My journey as a singer and how it’s currently stagnant.
My father’s sister moved to the US a really long time ago. I think I was 2 or 3 years old when she did. I’m told I was her pet and we have many photos to prove it. We grew up in an age where video chats and text messages were a distant thought of the future. To make things interesting and save on ISD calls, my dad would record our voices on cassettes and mail them to her. It could have been my mother’s idea, but I remember my dad being the radio jockey of the 90-minute show. We would sing nursery rhymes, recite what we learned at school, who our friends were. Basically, an update on our lives that she could play over and over again if she ever got homesick.
I don’t think I was always a singer. My earliest memory of singing was on these cassettes. When I learned how to operate the tape recorder, I experimented with it. My mother had a Lata Mangeshkar cassette whose top two tabs had not been pushed in. For the millennials reading this post, once you pushed those tabs in and broke them, the cassette lost its ability to be recorded on. It was her then favorite. I can’t remember clearly, but I think the song she was obsessed with on that cassette was ‘Yaara sili sili’. I was by myself one day and decided to sing a cheesy hindi song over that song. The day my mother found out that I had recorded ‘Baazigar oh Baazigar’ over her precious ‘Yaara sili sili’, she was not happy. But that’s where my journey began.
In grade 7, we were visiting a national park and spent a lot of time traveling in the bus. After the initial excitement of being on this trip and singing songs and cracking jokes and teasing each other with their crushes, we would each resort to our ‘walkman’ for me-time. I remember zoning out while listening to Boyzone’s ‘All that I need’ and without being aware of what I was doing, I was singing out loud. The rest of the children in the bus went silent to figure out where the singing was coming from and when they found out, they burst out laughing. I remember being made fun of. This is not a sob story. I can completely understand why they found this funny. I was a girl singing in the style of Ronan Keating. In his scale. It’s a little unconventional.
I haven’t been classically trained. I’ve tried to learn a few times in the last 5 years but failed because of my lack of patience. I face the exact same issue with my personal practice in yoga now. Dealing with Captain America’s ‘American-ness’ at times has increased my threshold but I still have a long way to go. A producer I work with says that ‘on the job’ is the best kind of training, but my ‘woulda shoulda coulda’ is that I wish I had started to train when I didn’t know what practice was all about.
I’ve been singing professionally for the last eight years. A little more in the first five and a lot less in the last three. It’s not that I’ve lost interest, I’m just occupied with other things. #worstexcuseever. And getting over bad experiences. #truestory. Up until very recently, if anyone asked when I was coming out with an album, I would confidently reply saying ‘within the next three months’ and that I am working on it. The truth is, I’ve worked on a total of 4 songs. That's a lot of years and very few songs. It almost felt like I was crying wolf. I’ve stopped answering that question. Will I ever release something of my own? Maybe. Will it be in the next three months? Probably not. But I’m hopeful.
Yesterday, I listened to a number of covers of Michael Jackson’s ‘Who’s loving you’ and it made me feel good. Maybe we can start by practicing a cover. Just to get the ball rolling. Maybe my band will read this and agree that we probably do need to meet and practice and even if nothing comes out of it, we would have at least tried. Maybe they won’t. But I’m hopeful.