Born to an Assamese mother, Vasundhara V, the talented jazz singer based in New Delhi, is proud of her Northeastern roots. ‘This interview gives me a lot of joy as I am half Assamese. My mom is a Barua and the Assamese side of my family has been very much involved with music and films especially my grand-aunt Pratima Barua Pandey and PC Barua, who happens to be the maker of the original Devdas.’
On 13th May, her latest project ‘Merkaba’ will be performing at NCPA Mumbai. ‘Mer’ stands for ‘light’, ‘Ka’ for ‘spirit’ and ‘Ba’ for body. We find out more –
How did you get into jazz music?
I’m a soul singer who began to spend time with people who are adept at playing jazz. Before singing professionally, the bulk of my singing was in choirs and jazz came to me through vocal jazz groups such as Manhattan Transfer, The Real Group, The New York Voices etc.
In India, jazz has a limited audience; do you feel it can have more reach if promoted well?
Audiences are no longer as limited in numbers as they were 10 years ago. There is an explosion of interest for this art form and there are lots of musicians, listeners and venues that have a deep association with it. The sound of jazz has influenced a lot of the contemporary independent music coming out of Delhi, where the community is expanding really fast.
We have very young and stunning players like Ron Cha (Assam) taking the scene by storm
What is your take on the jazz music scene in our country?
Jazz is growing. It is relevant. It is inclusive and empathic by definition. The scene is growing in tandem with the number of musicians and listeners. We now need to work towards the concept of standardization of certain aspects of booking and working professionally within music.
Tell us a little about Merkaba
Merkaba is the brainchild of Sanjay Divecha. We have been writing songs together for the past 8 months. The songs are being brought to life by a stellar line up of musicians – Gino Banks (Drums), Sheldon D’Silva (Bass) and Karan Joseph (Keys). It’s a new take on contemporary music. We play our opening concert ‘Jazz & Soul Alliance’ at the NCPA Experimental Theatre on 13th May.
How is Merkaba different from your earlier work?
Merkaba is Sanjay’s brainchild and putting the sonic and ideological vision together with him is very exciting. I feel attached to the songs and am also musically fulfilled. This is also a dream band in every way.
As told to Jadeed Hussain