On the 22 August 2015 I performed my first official concert at the evocative Union Chapel London. The stage in this beautiful building has been graced by music royalty.
The likes of Sir Elton John, Tom Jones and Brian May have all tread the boards there, but this was the first concert of Sikh kirtan ever hosted at the venue. I was so honoured to sing my spiritual song, filling up the room with this sacred music that is so close to my heart.
All profits from the concert and my album sales are being donated directly to the foundation, Kirtan for Causes. We’ve totted up the ticket sales, album sales from iTunes, Amazon and in store and I’m proud to announce we will be sponsoring the education of one hundred more disadvantaged children in rural Punjab with these funds. I’ll update more with progress update on this in my future blogs. This is an amazing achievement and will create real change for these children.
On the day of the concert my soundcheck began at 15.00. Last minute musical touches were added and final preparations made. As I warmed up my voice on stage, every corner of the room was filled with over sixty people running cables, adjusting lighting, setting up mics and doing all the other important tasks needed to get the show on the road. I was overcome with a wave of emotion watching these colleagues and friends working together to prepare for the concert. I’m so thankful to everyone that was involved without whom this wonderful evening could never have happened.
Soon after soundcheck, the doors opened and the audience flooded in. The place was packed out with people from all over London. Some guests I met even told me they had travelled from Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester especially for my show. The room was filled with good and loving energy, I could feel it in the air as I took to the stage.
The concert opened with a performance from Ishminder Kaur. Talvin Singh and Kirpal Singh Panesar followed this with a short but wonderful performance. Next it was my turn to perform my song ‘I Bow To You Waheguru’ from my album of the same name with renowned tabla player Talvin Singh and the wonderful guitarist Giuliano Modarelli. Performing with live acoustic accompaniment is a new challenge for me as I’ve previously been used to accompanying myself or singing to a backing track. I can’t pretend I wasn’t somewhat anxious – for the first fifteen minutes before starting my mind raced and I struggled not to visibly shake with nerves. But as soon as I sat on the stage I relaxed into it, my pulse slowed and I began to enjoy the experience. I remembered why I was here, the purpose of doing all this and felt humbled that The Almighty permitted it. I explained to the audience the meaning of the lyrics and how to breathe through the vibrations of the music to reach a calm, meditative state. It was a joy to see people closing their eyes, immersing in the sound and losing their inhibitions.
After a short break, the next section of the concert saw me perform with violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, Giuliano, percussionist U-cef and Dhruv Arts Children’s choir. I’d asked all the musicians to cover their heads on stage and U-cef wore a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf in tribute to his heritage. As we performed together it struck me how international the ensemble was. Here we were; a South Indian violinist, an Italian guitarist, a Palestinian percussionist and myself, a Kirtan singer, singing in a chapel, brought together by the power of devotional kirtan with the purpose of raising money for a good cause.
I’m feeling inspired and ready to tackle my next project. The coming months are going to be filled to the brim with more music-making and exciting developments. Keep up to date with my blog for news on more concerts, collaborations and more to be revealed! Waheguru Ji