Goan fado singer Sonia Shirsat arrives Kuwait to entertain the Konkani Music lovers
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sonia Shirsat was all smiles, and recounting shocked faces and the incessantly rolling eyes she encountered when she started learning to perform the iconic moody, mournful singing style of Portugal. It’s a reaction the attractive 31-year-old Goan singer quickly became accustomed to each step of her journey as a professional fadista has required persuading accompanists and audiences to take her seriously in the first place. But first in Margao and Panjim, then in Macau and Lisbon, Sonia Shirsat steadily won over critics and the public alike. With the release of her first solo album, the excellent Saudades de Fado, Sonia Shirsat has demonstrated that she’s a fadista with global potential. Early reviews indicate that the young singer with an uncannily powerful voice just might become India’s first musical sensation in the Portuguese-speaking world.
Fado is a relatively new musical genre. It first appeared in the nineteenth century, built around soulful vocal laments and serenades, accompanied by one or two instrumentalists playing Portuguese or classical guitar. Historians often claim African slave antecedents for the fado, and there also seems to be an obvious Islamic influence derived from centuries of Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. But diverse origins notwithstanding, fado has become central to the Portuguese national identity. When Sonia Shirsat showed up to sing in Lisbon for the first time, she created consternation. Who was this Indian girl with the big smile? What was she doing here? Sonia Shirsat was born into the kind of mixed family that is increasingly becoming the norm in India’s smallest state. Her father is a Hindu doctor who met her Catholic mother while studying medicine in Goa’s capital city, Panjim. She grew up in rural Ponda, then studied commerce and law before taking up a job as lecturer in a law college. All along, she sang. started at home, singing along to the music we listened to in the family, matching my voice to Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton, she said. Outsized talent always apparent, Sonia Shirsat won every major singing competition in Goa while still in her teens, led a band to the semi-finals of the Saregamapa Challenge on Zee TV in 2000, and even won a trip to France that year for topping the national French Nightingale competition sponsored by Alliance Francaise. Then she found fado at a Portuguese guitar workshop organised in Panjim in 2003 by the Fundacao Oriente, an international NGO dedicated to preserving Latin cultural heritage in Asia, at Goa’s Kala Academy.
Sonia Shirsat noted that the fado is absolutely sacred in Portugal, a cherished symbol of national identity like the flag and the anthem. It took her months of singing every night in Lisbon, across two separate trips, to understand, to reach the deeper meanings and emotions beyond the lyrics and tune. In October 2008, she held her debut concert in Lisbon, entitled Mundo Fado, built around the idea that the fado is a global genre, with songs in Hindi and Konkani interspersed with original Portuguese. The night before, tickets sold out. Shirsat was in all the newspapers the next day, and all the television channels trooped in to interview her. I realised that it was a turning point in my life, she said with another broad smile. At that point in time, I really understood that I could do it, that I could make it in the world of fado, confessed the fadista from Ponda.
Arriving at Kuwait International Airport, in her signature smile, he beamed at the warm welcome by the organizers of Comedian Philip’s Konkani musical show “Ani, Anik Zaiem?”. I am pleased to be back in Kuwait, having been here some time back for Goan Cultural Centre’s premiere ‘Summer Queen’ event. Equally dedicated to singing in her mother tongue and Goa’s state language Konkani, she will thrill the audience with rendition in Konkani on Friday, 9th September 2011 at the American International School auditorium at Maidan Hawalli. “I humbly welcome you Sonia, welcome to the State of Kuwait, everyone is looking forward to see you on stage”, beamed the charismatic comedian-director, Philip Pereira, who has a titled bestowed on him as the first Goan NRI comedian of the Konkani stage. div>
Express your comment on this article