Samli finally releases her dream album

Utra Samli, 60, of Tacirua East, Suva at her home show her kirtan album which was released in 2014. Picture: RAKESH KUMAR

UTRA Samli has been singing Hindu religious songs or spiritual chants known as kirtan from as far back as she can remember.

The 60-year-old grandmother’s dream of capturing her voice on record finally came true when she released her first kirtan album in 2014.

The former Boubale, Bulileka, Labasa resident said her four children, who all live overseas with their families, had always encouraged her to continue singing whenever she felt like giving up on her dream.

“My husband, Raj Kumar Samli, was also very supportive, even after we got married he never stopped me from singing and neither did my children,” said Samli.

“I had a dream to release my kirtan album and with the encouragement of my children, I managed to produce and release it.

“After my husband passed away, I faced lots of challenges, but that didn’t stop me from fulfilling my dream to record and produce an album.”

Samli said during her school days in the ’70s and ’80s, she used to sing most of the songs based on the theme of “mother”.

“My mother passed away when I was very small, I was not even in school.

“I was missing my mum a lot and maybe that was the reason I sang songs based on how mothers are the primary carer in every family.

“My favourite songs during my young school days were – Maa mujhe apne aanchal mein chupa le…, Maa tu ansu ponch le apni…, Sabse acchi pyari maa…, Main ek nanha sa….

“When my teachers saw my singing talent, they pushed me and kept encouraging me to take part in stage events which I did and used to get trophies and prizes.”

Samli said after her mother’s death, her mama (mum’s brother) raised her.

“He was very strict and didn’t like me singing because he was concerned I would neglect my studies. So I used to sing and listen to songs on the radio when he was not around.

“Later on, when I started to take part in big events organised at my school and he saw me performing, he recognised that I had talent and was very proud of me.

“My music teachers – Manik Dass and Deo Sahayam – were like my brothers. They helped me a lot and both of them kept encouraging me and played a big role in promoting my talent.”

Samli said after she got married, her husband and in-laws also recognised her talent.

“I can proudly say that my in-laws were the best. They gave me all the support and love I needed.

“My husband was a member of a Ramayan mandali and I used to sing kirtan in some of their programs.”

Samli said after the success of her debut kirtan album, she was now preparing to release her first-ever lokgeet album. Lokgeet is a Hindu song sung at weddings.

“I am still working on it. Due to some challenges, it is on hold at the moment.

“I am trying my best to have it released as soon as possible.”

Samli said she had been overwhelmed with the support from Fijians of Indian descent who had engaged her to sing lokgeet at Indian weddings.

She said another source of inspiration was the opportunity given to her to sing with some of the most popular Indian bands in the country.

“I started with ‘Lahere Sargam’, then joined ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, after that, I joined ‘Rimjhim Orchestra’ and ‘Millenium Orchestra’.

“After my husband’s death, I joined these bands because I was feeling lonely at home.”

Samli said another goal she had was to encourage young singers to venture outside of their comfort zone and perform in the public arena.

“Never lose hope. If you read the stories of some successful Bollywood singers, you’ll find that they had gone through so many challenges.

“So my advice to all is to keep working towards building up your talent in whichever field you are in.”

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