fact that it honors Urdu literature and its richness, but also how accessible it is. “It gives many diverse voices a chance to share their art,” she says.
This former advertising professional says that the period of Pandemic induced lockdowns taught her several things. “The fact that music and creativity continue to flow – everything we go through makes us grow in ways we did not even know we were capable of… So, despite what felt like a pause in so many ways – I worked around that pause to keep moving,” she adds.
And when it comes to music platforms in India, she laments there are not enough in India, and feels an urgent need for more funding for festivals, both from the government and the corporate sector.
Someone who continues to be fascinated by live performances, Kalra feels the energy of the audience and the intimate relationship one can create with them –individually and collectively is possible only during a live performance.
“Music touches people deeply, and each person interprets it in his/her own peculiar way. Knowing how you can carry the audience through their own personal journey is equal parts spiritual and emotional for me,” says the singer who is finding time to get into the studio to finish unfinished tracks. “There are also some collaborations in the pipeline,” she concludes.