Hemina Shah is using music to connect cultures and countries


RIGHT TRACK: Hemina Shah
RIGHT TRACK: Hemina Shah

HOW SINGER RECORDED AN INTERNATIONAL ALBUM FROM HOME

by ASJAD NAZIR

BRITISH talent Hemina Shah may have moved to Singapore in 2017 due to her husband’s work, but she has very much remained connected to music and did something quite extraordinary during lockdown.

The naturally gifted singer remotely teamed up with musicians from around the world and recorded an album of Bollywood songs injected with diverse global influences.

Her six-track Bollywood Lockdown Mix album shows music really doesn’t have any boundaries and is a shining light during these dark times.

Eastern Eye caught up with Hemina Shah to talk about her new album, life in lockdown, settling in a new country and balancing family life with music.

What is the secret of settling down in a new country?
We’ve moved to a few different countries in the past and it’s always exciting to look forward to new adventures. The quickest way to settle is by doing what the residents do, getting into a daily routine and engaging in several activities to connect with new people. It has helped us expand our horizons by meeting people of all cultures – life is never boring and we try to live life to the fullest.

What is it that you miss the most about the UK?
Family and friends, but thanks to technology everyone is just a video call away. I normally visit London once a year during the summer to catch up with friends and family. I do miss the food too, especially British Indian cuisine. However, one thing I will not miss for sure is the weather.

How have you remained connected to music?
Music is in itself an international phenomenon and the South Asian community is now spread out through the world, so Bollywood music is recognised everywhere. I have been performing around Asia at several private and public events since moving to Singapore, including running several live YouTube streaming broadcasts.

What led you towards your new lockdown album?
The lockdown provided me with the time to reflect and connect with my passion. Artists and musicians have been impacted harshly, with all our performances cancelled overnight. I wanted to unite with other musicians around the world who felt castaway on the same lockdown Covid-19 boat to create something different.

Tell us about the album?
The new album is called Bollywood Lockdown Mix. It consists of six Bollywood tunes in different musical styles, including reggae, jazz, classical, Irish, and lounge. It was created during the lockdown period; all the songs have been recorded, mixed and mastered from our homes.

How did you select whom to work with on the album?
I reached out to talented musicians around the world who had a completely different style of music to Bollywood to create something truly unique. I listened to their style and selected songs where we would complement each other. I worked with Jaime Hinckson from Miami, Carlos Barba from El-Paso, Texas, Igor Kratovic from Los Angeles, Nilesh Thakore from London and Hesam Kalateh from Iran. I also worked with Swedish Jam Factory (Thomas Bergstig and Isaac Middleton) from Los Angeles.

Bollywood Lockdown Mix

Who are you hoping connects with these lockdown songs?
I have always believed that music is one language; that it has no boundaries and has the power to move and unite people globally. Music transcends race, gender, culture and any differences.  My hope is for people to know that even during difficult times, there will always be a light shining at the end of the long tunnel.

Which of the songs would you says is closest to your heart?
It is hard to pick one, as I put my heart and soul into all of them, but Hai Apna Dil with the Swedish Jam Factory was a lot of fun to make. I love the tap dancing and Irish feel to the song, as this has never been done before.

How much has music helped you during lockdown?
Music has helped me keep sane during this challenging time, and forced me out of my comfort zone, to try something new. I connected with audiences around the world over several public and private live stream concerts, including helping a charity raise money for slums in Nairobi, Kenya. I also conducted many live streaming Hindu prayer ceremonies for families who had recently lost loved ones during this awful pandemic.

What kind of music dominates your play list?
Golden oldie Bollywood songs – all the Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar classics I grew up listening to and singing. Those classics will stand the test of time.

What is the musical master plan going forward?
There will be more unique pieces as time progresses, and I request you to subscribe and stay tuned for the updates. I cannot wait to share the new stuff with you all. It’s super exciting!

What is the secret between balancing family life and a career?
Getting the family involved in my music – it is teamwork. I’m blessed to have a supportive family who has always encouraged me to strive for the stars and do my best. They all get involved in my music projects, whether it is setting up for video shoots, creating my social media posts, or making sure the sound works perfectly. Our home got converted into a recording studio and an event stage during the lockdown period.

What inspires you?
Music moves me. When I am happy or sad, I find comfort in playing an instrument, listening to music or singing. I love being different and unique, and striving for something, always ensuring that the next project is even more challenging.

Why should we pick up Bollywood Lockdown Mix?
If you believe music is a universal language that brings people together and transcends time, cultures and hardships, you will like this unique Bollywood Lockdown Mix. It’s different, features some incredibly talented musicians with unique styles, and has excellent soothing and relaxing music.

Why do you love music?
Apart from the fact that the majority of people love music in their own way, music relaxes me, helps me focus, meditate, and to be one with myself. Music is in my soul from when I was born and will remain there.

Facebook: @HeminaSinger & Instagram: @hemina_shah