When Sufi meets Gospel
Sonam Kalra hates cliches. A trained Opera and Hindustani singer, she wanted to express herself the best way she knew. What emerged was a fusion show of Sufi and Gospel music with a mixed faith band
A Sikh by religion, Sonam Kalra has frequently been asked why she chooses to sing Gospel. "No matter what the language of the lyrics, or the ethnicity of the sounds, there is but one language of faith. And that is the universal truth," she says.
Sonam Kalra with her band The Sufi Gospel Project
Next week, Kalra, along with Alex Fernandes on piano, Ahsan Ali Khan on sarangi, Rajesh Prasanna on the flute, Amaan Ali Khan on tabla and Daniel Paul on guitar will let audiences experience a multimedia show that will include verses from Paltu Das, Rumi and Rabia mixed with Gospel music.
This project is not about spreading a secular message, says the singer. She explains that it wasn't her plan to collaborate with musicians from different faiths to spread the message of unity in diversity.
"That was just a coincidence that we realised much later. I was just thrilled to work with this bunch of people and as classical musicians they were eager to work on The Sufi Gospel Project that was initiated about a year ago," offers Kalra.
According to Kalra, the idea for such a show came to her last year, when she was invited to sing Gospel music to commemorate the birth centenary of Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan at the Inayat Khan Dargah in New Delhi.
"I used to sing Gospel with a piano player, but I thought why not incorporate a sarangi. It fitted seamlessly. That's how it began and thereon my research led me to find many similarities between music and faiths," explains Kalra.
The project also has Kalra singing an Irish piece accompanied with an Indian bamboo flute, along with poems.
Last month, The Sufi Gospel Project opened The Bengaluru International Arts Festival and The Rajasthan International Folk Festival, Jodhpur. They have also performed at The India Show in Toronto.
Kalra's project has exposed international audiences to Sufi music because, as she claims, everyone finds a common ground in some part of the show.
"It's a new sound and quite unusual because we've blended traditional Indian instruments and sounds with age old Gospel hymns and Indian prayers. And the good part is that because of the many languages and musical influences we've combined, everyone is able to relate to it," she says.
Tickets for the show are for Rs 150 and Rs 250.
AT: 7.30 pm, Nov 13, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point