Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:27 PM

A life in notes and melodies

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FEB 11 -

One among a new generation of Nepali artists who hope to take the country’s music industry to new heights, Mausami Gurung has been part of the music scene here for more than a decade now. An artist whose musical influences range from the modern to the classical, Gurung has three solo albums to her credit and has lent her vocals to many duets and group songs. The singer’s associations with Nepali film music have, in fact, been highly appreciated; she is often regarded as belonging to a new breed of singers in the film music fraternity who have revived an industry that had almost stagnated by the early 2000s.  

Born in Barrackpore, Kolkata and brought up in various locations around the Indian subcontinent (her father served in the Indian Army which meant a lot of travelling around for the family), the singer says her first major musical influence was her mother. “My mother would often sing in Nepali; folk tunes and songs by the late Narayan Gopal and his contemporaries, mostly,” says Gurung as she recalls what was, in many ways, her initiation into music. “Children, as soon as they become proficient speakers, start exploring the limits to which they can take their voices,” she continues. In other words, they start singing. It is as they mature, and grow older, that they leave singing behind.”

Gurung, however, continued sing throughout her childhood and adolescence, and says her singing, during her school and college years, was “more or less casual.” While studying in Lucknow, she was quite active in a church choir, and although an avid admirer of Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar—two of the most famous female playback singers of all time—Gurung says she had no idea she would eventually become a professional singer herself. “I used to sing while hanging out with friends, but none of it was very serious,” she says.

It was really only after she started living in Nepal that Gurung began pursuing her musical aspirations. She visited Nepal in 2001, “after a long time,” she says, to have her citizenship identification card issued. “Once I got here, I didn’t feel like going back. I decided to stay, and that proved to be the most important decision I’ve ever made,” she adds. “Memories from my childhood are quite incomplete without images of my mother singing songs about Nepal. And when I came here, I simply fell in love with the country.”  

Gurung joined the Gandarva Sangeet Kendra in Kathmandu and starting studying music there. Her professional career began in 2003 when she sang the title song for the movie Deshai Ramailo, a duet with DB Gurung. She also lent her voice to a song called Itaiko Gaaro from the same movie. Although her first steps into the film music industry did not result in any hits, Yo Karma Bhumi Ko Aaga, her first solo recorded track for the movie Sapana Sapana proved quite successful. It was only then, Gurung admits, that she really began entertaining the possibility that she might have a successful career as a playback singer here.

She did not, however, limit herself to the film music industry and released her first album, Unforgettable, under the banner of the Dhaulagiri Cassette Centre in 2003. The songs Parelima Chau Ki Kaso and Mero Man from the album were instant successes, and were even led to nominations at the Image FM and Hits FM Music Awards. Pal followed in 2005, and Mahasoos, her most recent, came out in 2012.

The singer has also performed collaboratively with some well-known names in the Nepali music industry. The song Ma Nepali, her first collaborative effort with Nirnaya Shrestha, was a huge success. And Chyangba Hoi Changba, a remixed version of the old Nepali classic she performed with Kranti Ale, The Unity and DJ Raju, was, at the time it came out in 2005, a phenomenal sensation. The singer later went on to collaborate with the likes of Nima Rumba, Sanjeev Pradhan, Sugam Pokhrel, Rajesh Payal Rai and Amit Paul, and also lent her voice to other remixes such as Kanchi Hei Kanchi, Machi Marana, Jhumkey Phooli and Ma Roop Hu.

Gurung has been in the industry for a long time now, and fondly recalls her experience singing in the 2011 concert series Stop Global Warming as one of the most memorable she’s ever had. “I travelled to some of the most exotic tourist destinations in the country—Namche, Lukla and other areas in the Khumbu region—as part of the concert tour,” she says, and the experience will remain with her forever.  

An avid supporter of anti-piracy laws, Gurung believes that the Nepali music industry has a lot of potential, and urges young singers to have faith in themselves, “keep practicing and try to be original.” She also lauds YouTube and other video-social networking sites as mediums that are helping amateur artists gain recognition. As someone who grew outside the country and found it difficult to access Nepali songs, Gurung is particularly appreciative of these websites. “A lot of people are listening to Nepali songs on YouTube or even iTunes. I think that this is something immensely valuable to all of us; whether we’re living right here in Nepal or outside of it.”

 

Posted on: 2013-02-11 08:48


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