Multiple award winning singer and composer Sonam Kalra is that rare breed of musician who has been trained in both Indian and Western traditions of music and is equally adept at both. She has a beautiful, powerful voice with an honesty and sensitivity that is rare.
Sonam’s unique brainchild, ‘Sonam Kalra & The Sufi Gospel Project’ which blends the many voices of faith, through poetry, prayer and music to create one universal voice of faith, has earned her international critical acclaim.
Sonam has been recognised and appreciated for her extraordinary and all inclusive definition of Sufism and her message of Peace and Oneness has made her a popular voice at prestigious festivals and venues around the world. Sonam has shared the stage with legendary musicians like Sir Bob Geldof and Sufi Legend Abida Parveen. She has also performed for MTV Coke Studio and at the very Prestigious SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE where she received a standing ovation. Sonam has performed in over 28 countries across the world including London, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Pakistan, Oman, Dubai, Kuwait, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mauritius, Canada, Rome, South Africa and The USA.
She has also performed at the very prestigious Women in the World Summit organised by Media legend Tina Brown, One Billion Rising, The World Sufi Peace Festival at the Pyramids, The Jaipur Literature Festival, RIFF and The World Sufi Spirit Festival in Jodhpur, the International Faiz Festival for peace in Pakistan and at the The Indo African Summit for The Indian Prime Minister, President of India and 52 heads of African States.
She has been felicitated for her work in music with many awards including the Femina Woman of Worth award, the Indian express Devi award and the Global WIN award for inspiring women worldwide and has been invited to share her music and work on Secularism through Music at various TED talks and WIN conferences Globally.
The brainchild of singer and composer, Sonam Kalra, 'Sonam Kalra
& The Sufi Gospel Project' is an attempt to blend the many voices of faith, through the use of song, music and the spoken word. Traditional western gospels meld with Indian classical sounds, and Indian spiritual texts are enriched by elements of western poetry to create a sound that touches every soul. Revealing that no matter what the language of the lyrics, or the ethnicity of the sounds, there is but one language, the language of faith. And that is the universal truth.
“I first conceived this Project when I was asked to sing Gospel music to commemorate the birth centenary of the Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan at the Inayat Khan Dargah in Delhi. I had sung Gospel in churches and at other music venues but for the Urz of Inayat Khan, I wanted to create a sound that blended the faiths. I belong to the Sikh religion and am often asked why I sing Gospel. My answer is always the same; because God has no religion. I work with a keyboard player and guitarist who are Christian, my accompanists on the Sarangi and Tabla are Muslim, my flautist and percussionist are Hindus - a testament that when it comes to faith and music, religion is not relevant. The music emerged through a collaborative and organic process, combining our musical abilities and collective improvisation and feeding off our diverse beliefs.”
Khusrau blends with Amazing Grace, Kabir shares the stage with Abide with Me and Bulleh Shah’s voice is heard amidst English and Gaelic texts.
Accompanying Sonam on this project are Ahsan Ali, Rajesh Prasanna, Amaan Ali, Tarit Pal and Alex Fernandes.
Partition- Stories of separation is an exploration of what the partition meant, through music.
Many of the stories we have heard from our grandparents will be lost with the passing of the older generation and they need to be preserved, honoured and to serve as lessons for generations to come. I hope that in revisiting these stories through music, we are able to empathise, ponder and realize the way forward. Hopefully, a way of peace and co-existence based on a shared grief, a shared loss, a shared history and a shared love.
The words of the Punjabi poet, Daman have resounded in my mind from the first time I read them. In many ways, these lines have been my stimulus for putting this project together.
”Laali akhiyaan di dasdi hai
roye assi vi, roye tussi vi“
(The redness in our eyes shows
that you have cried and so have we)
Using the power of music, the voices of Manto, Ali Sardar Jafri, Daman, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Amrita Pritam, as well as personal accounts of ordinary people who lived through this terrible ordeal, my effort has been to weave together a retelling of this holocaust that tore our country apart, but to also look forward with hope and optimism.
It has been almost 70 years since the Partition and for many reasons, I now want to explore what the partition meant, through music. Many of the stories we have heard from our grandparents will be lost with the passing of the older generation and they need to be preserved, honoured and to serve as lessons for generations to come. I hope that in revisiting these stories through music, we are able to empathise, ponder and realize the way forward. Hopefully, a way of peace and co-existence based on a shared grief, a shared loss, a shared history and a shared love.
I have been researching the works of poets and writers from both sides for the past year and am composing the music for this performance based on their poetry and inspired by their stories. I have also been working with a contemporary poet with whom I have composed two of the pieces for this project.
In the future, I hope to travel with this performance piece and present it in other parts of India as well as at festivals and venues internationally. This message of starting a ‘dialogue’ will be carried forward on social media as well and I hope it enables a channel of communication where we can reach out to each other as people, neighbours and children of the same land.