Hindustani singer Bijayashree Samal ‘Chand Ke Phool’ song goes global
Hindustani classical musician Bijayashree Samal has a packed calendar after her single finds place in an international album whose theme is conflict.
Usually, it is longing for friends and family that would bring Bijayashree Samal back to Odisha from Switzerland, where she teaches Indian classical music at Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie in Geneva. This time it was the music itself that brought her to India—for a week-long tour to Jaipur and Bhubaneswar. Currently basking in the success of her new Hindi single ‘Chand Ke Phool’, the result of global musical collaboration, Samal considers taking Hindustani classical music to audiences across India through talks and performances of her musical mission. The ragas and compositions she learned from gurus Basudev Sahu and Chittaranjan Pani moored her when she married in 2006 to move to Zurich from India where she was finishing her doctoral thesis in chemistry.
‘Chand Ke Phool’, which features in the international album, Beyond Music Vol.3-Conflict, played at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland until July 16 and is among the three singles selected to promote the album produced by four-time Grammy Award winners Michael League and Bill Laurance.
League is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, based in Catalonia, Spain, while Laurance is a London-based pianist, keyboardist and composer. The album was put together by Beyond Music, a Swiss online non-profit musical platform founded in 2018 by American-Swiss singer Tina Turner to bring together musicians, composers, singers and songwriters from different cultures and musical styles. The current album, with conflict as its theme, features 16 songs by 54 artists from 40 countries and is a genre-bending fusion of funk, jazz, pop and world music.
‘Chand Ke Phool’ is a unique Indian/Andean Cumbia number, which translates to ‘moon flowers’, and is inspired by a hypothetical metaphor that the earth and moon were once a single planet, which later split into two.
Samal compares it to the conflicts that traumatised nations such as Romania, Moldova, Ireland and Yugoslavia. The song has a deceptively playful mood even as it addresses inner chaos. The single’s message is about harmony; that at the core of all conflict lies a void, which, if filled with love and care, can bring peace and prosperity.
“Music is an equaliser, and in times of angst, it spreads hope and happiness across borders,” believes Samal, who is an exponent of the Gwalior Gharana and Odissi vocals.
In 2018, she founded the international music band ‘Nandighosha’, which marries Indian compositions (originals as well as traditional) with Western harmonic music. The fusion band performs at concerts in and around Switzerland and collaborates with artists from other world music genres.
Born in a culturally rich family in Kendrapara, Odisha, Samal’s learning continues under her present guru, Pandit Sanjeev Abhayankar. When she is not practising or performing, she holds online classes for music students from India, France, Germany, Liechtenstein and the UK. Besides music, she loves to write poetry and essays about Indian music in Odia, Hindi and English. She is a linguaphile and can speak Bengali, French and a bit of German.
Samal’s calendar is full; she is cutting three albums this year—one with her music band, another with
a New York-based Israeli jazz pianist and a third with Nic Legacy from Canada. ‘Chand ke Phool’ is just the beginning.