Today we are privileged to be along one of the most talented singers of Dehradun. She is one of the rare gems who has her fame spread across not only in Uttarakhand but nationwide. Her performances are the first choice for cultural events and she is invited to every part of the country. Her efforts have given a new identity to Uttarakhand folk music. The lead vocalist of an all women band, Swati Singh revealed some interesting details about her personal and professional journey.
When and how did the idea of making an all women band strike you?
It uses to always hit me somewhere that most bands had a female vocalist but male played the instruments. I wanted a woman band that would be propelled entirely by girls. Though our band is only 3 years old, the idea came to me 5-6 years ago from now.
How many members are currently a part of the band? What kind of music do you all play?
There are mainly 4 members but we keep hiring based on requirements. The four include me Swati Singh vocalist, Bhakumbhari Kotnala- Base guitarist, Shrividya Kotnala Drummer and Deepika Patri vocalist & keyboard. We play Sufi, classical and folk songs. Other than that we try to promote our regional Uttarakhandi folk songs.
How did you develop an interest in music?
Mom and music are the two halves of my entire life story. My mother was a music teacher in government school. Since childhood, I was brought up in an environment where music gets a lot of importance. I started playing instruments when I was pretty young and later trained in vocals and playing Tabla. My genes had music and it dragged me towards it at an early age.
Did your parents support you in your decision to start a band? What all did you face to reach till here?
Basically, I am from Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh and all my family members are government servants. My mother also wanted me to be a government servant. I did B. Ed and cleared BTC and was appointed as a teacher in primary school along with my sister. But this was not the job I wanted to do. So finally I left the job and joined a stock market company. Later I got a promotion and moved to Dehradun as Branch Manager 10 years ago. In Dehradun, I found Saptak College of Performing Arts.
Now when my mother sees people appreciating my work she feels happy. But somewhere government job factor is still there in the back of her mind!
Did you face any resistance from men when you started your band?
Yes, a little bit. What’s more fragile than a man’s ego? Some find it hard to accept that women can be equally capable of doing what they consider as their forte. But again it’s also true without support from our male friends we would not have reached where we are today. Event organizers, fabricators are mostly men. So without their support, it not possible to do things all alone. However, people appreciated us a lot for forming a women band.
What kind of difficulties did you face during band formation?
Training pollen people to play instruments was the toughest part. I searched a lot but could not find a single woman playing drum or guitar. Then I decided to train my students. Shrividya and Deepika were my students. I started training them on instruments. I saw zeal in Shakumbhair, mother of my student Shrividya. Later I asked her to be a part of the team after learning guitar. But women have to manage a lot. They can’t give their entire time to cater to their passion. While doing music I’m glad my band members take care of their families and shoulder lot of responsibilities.
Which one was your most memorable performance to date?
Once we played during “Women safety and awareness campaign” in police line, organized by Police department. There were hundreds of young girls, looking at us. It always feels great to inspire people to your work. They wanted to know about our journey, and achieve something in their life like us. The entire experience was my best memory to date.