Striking the right notes


by ASJAD NAZIR

HARSHDEEP KAUR ON HER MUSIC JOURNEY, SUFI INFLUENCES AND LIVE PERFORMANCES

INDIAN singing sensation Harsh­deep Kaur is at her best when she is performing in front of a live au­dience and that is why her con­certs around the world receive universal acclaim.  

The Sufi and Bollywood singing star has used the power of her voice to become the first female to win two talent contests on Indian TV and make a mark in commercial cinema with chart-busting hits.  

Harshdeep will deliver Bollywood hits like Katiya Karun from Rockstar, Heer from Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Kabira from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani as well as Sufi classics at her hotly anticipated shows in London and Birmingham next month.  

Eastern Eye caught up with Harshdeep to talk about music, her forthcoming concerts, inspira­tions, future hopes and more.  

How do you look back on your amazing journey in music?  

My musical journey has been really beautiful. It was my childhood dream to become a playback singer and today I’m blessed to be a part of the Bollywood music industry. It feels great when your dedication and hard work is recognised.  

How much of a part has performing live played in your evolution as an artist?  

Singing on stage gives you a lot of confidence. There are no retakes in live singing, so you have to give your best. Live performances also give you an opportunity to connect with your audience.  

Do you remember your first live performance in front of a big audience?  

I was about seven or eight years old when I sang in Delhi at a music concert with Udit Narayan. He and the audience were blown away after hearing a little girl sing Pardesi Pardesi with so much con­fidence. That moment was really priceless for me and my parents.  

You have become a world-class live performer and delivered many marvellous shows, but what has been the most memorable?  

I have had a lot of memorable concerts around the world, but my show at the Manchester Inter­national Festival last year was very special. Sanam Marvi from Pakistan was supposed to join me at the concert, but due to some visa issues she and her band couldn’t make it. Despite all this, I had a sold-out show where my band and I ended up performing for three hours. The concert con­cluded with a standing ovation for us.  

How much are you looking forward to re­turning to the UK again?  

The audience in the UK is very musical and enjoy watching live concerts. They love both Punjabi and Bollywood music. There’s a great diversity in this country and I can’t wait to per­form there again.  

What can we expect from your shows?  

I try to connect with my audience. I try to make sure that the audience gets to listen to quality music. I want each and every person to have a big smile on their face throughout the concert.  

Is there one song you enjoy performing most?  

I perform an unplugged medley in my concert where I get the audience to sing along with me. That’s my favourite part of the concert.  

What do you believe is the secret of a great live performance?  

It should be honest in every sense. People spend their hard-earned money to listen to their favourite artist. The artist should respect that and make sure their fans enjoy the concert to the core.  

You have a very striking look on stage. What inspired it?  

In 2008, I took part in a reality TV show called Junoon where I experimented with my look by wearing a turban with my out­fits. That style complemented my music too and gradually it became a part of my identity.  

Many people love watching you perform live, but what has been the most memorable con­cert you watched as a music fan?  

I have always been a Jagjit Singh fan. I remem­ber attending his concert with my family. I was in total awe of his voice. This concert became even more memorable when Jagjitji called me on stage and made me sing Lambi Judai with him. It was such an incredible moment to share a stage with the legend.  

Where do you get that immense power in your voice from?  

(Smiles) I think it’s God’s blessing.  

Do any songs affect you emotionally?  

Jagjit Singhji’s ghazals have a very emotional impact on me. His voice is so pure that some­times it makes me cry.  

What kind of music dominates your own personal play list?  

I prefer listening to soothing music. In these times of stress, you need music that can relax your mind and soul.  

What are your passions away from music?  

(Smiles) I have recently discovered that I really enjoy cooking. Apart from that, I love to travel and enjoy exploring new places.  

If you could master or learn something new, what would it be?  

I would love to learn how to produce music, create new sounds and songs. I also want to learn how to play the guitar.  

If you had a chance to ask any singer alive or dead a question, who would it be and what would you ask?  

I wish I could have met Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab. I would have asked him how is he so amazing and how did he compose such beautiful compositions? I would have also asked him to teach music to me.  

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?  

To always sing from your heart, no matter what.  

What can we expect next from you?  

I recently released two singles on my YouTube channel and I’m working on more independent music. I have sung the title track of an upcoming Bol­lywood movie called Hichki featuring Ranj Mukerji. I’ll al­so be touring in North Ameri­ca with music director Pritam.  

What is your greatest unfulfilled ambition?  

My wish is to collaborate with my favourite singer Celine Dion.  

What inspires you?  

The fact that there is only one life and you need to do all you want to in this one life only. So make the most of it and keep working hard to fulfill your dreams.  

Why should we come to your UK concerts?  

(Laughs) Because if you don’t, you will be missing an evening of pure and soulful music. I plan to take the audience on a beautiful musi­cal journey with my amazing band. I’ll be sing­ing my songs and some very popular numbers too. We promise that these concerts will always be cherished by the audience.  

Finally, why do you love music?  

It is something that I cannot explain in words. I believe that music is like oxygen to me. Music helps me connect to the Almighty.  

  • Asian Arts Agency presents Harshdeep Kaur in concert at the Barbican Centre, London on March 27 and Town Hall, Birmingham on March 28. Visit www.asianartsagency.co.uk for more.