Ashrita D’Souza, who recently performed at the World Music Day celebrations in Hyderabad along with several of her young students, has travelled around the world seeking knowledge to perfect her singing voice.
Says Ashrita, “My childhood days were spent in New Delhi learning Hindustani classical music from my mother Mansi Arockiam. I came to Hyderabad in 1994 and continued my Hindustani vocal lessons from Lalita Kurulkar and Shinde sir. But I felt that my voice was not opening up well and started taking Carnatic music lessons from B. Vaidyanathan. In the meantime, my piano lessons continued under Stephen Koshy and Dr Naveen Elias.” She adds, “I decided to get enrolled into the K.M. Music Conservatory in Chennai founded by music director A.R. Rahman and learnt Western classical singing for about a year before I joined the faculty there and took to teaching music.” However, Ashrita admits that something was still missing from her voice. “Around this time, my father was posted in Sri Lanka and he identified a well known singing academy there. I went to Sri Lanka and took advanced lessons. It was there that I learnt that it was not important to throw a big voice but perform with a low one.”
Citing some examples, Ashrita says, “Miley Cyrus and Adele are world renowned singers who sing low but are popular and audible. Classical music consists of operas, oratorio, jazz, sonata, symphony, hip hop, sacred music and many other beautiful genres. I listen and get inspired by the music of Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Cecilia Bartoli. Everyone in the music community must work on bringing these in their original form before the audience.” She adds, “Singing is an emotion which connects our thoughts to the audience, so it is also very important to ensure that the lyrics are clearly sung.”
Ashrita says she likes to sing old Hindi film songs, especially the numbers of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. “It’s surprising that even though I shifted to Western vocals, my voice supports me well when I sing Hindi film songs. It is all due to the North Indian classical music training that I had in my childhood. A lot of ‘band culture’ has come to the city of Hyderabad. The music is evolving and fresh but one must keep in mind the values of classical music while embarking upon experimentation and new age music. Having travelled to many places, I find the people of Hyderabad to be very welcoming and would always like to settle here,” says Ashrita as she signs off....