Born in London, raised in Australia and now settled in renowned singer Susheela Raman is an artist who has staunchly charted her own musical path. Always exploring and experimenting with sounds, from diverse musical genres like, Baul folk to Sufi to Gamelan and especially the Indian devotional and Carnatic music of her Tamil roots, Susheela has gone where the music took her.
She started her musical journey in Sydney with her own band, playing popular rock-pop songs, before venturing into blues and jazz. By then she was experiencing the limitations of pop-rock and travelled to India to learn from India’s rich musical heritage.
Her critically acclaimed debut album Salt Rain was nominated for the Mercury Prize, becoming the first World Music artist to receive that honour. She also received the Best Newcomer Award from BBC Radio 3. Susheela has since released five more albums and in 2006 she again received a nomination for the BBC World Music Awards. Currently she is working on her seventh album, Ghost Gamelan, featuring Gamelan artists from Indonesia, which is set to be released in January 2018.
With a head full of frizzy hair, her intense stage presence and exuberant yet soulful singing style, Susheela Raman has received accolades from audiences around the world, confirming her reputation as among the foremost world music artists in the world.
Here RagatoRock speaks to Susheela Raman about her musical jouney and her perspective as a female musician in the world of music:
What do you think of this years Paddy Fields being dedicated to women?
It's a great idea, especially if it reminds people that no two female artists are alike and women don't need to be patronised.
What are your views on Women empowerment?
Culture change towards female equality is good thing. Many men are scared of women and feel and need the control or belittle them ignored to reassure themselves. Women's empowerment will help such men to be free from that conditioning and fear and enjoy being with women as equals and fellow humans. Its also good at omen can participate fully in public life on the basis of merit. It makes for a more fair and balanced environment. .
What is your repertoire about or what can we expect at the Paddy Fields on the theme of women?
I am there to play music, be myself. I am not singing slogans from stage. By playing and being confident and free onstage i think it sends a positive signal that women can and should express themselves without fear.
What would you like see a change in Women Rights?
I want women and girls to have equal rights and opportunites at work, in public and at home. I want women to feel safe whoever they are. The culture that says men have right to censure women for failing to conform to arbitrary, absurd and historically backward values is morally bankrupt.
Name some songs that you like are Women Enpowering or Women oriented ?
How about RESPECT by Aretha Franklin.
You are a multi-lingual Singer, but you haven't done any original music album in English ? Any particular reason.
I have performed and written many songs in English but my albums tend to have a mix of languages.
In fact my next album 'Ghost Gamelan' is all in English.
Tell us about your forthcoming album Ghost Gamelan releasing in 2018?
Its a record i am very excited to have made with incredible musicians from Indonesia. The songs are in English and therea re some intoning vocal arrangements. The record has a really unique sound and am looking forward to sharing with everyone in 2018.
How did you manage that since your 2014 album "Queen Between" was supported by your fans ?
I signed a reocrd contract with a French record company called Naive which is owned by Believe Digital and can distribute music worldwide.
As an artiste what title would you give yourself? Queen of World Music ?
No i would NEVER say that! it doesn't mea anything. And Kings and Queens belong in the dustbin of history along with fake religious leaders!
-Stanley Paul Memury and Pradeep Joseph
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.