Early childhood memories are notoriously vague, but I am told that by the wee age of four I was singing songs I heard on the radio, wherever and whenever I got a chance to; by that I mean whenever my mum wasn’t rebuking me… ‘Stop serenading the world!’ she’d say, and folks around would go “let her sing”… I was all of four after all, hahaha.
Thereafter my mother, a wise, kind, wonderful lady, maintained that Music was and would always be my first love. She was right…I do so love to sing…it works magic within me! I spent my years in school singing in competitions and wherever else I was allowed to or asked to.
My break came when I was introduced to Brother Tony through my school principal (the late) Fr. Rodney Esperance. Br. Tony recorded me singing to guitar accompaniment and he shared this with his cousin Ossie. Ossie, the drummer of the Soft Rock Revolution, George’s band at the most prestigious and happening (at that time) night club in the city, ‘The Supper Club’, at the Oberoi Sheraton, Bombay. Straight out of school, I joined the band! That was the start of a magical musical journey. I was very young at the time and my voice was still maturing and discovering itself. During our tenure at the Supper Club we were asked to perform for a show at Eros theatre, The Premier of Abba the Movie. Our premier performance got us great laud.
Being the “most happening place in town”, we met and performed alongside singers like Usha Uttup, Nancy Halloway, Sharon Prabhakar, Ian & Shelle, Ricky May, Freddie Tira, Dalreen who performed spot shows at the restaurant.
The opportunity to sing at the Supper Club was a very big break for me, and, I learnt a lot from the great musicians in the band. It truly was amazing! The band rocked. I sang with them from 1976 till ‘79.
I got married and laid off music for a short while. Then in 1982, I got another big break when the late Manuel D’Souza included me in his ensemble at the Café Royal, Hotel Oberoi Towers. Here too, I learnt a lot from the musicians.
Regular singing and lessons learnt, along the way, made my singing and my repertoire improve. My voice blossomed and changed.
When the Café Royal closed for renovation, Ronnie Monsorate invited me to join his gig band. I thoroughly enjoyed my sojourn with extremely good musicians. I recall Tina Turner had just won her first award for “What’s love got to do with it” and I recall how I twisted and turned my untrained, girl next door voice to perform her style of singing, and, for me, the result was satisfying, very satisfying. Clients loved the end product.
Then Cosmas Fernandes who had joined Shabaka (Café Royal), as the guitarist, for a short span, asked if we would like to perform at the Palace of the Western Empress, Hotel Sea Rock’s revolving restaurant, so with Cosmas (Cozzie), now playing keyboards, (when Xavier left), the new Shabaka made music at the Sea Rock.
I might mention here that, since I had no formal training in music, neither in school nor elsewhere, I remembered the advice given to me earlier by a band leader: ”Learn and perform songs as close to the originals as you can, since we don’t compose our own songs” Taking this to heart, I set out to do just that when I joined Vincent Moniz keyboardist at the Bonaparte’s Bar at the Leela Penta. I endeavoured to sound exactly like the original singers and managed to come close to achieving that goal. Our clientele loved it. I enjoyed singing, in this duo set-up, with Vincent, a great pianist.
Up until now I had usually stayed in hotel contracts of 2 years or more. Now, personal limitations caused me to take on 2 short contracts, I joined Benny Soans’ band at the Sansui, Hotel Airport Centaur after which , I later joined Felix Torcato’s band at the Bayview Bar, The Oberoi Bombay.
I then made a 3 month trip to Australia to visit relatives. Colin, who was there at the time, introduced me to two of his friends with whom I performed at an Indian Restaurant over weekends. It was a blast! Thanks guys.
I returned to India and, after singing with the gig band Symphony for a while, I got into Bonaventures. Gosh those were good times singing the circuit and enjoying every minute of it. I sang with them for 3 years and then went back to my comfort zone, hotel singing, where I performed at:
The Fiorella, Hotel Leela Kempinski, back again singing duo with Vincent Moniz.
The Apollo Bar at the Taj Intercontinental Bombay in a trio set up, and
The Lancer’s Bar at Hotel Oberoi Towers, singing duo with Schubert Vaz.
In 2000 I was offered a contract with the Orchid Ecotel, if I could perform duo (with a 2nd female artiste), to minus tracks. Being a unique offer, I went out, bought tracks tailored to my keys, bought a keyboard through which I ran my tracks and sang with Michelle Alvares, a fabulous singer herself. I sang there for two years (the second of which was solo) and, then went on to further solo performances at fine dining restaurants and freelance gigs in Mumbai.
I’ve sung at Jazz by the Bay & NJJBTB’s country nights on many occasions. Country music has always been one of my favourite genres of music. When asked why, I say, “country music is so earthy and true to life”, the words and tunes grab my heart and turn it mushy. They bring tears to my eyes and are beautiful to sing. Of course, as life is all about change, there have been changes to those earthy, true to life country songs too.
My repertoire spans more than just country. I enjoy learning almost all kinds of music with the exception of heavy metal.
During my singing career, I’ve sung nationally in Bombay, Pune, Calcutta and other places in India; and, internationally in Australia and Dubai – at Pedro’s (a Goan restaurant) and Century Village.
Last but not least, being a member of the Cine Singers’ Association, I have sung choral back up, with the team, for many music directors’ scores, all thanks to all my friends from the western choral group in the Bollywood singing industry.
Before I let you go, I must mention and thank all the famous musicians I have performed with and learnt from. To name a few: George & the SRR which included Walter (male singer) – the man with an awesome voice, Trini Pacheco (drums), Desmond Taylor (bass guitar), Schubert, Eusden, Pascoal (guitar) and Shyam Raj (saxophone and flute)* Manuel D’Souza, Anniclete Noronha, Leslie Lewis (everyone knows him), Bertie (bass), Michael, Cedric (drums), Noel Borthwick (saxophone), Cosmas Fernandes (guitar)* Xavier Fernandes (piano), Abe, Percy D’Souza (drums), Gerson Fernandes(drummer)* Ronnie Monsorate, Rex Monsorate, Jimmy (guitar)* Benny Soans, Johnny Rodrigues (sax), Donald Pereira (guitar), Kelly (bassist) * Benny Rozario, Joe Pereira, Ernest Flanagan (bass), Lester (drums) Clifford Pereira (guitar)* Felix Torcato, Derrick (guitar), Saby (bassist), Saby (saxophonist), Peter (drums), Luke *** Mario Mascarenhas, Mark Mascarenhas *** Bonaventure D’Souza, Loy Hendricks, Joe D’Souza *** Vincent Moniz *** Moreno Alphonso, Tolentino Fernandes (guitar), Bob Dias (guitarist) *** Schubert Vaz (pianist & keyboard player, originally a saxophonist), *** Jimmy (saxophone and flute), Roger (drums).
During my musical journey, I have met and sung with Colin D’Cruz, our very own Colin. He included me in his jazz ensembles for A.D. Singh’s and other parties, and a very good friendship ensued from then on, thank you Colin. I have had and still have awesome musician friends like Tony Dias, Harry Manning (keyboards), Ivan (keyboards), Nerris, Ashley Quiney, Carl Rodricks, Savio Rodricks, and so many others, (please forgive me if I have missed mentioning anyone in particular) all great musicians with whom I could just go up on stage and have an impromptu jam, not missing a beat. That’s how well they all trained me, each in their own inimitable way.
Thank you for reliving my journey with me as I progressed from band to band to trio to duo and finally to a solo act over a lifetime of movement and music, during which singing has stayed the strong driving force of my existence no matter whether or not I had a day job.
I thank the Lord for gifting me with a voice, and, everyone I’ve met and worked with, some awe inspiring singers from the music industry (who have also taught me so much), for the many opportunities given to me. I am so humbled, grateful and proud for having had such wonderful, awesome musicians and friends, to sing with.
May all of us keep on playing and the music go on and on and on… Let the music play.