Musician Sushma Soma speaks about her latest album, Home
Rooted in Carnatic sounds, the album is dedicated to Mother Earth and the animals she gives refuge to
Award-winning Carnatic vocalist and musician, Sushma Soma recently released an album dedicated to Mother Earth and the animals she gives refuge to, called Home. The album is rooted in Carnatic sounds and explores how we treat nature. We caught up with the celebrated vocalist to talk about her latest release.
What was the idea behind your album, Home?
The album began as an introspection of my relationship with nature and the environment. I was gutted as I read about the kind of cruelty animals faced across the world — the pregnant elephant in India who was fed a pineapple loaded with firecrackers, gorillas scrambling for their safety amidst armed militia violence, forest logging, and poaching in the Congo, and the loss of indigenous plant and wildlife in the Amazon forest fires. All these events bothered me and I wanted to do something for the voiceless.
But, as I started working on it, I realised that I cannot be the voice of something when my very existence is a burden on the same. I could only be the voice for myself — for the wonder ment, pain, conflict, shame, gratitude, and so much more that I feel towards this incredible planet — the only home I’ve known. The album is my tribute to the beautiful ecosystem we share and a desperate plea to ourselves — to save our incredible home.
Tell us about the songs and the influence of Carnatic ragas in them.
The album has seven tracks that I created with Aditya Prakash. The percussion arrangement was done by Praveen Sparsh. Each song in the album has a different theme and we played around with the ragas and instrumentation too. For example, for the first track, Nature, inspired by an Oscar-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher, we used Carnatic ragas like hamsadhwani and elements like virutham and tanam, and also featured handpan artiste Manu Delago for the melodic percussion element. As we go towards the middle of the album, an imaginary story about the journey of earth is explored through the song titled MA. We used ragas like shankarabharanam, bhairavi and varali. Towards the end, you can see my expression of grief and shame with the track, Grief. The track features violin by British violinist Fra Rustumji and British cellist Corentin Chassard. Originally sung in a different melody, this song has been re-tuned by me in the raga Peelu.
Who are your music idols?
I find inspiration from my mentor RK Shriramkumar and also TM Krishna. I’ve been listening to a lot of OAFF (Kabeer Kathpalia) and would love to collaborate with him, someday.
I am working on myself ! After Home, I needed some time to sit with all the feedback I received and internalise it into my music.
Streaming on all online audio platforms.