Musician Sonam Kalra says that music to her is worship, ‘Ibaadat’ and it moves her from deep within.
Apart from being a versatile Singer and Composer, but also as an inspirational speaker and role model, expressing her learnings from her creative and spiritual journey through her music and her words. Sonam has had music in her soul since she was a child. The resonance of Sonam’s voice and music has touched people and hearts all over the world. Her engaging and deep connection with her art and its message translates into a distinctive sound which has earned her critical praise and multiple awards. It has taken her to prestigious stages, festivals, and venues across 30 countries including The Sydney Opera House and MTV’s Coke Studio.
Sonam is also a TED speaker and has been invited to share her message of inclusion at many conferences including Medil Legend Tina Brown’s ‘Women in The World’ summit, The Economic Times Women’s Forum and numerous WIN conferences worldwide.
Sonam has been felicitated with many awards, including the Femina ‘Woman of Worth’ Award, the Indian Express Devi Award, FICCI YFLO ‘Young Women Achiever’ award for her work in the field of music, and the Global WIN Award for inspiring women worldwide. True to her beliefs, Sonam as a singer, performer or motivational speaker uses her strong voice to speak out on a range of issues from child abuse, women’s rights and animal rights to helping raise money for cancer charities and education for children.
“I love beautiful poetry; I need to be moved by the beauty of the lyrics before I compose. They need to resonate to the core of my personal belief. When I compose it’s quite an immersive process and I tend to lose myself in the creative journey. I’m also a perfectionist so I like to go over things with a fine-toothed comb. The composition takes a while to develop and be constantly fine-tuned till it takes its final avatar. I am inspired by life around me, by my parents who were my greatest gurus, who taught me how to live. I’m inspired by love, by pain, by compassion, by sorrow, by the fortitude and generosity of the human spirit, by the beauty in nature, by the simplicity and purity of animals, by the joy and honesty of children. I am inspired by truth. I am inspired by the sound of music, from a note to a symphony, it overwhelms me and brings me to tears.”
For someone who can use music to help with the causes she likes to support, she is putting the gift of music to the right use. Because of the many languages and musical influences, she combined, she finds that most people are able to connect with the music and the message. That of true Sufism: an acceptance of all truths. Yours, mine, his, hers; everyone’s truth as equal. “I believe that I was given this voice for a reason. To change mindsets, to speed love, to speak out against injustice, to make a difference.”
“I’m always doing something related to music! Singing, researching poetry, creating, composing, and thinking about it obsessively! My songs are led by intuition and guided by intellect. I do a lot of research and if certain poetry inspires me or speaks to me I work on it. I trust my gut and my inner voice. And often a piece will develop over time as more depth is revealed to me in the text as I sing it or dwell upon it. Or sometimes I will hear a recording of a rehearsal and then add to it. When I’m not working I spend time with my 5 dogs and 3 babies. Or try and catch up with a friend. Unlike a corporate career, I think it’s almost next to impossible for a musician or an artist to create a work-life balance. For an artist, our work is our life, so there is never a moment that I’m not thinking of my art- it is all pervasive , all encompassing and completely enriches my life. When I’m not performing or working in the studio or at rehearsal, I’m singing with the children, or doing some art activity with them so art is in every part of our lives I also love travelling and fortunately I get to do so much of it with my music.”
She has performed at The World Sufi Peace Festival at the Pyramids, The Royal Opera House Cairo, Muzaffar Ali’s World Sufi Festival Jahan-e- Khusrau, The World Sufi Spirit Festival RIFF in Jodhpur, The International Faiz Festival for Peace in Pakistan and at The Indo-African Summit for the Indian Prime Minister, President of India and 52 heads of African states. In America she has shared my music at The India by the Bay festival, in South Africa at The Jazz by the Lake Festival and the Shared History festival, in the UK at the Nehru centre and in Singapore at the Esplanade.
Read the full story that first appeared in Global Indian here: