Friday, May 04, 2007

BLOG INTERVIEW - Sona Mohapatra

Meet Sona Mohapatra. The singer with the "ancient" voice who floored audiences with her debut album Sona.

Pop star, folk singer, classical musician - you just can't fit her into any one mould coz Sona's in a league of her own. She's been singing all her life, dabbled in ad jingles (if you try hard enough, you will recall which ones) and quit her job as a FMCG brand manager to immerse herself fully in the pursuit of her dream.

Sona told Toe Knee Unplugged her collaboration with Aussie band INXS (for Afterglow) won't be her last with international artists. Also in the pipeline is a hip-hop version of the chartbuster Aaja Ve.

Sona is strikingly different from other albums in the market. How has the response been?

The response has been great. I have people from all over the world writing in about how refreshing and original the material is. My band has been playing to live audiences who seem to know the lyrics by heart, especially Bolo Na, Sapne and Aaja Ve. Can be no bigger high.
For us (my team), the main objective was to create 'soul music', music that moves you. The biggest decision that we had to make on the creative front on this album was whether to stick to making a 'cohesive' album that showcased one aspect of me or to make a more 'diverse' album that highlights the inherent dichotomy that is me.
I'm moved to sing ancient words, learn histories and I'm told I have an ancient voice. But I'm also a young, urban woman who wants to communicate her feelings. We chose the latter and I'm really glad we did.
How did the collaboration with INXS come about? Any more international ventures in the offing?

Sona was released in September last year. The first single Bolo Na was among the most played songs and struck a chord with the urban audience almost instantaneously. INXS was coming down to India in October for a concert in Mumbai and Bangalore and evinced interest in collaborating with an Indian artist.
I understand that SONY BMG sent them options of Indian singers and their material but fortunately for me they chose to go with me as they felt my voice would complement their lead singer J D Fortune. Soon after the band got in touch about wanting to do another track together. It's a work in progress.
I've also collaborated with a DJ from the UK called John Flemming on a dance track. The production should be completed soon. Some UK artists recently got in touch with me to create a 'hip-hop' version of Aaja Ve and a couple of interesting projects... so lots in the pipeline.
The video for Aaja Ve (my favourite Sona Mohapatra song) really stands out. How did you come up with the concept?
The concept is Deepti Gupta's. She also shot and directed the video. She came up with it after watching a live performance of mine in a concert where the audience was in her words 'intoxicated' and the performance had a unique interactive quality to it. That's where the idea of the video came from.
While the song is a dialogue with the divine, in this video it's a call beckoning to live life and let yourself be elevated by the spirit of the song.
You have been trained in classical music, right?
Yes. I wouldn't call myself a classical singer though, that would require a whole different life of sadhna.
You took a few years to come up with Sona. How long do fans have to wait till your next effort?
There's lots in the pipeline as I mentioned earlier. I hope to tour and play live a lot more. Hope that the climate in the country for live music and venues improves. I've started working on new material but will put it out only when our listeners are ready for it.
The fact that most music is downloaded for free or consumed off television doesn't help the cause of music like mine.
Any particular style of singing you want to explore. Who are your favourite singers and composers?
I do want to research various folk stylings around the country. It's also a dream to go live in Spain for a good enough period and understand and learn some basic Flamenco stylings. My favourite singers and composers include Nusrat Fateh Ali, Sting, Bebe, Girija Devi, Pt Channulal Mishra, Ram Sampath, A R Rahman... the list is endless actually.
And I take it you have absolutely no regrets about leaving a high-profile career. Was it a hard decision to concentrate solely on singing?
I took the long, hard road to music. I believe my education will always hold me in good stead - not so much literally, but in terms of shaping my personality and opinions. You're only as good as your experiences. This may sound corny but you don't choose music. Music chooses you. I NEED to sing. I'm most alive when in front of an audience, with my band behind me.
I've dreamt about being a singer for as long as I can remember. What I didn't want to compromise on was a good education. So I chose the long, hard way to Mumbai, but I believe it's been worthwhile...and absolutely no regrets. I'm living my dream...and with no compromises.

Other Exclusive Interviews on this blog
Mahesh Dattani
Ruchi Narain


  1. Fantastic singer , personality & really honest. Refreshing . Hope to hear a lot more about her. Great band too. Cheers to you man for giving us this exclusive...

  2. Nice Interview,ToeKnee!:)
    I like the "Aaja Ve" song too, but my favorite Sona song would defi be "Bolo Na"..Thanks to FM channels playing it a gazillion times, the song slowly grew on me and I ended up loving it!:)

  3. Thanks. You can know more about her on her official site -

  4. Really great album, it really touches everyone's heart. your voice made me your big fan. keep it up. god bless you.

  5. These songs ouught to have gotten played sooo much more on our channels & radio stations !! Artist is unique, voice is absolutely intoxicating & her album just doesnt seem like a debut . Cheers to her n the team backing her...gotta know more about her keep us posted !

  6. AJA VE is the best video ever !! The most original video for the most original music for the most original artist ! Thanks for putting this intrview out ...she rocks !!

  7. Im from Pakistan & this lady has really impressed a lot of us out here. Her songs & her voice & her beauty are a perfect combination!Just saw her latest song ishq nachaya on youtube & so many pakistani singers like abida parveen & nusrat have sung these lyrics before ..this composition does perfect justice to it & Sonas voice is intoxicating .Thanks fr this interview

  8. I had seen her previous songs on TV but I was not immediately impressed by them...But saw her video of "Tere Ishq Nachaya" on TV a few days back and was blown away by the composition of the song and the wonderful video...Don't know if this is her original song..'cos I've heard that Abida Parveen has also sung a song by the name "Tere Ishq Nachaya"...Anyway, it's a great work by Sona...I'm definitely going to check out more of her songs...

  9. sona is a fantastic vocalist..keep up d spirit..i vil always support ur genre of music cos u r unique!
    my mail id

  10. hey..ur an awesome singer..m waiting for ur nw albums...

  11. Sona,vakai bahut khoobsurat ho tum,adaye aur bhi dilkash.tumhari hansi sunne ke baad bhi kaano me khanakati rahti h.'abhi nahi ana sajna'ye song mere dil ki gahraiyo me basa h,bas tum gaye jaao aur hum gungunaye jaye.kuch to khaas ho tum kyoki tum lajawab u Aparna

  12. sona really rocks......i jus love her songs....
    most of my friends don't even know about her so i keep on telling them about her
    she's really a combination of beauty with excellent music.....
    i would love to see her live performance at my college or anywhere 1 day....
    my favourite will surely be "Bolo - Naa"
    aaja ve is also really energising

  13. Free online view all Pakistani singers, biography, pictures, interviews, videos, songs. Send email to your favourite Pakistani singers online.

    Best regards.

  14. one of the best singers to have come on scene in the past 10-15 years or so... One of the BEST.


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