By: ASJAD NAZIR
CARDIFF-BASED singer Atreyee has made a name for herself on the UK live circuit and delivered unforgettable performances powered by her impressive voice.
She will next headline the Awaaz Hi Pehchaan concert taking place on June 11 in Penarth. The Arts Council of Wales-backed tribute to Lata Mangeshkar sees her team up with brilliant British band 515 Crew and acclaimed singer Chirag Rao. This adds to her impressive journey, which sees her balance singing with working as a coordinator for a multidisciplinary care team for treatment of cancers in the University Hospital of Wales.
Eastern Eye caught up with the naturally gifted talent to discuss music and her forthcoming show.
What first connected you to music?
My earliest recollection of music is my grandfather teaching me how to play the harmonium when I was five. I was privileged to learn Hindustani classical music from Vidushi Mandira Lahiri for nearly 20 years. She introduced me to the immense richness of classical music. That training has been the backbone of my musical journey, irrespective of the genre I sing.
Who have been your great influences?
Without naming each one, many of the Hindustani classical legends touch my heart. From Bollywood, the first name that always comes to mind is Lataji. I would guess that out of every 10 Hindi songs I have sung, seven are hers. Besides her, Kishoreda (Kumar), Ashaji (Bhosle), (Mohammed) Rafi Saab, Jagjit Singhji and Panchamda (RD Burman).
What has been your most memorable musical moment?
It was when I sang a duet with National Award-winning singer Rupankar Bagchi from Kolkata during the 2016 Harrow Musical Festival competition in London. We had only jammed the song for less than 15 minutes backstage. I went on to win the competition by audience vote and was conferred the honour of ‘Golden Voice’. I cannot ever forget that.
How much does live performance mean to you and what has been the most memorable?
Everything, in one word, when it comes to my music. I have a full-time professional job and family, so music is not my profession, and I can’t do a concert every month. So, when I do one, I strive to give it my absolute best. My 2019 concert Soulful in the concert hall of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama was the most memorable. For me to be invited where western classical music legends have performed, and the BBC Proms take place, was amazing.
Tell us about your forthcoming show?
Lataji’s passing was the end of an era and deeply upsetting for me just like it was for everyone. We are all fortunate to have lived at a time when she did. The concert is my most humble shraddhanjali to my greatest inspiration. I will try to sing her songs as true to the original as possible with utmost honesty to celebrate her music.
Who are you hoping this musical show connects with?
The diaspora from the Indian subcontinent in South Wales and beyond, particularly the younger generation and those who don’t necessarily understand Hindi. Many of my Welsh friends are excited to attend it.
What kind of songs do you enjoy performing most?
I enjoy performing evergreen melodies in Hindi and Bengali, songs of Rabindranath Tagore and ghazals.
Do you ever get nervous before going on stage?
Every time! More so, when I am singing classics as I worry if I can do them justice. Also, I always sing from memory without lyrics. Every time I stress about forgetting lyrics. Touchwood, it has never happened, and I pray it never does.
Which concert have you most enjoyed as an audience?
Once I was fortunate to see Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty live in Kolkata many years ago. There were no frills, moving lights or LED walls, but the music – I can feel myself sitting there anytime. Recently, I enjoyed Shreya Ghoshal’s concert in Birmingham.
What inspires you?
The happiness and enjoyment I can bring to my audience; there is nothing more fulfilling than that for a singer.
Why should we come to the Awaaz Hi Pehchaan concert?
I am not a famous celebrity singer. What I can say is please give me an opportunity to sing for you. It will be my honour and I will do my absolute best to make it an enjoyable concert remembering the nightingale.
Awaaz Hi Pehchaan concert takes place at St. Cyres School Auditorium, Sully Road, Penarth CF64 2XP. Visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/atreyee