Soul train

Updated: Aug 15, 2019, 09:39 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi

Attend a performance where veterans as well as kids as young as nine will revisit the heydays of Motown and soul

Soul train
Lionel Richie

What happens when you listen to a song? If it's an unknown tune, but catches your attention, you tap your feet, slowly familairising yourself with the beats. If it's a known tune, or a long-time favourite, you tend to groove to the rhythm, singing softly at first and perhaps shouting at the top of your voice when the chorus begins. The chorus always lingers, like the touch of your first lover. And then what?

Where do these songs come from? Why did the people who sing them compose it? What were the thoughts that they were trying to convey through music and lyrics? We hardly ever ponder on these points. Mumbai-based vocalist Samantha Noella echoes this when she says, "Most people come just to hear the music, but not everyone gets the chance to know what that music is or where it came from. And as music educators, it is our job to share that knowledge."

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin

Memories of Motown and Soul is a performance scheduled for next weekend at the NCPA that brings together veteran artists like Noella, The Crooked Tailbones and Faustin Missier, along with Saunak Saha, Keith Donald and Glyston Gracias — as well as kids as young as nine and 14 years of age, respectively, like Tyler Edwards (Noella's son) and Eshaan Shaikh — that hopes to change that.

A tribute gig that will deep-dive into the music that became popular at the turn of the 20th century at the behest of legends like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5, this show will differ from other tribute performances in that it will be educational, too.

Sounak Saha

"We have tried to break down the performance a little bit. In most shows, music history is not covered, so in between each song we'll take a few minutes to help listeners look at these songs in a different light. So, we have songs like Dancing in the Street, but we also have ABC by the Jackson 5, which talks about education," Noella explains, adding that she will be sharing more trivia through the course of the show.

Originating chiefly from the blues, which stemmed from the songs of lamentation composed and sung by indigenous Africans who became victims of the American slave trade and were thus displaced, genres like soul and Motown are deeply rooted in history. In the later years African-American musicians rose to prominence as these songs became popular because of their catchy tunes.

Samantha Noella
Samantha Noella

Noella says that unlike most of the music that is emerging out of the industry worldwide today, these genres were woven with stories of struggle and therefore were clever, meaningful and symbolical. "That's why we wanted to put together this show, though I am certain it's also going to be a fun night," she signs off.

At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Time: August 24, 7 pm onwards
Log on to: bookmyshow. com
Cost: Rs 500 onwards

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