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In Conversation With Sudha Subbaraman

Ranjani Saigal

Sudha comes from a musical family, and has been classically trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music. She is currently a senior student of Smt. Swati Panda (Raganjali school of Music).  Sudha is extremely fortunate for also being trained and mentored by Vidushi Arati Ankalikar Tikekar and also takes occasional Dhrupad lessons from Padmashri Gundecha Brothers.   Sudha has been actively performing in the area with many bands like Kashish, Aaroh, Din Check etc. and is at ease singing genres from Indian classical/semi-classical to light, contemporary, Bollywood music.  She has composed a couple of singles and meditational albums which are available on soundcloud and YouTube. Sudha is also trained with a vocologist, Heather Lyle, NCVS as a Voice Coach and certified Vocal Yoga®? instructor and enjoys teaching children and adults for voice lessons as singers, actors and group choir lessons.  She is presenting Surmayee Shaam on Dec 8 at the Chelmsford Performing Arts Center (Chelmsford High School) from 4:30 - 8 pm.  Please check out http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/cal.php?stage=1&event_id=14033

She is married to Kumar Vishwanathan, and the mother of two brilliant kids. Vedant is a junior at Acton-Boxborough high school and is avidly interested in Math, technology, computing and the political state of affairs.
Vanshika is in 6th grade, and is a prolific writer, budding artist, and entrepreneur.  She runs a business called Quetly Arts to sell customized art.

Could you tell us a little about your musical journey? 

I started singing since my school days. Like any typical South-Indian family growing up in Bombay, I grew up listening to MS Subbalakshmi, Madurai Mani Iyer and Hindi Film music on VividhBharati.  I was initiated into Carnatic music with informal lessons from my sister, Shanti Subbaraman. I have performed in school and college bands and won several prizes back then. I did take a break from serious music for 6-7 years and then decided to pursue training in Hindustani music after I moved to the Boston area.   

I have been a student of SwatiJi - Smt. Swati Panda (Raganjali School of Music) since 2004 learning Hindustani Classical vocal.  

Since 2015, I am extremely fortunate to be trained and mentored by Vidushi Arati Ankalikar TikekarJi.  My quest for learning different styles of music inspired me to also take Dhrupad vocal lessons from the esteemed Padmashri Gundecha brothers - I had an opportunity to perform with a locally formed Dhrupad choir group at the Learnquest music conference in Spring 2018. 

I have always been intrigued by voice science and the movement of voice as such, so I have also trained with a vocologist, Heather Lyle, NCVS from Los Angeles.  I completed a Vocal Yoga®? certification course taught by Heather Lyle and I am now also a Vocal coach and Vocal Yoga®? Instructor. I teach voice lessons for kids/teenagers and singers/actors or anyone exploring voice.  My goal is to help anyone bring out their authentic, resonant voice forward. 

Could you describe the program Surmayee Shaam ? 

'Surmayee Shaam: An Evening of Melody' is a musical fundraiser in support of a non-profit organization called Bal Duniya, a 501c(3) organization based in Boston.  

The event is on Saturday, Dec 8 at the Chelmsford Performing Arts Center (Chelmsford High School) from 4:30 - 8 pm.  The program info, artists info and agenda is updated on our Facebook event page. 

This is a show re-creating popular Bollywood melodies from retro to contemporary with a live band.  I'm working with an amazing local talent of singers, and professional musicians from Berklee and local music schools.  As this cause is towards children, I have also selected some upcoming young talents taught by local music teachers to perform with me.

 The Emcees for the show are also kids trained by Paresh Motiwala. 
My friends at RangManch and I are organizing this.  Partnering with me on the charity front is a local organization called Bal Duniya, a non-profit organization humbly run by local school-going kids, with a mission to help underprivileged kids around the world.  Our beneficiary for this concert is Aditya Jyot Foundation for Twinkling Little Eyes (AJFTLE), a not-for-profit organization, based in Mumbai. 

Could you tell us a little about the Aditya Jyot Foundation that you are supporting through this program? 

Aditya Jyot Foundation for Twinkling Little Eyes (AJFTLE), is a non-profit foundation, based in Mumbai. Established in 2005, Aditya Jyot was born out of the desire expressed by Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam (former President of India) on his visit to Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital to put a twinkle in the eyes of the visually impaired.  Aditya Jyot Eye hospital is a cutting-edge 24x7 facility in Mumbai, offering topnotch eye care and surgeries. It is headed by the world-renowned ophthalmologist, Padmashri Dr. S. Natarajan, and Dr. Radhika Krishnan serves as the CEO. 

To further this mission, Aditya Jyot foundation offers regular eye camps and eye-related care servicing the poorest and the neglected population with an aim to prevent avoidable blindness. They provide pediatric ophthalmology for kids and free surgeries for the poor.  

What motivates you to give back ? What are the causes you have supported?

I really believe that giving back is part of the circle of life.  I have received in abundance in one way or the other. Giving back according to me is one way to make a positive difference.

I am really passionate about causes such as education, prevention of child abuse and domestic abuse, disability rights, infrastructure improvement for the disabled, cancer cure, hunger relief and cutting-edge medical advancements.

I have actively been a supporter of EKAL, AccesSportAmerica (adaptive recreational programs for adults and kids living with disabilities), Project Bread, Sankara Cancer Foundation, Akshaya Patra etc.   
Having personally experienced close family members being affected by some of these causes - eye disease, cancer, disability etc, giving back gives me the satisfaction that I'm helping bring a change. 

You teach music therapy. Could you tell us a little about that? 

I teach voice lessons privately and also Vocal Yoga™ classes at schools/Yoga centers. 

I have always been intrigued by the use of the voice.  Some of the things we, as singers or speakers often ignore is how to best use our vocal cords.  What are our areas of tension, what can we do to ease performance anxiety, what can we do to bring out our best, most authentic and effective voices?     
To quote H.W Longfellow, the human voice is indeed the muscle of the soul.  Just as muscles relate to the physical body, the soul uses the voice to communicate and connect with people in myriad ways.  I believe the voice is the expression of our soul. 

I offer voice training for kids, teenagers and adults using holistic methods of breathing, pranayama, Yoga, Taichi, Vocal Yoga, Fitzmaurice voicework, Italian BelCanto school-inspired voicework for vocal strength, range, agility and overall robustness of the voice. I also teach traditional techniques of Indian classical music practices to further groom the voice to have greater skill.

I am certified as a Vocal Yoga™ instructor (trained with Heather Lyle, NCVS vocologist, voice science expert and creator of the Vocal Yoga™ Method), I also offer Vocal Yoga workshops with Yoga asanas and postural releases for voice, Chakra-clearing meditation with chanting Solfege notes (swaras) and/or mantras, OMkar Chanting, body scanning meditation practice etc. 

What kind of songs can people expect to hear at the program ? 

In Surmayee Shaam, we will be presenting selected melodious and peppy songs of Bollywood ranging from retro classics to some contemporary ones including Ghazals and some classical fusion numbers, medleys and mashups.  The music is all live instruments with professional and seasoned musicians and singers. We are re-creating songs in our original way, we hope to engage the audience and get you connected to the songs as most of the songs are popular numbers.  
Expect to dance and sing along at times! 

You also have had a career separate from music. Could you tell us about that ?

I have had a career as a Structural Engineer with background in Seismic Analysis and Retrofit of multi-storeyed buildings/bridges and was last working with IBM in Software product development.  I really enjoy mentoring and coaching kids whether it be Science, Engineering basics or Music.  I am also pursuing going back to school to teach elementary school science and music.  Lots of other things on bucket list too!  :-)

Do you have any special message for our viewers?

Please do come to this concert and support us for this special cause.  It would mean a lot to the team. The best part is that lots of kids from our community are involved.

The music will be melodious, creative and a lot of fun. 

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