Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
In Bangla music circle, Sayera Reza is not only a popular name, but she equally enjoys high esteem for contributing in spreading Bangla music amongst music lovers around the world. Though she is permanently residing in the United States, Ms. Sayera maintains regular connections with singers, musicians, music directors, lyricists and members of the music industry in Bangladesh. During her current visit to Bangladesh, Sayera Reza has been regularly performing in various musical events as well as appearing in television channels with her mesmeric voice and wonderful way of performance. To music lovers, Sayera is the Madonna or Nazia Hassan of Bangladesh. Recently she has accorded an exclusive interview to Blitz. Here are the excerpts:
Blitz: In recent days, most of the labels are running after views and viral songs. With such tendencies, they are in most cases giving more emphasis to music videos than the quality of the songs. What is your opinion on this issue?
Sayera: I fully agree that the labels are putting more emphasis on videos than the quality of songs for business purpose. It is putting financial pressure on the relatively new singers as they have to make their own videos at own expense. However, attractive videos does not always make a song hit. We have seen a few lyrical videos also drew huge view count due to the quality of the song and music. Like the old days you don’t have to depend on the labels any more. Social media platforms have given us ample freedom and flexibility to reach to our audience.
Blitz: As a seasoned singer, how much emphasis you give on lyricist and tune?
Sayera: Big time. Lyric and tune are essential aspects of a song. If these two are good, you are already half way there to making a good song. It also makes the job of the composer easy to arrange the music accordingly. As a singer I prefer to have a song complete with music and tune with a guide voice so that I can understand if that song is appropriate for my voice.
Blitz: You have a God-gifted powerful voice and are mesmerizing your audience with your very authentic way of presenting any song. You have mastered both in modern and folk songs. But, personally, what type of songs are your favorite? Modern or folk?
Sayera: Every singer must have their own signatures in terms of their voice, personality, style and art of interacting with their audience. I also have mine. I know I can sing both modern and folk songs as I have learned music since my childhood. But as you probably feel that my voice tone is not like a typical sweet female voice; rather my voice is husky which probably suits more with Sufi and Folk songs. I also love to sing Rock songs. I prefer to fusion my Sufi and Folk songs with Rock flavor, whenever possible.
Blitz: There are around 260 million Bangla-speaking populations around the world. Still, Bangla music isn’t getting a prominent place in the world. Why?
Sayera: There are many reasons. Lack of proper branding, inability/unwillingness to collaborate with international artists, lack of strict enforcement of IPR, lack of proper marketing, syndication and the average quality of cinema are some of reasons for this.
Blitz: In Bangladesh, music industry, particularly labels are suffering due to lack of sponsorship from the large corporates. Even mobile phone operators are reluctant in giving due shares of revenue to those companies. Do you think, the government should take some steps in this regard?
Sayera: I don’t know how much the labels are suffering but the worst sufferers are the artists so far. I am a bright example here. I have numerous superhit songs for which I did not get my due share from the labels. As such, these days I am interested to give my songs to the labels anymore. Yes the Govt should get involved to ensure appropriate rights of all stakeholders.
Blitz: You are residing in the US and during your current Bangladesh trip, you already have performed at a number of places. Are you getting expected response from the audience?
Sayera: Including TV and Stage Shows, so far I performed in 9 places. All of them were fantastic less one stage show. Since I sing mostly Sufi and Folk, therefore, very easily I could connect with the audience of all other shows except that one. I felt that day the audience was split; half of them were loving my Sufi and Folk songs and were requesting for more; whereas, some of them were requesting for songs of Manna De and Shatinath which I do not sing. My co-singer also does not sing their songs. So some of them were little disappointed. I think the organizers have a responsibility here to invite artists as per the mood and taste of the crowd. Most singers would probably prefer to stick to their genre. As the heart specialists would not treat your dental problems.
Blitz: There are more than 36 television channels in Bangladesh and most of those channels are having a special chunk for musical shows. But, there isn’t enough space for airing music videos. Do you think, channels should have chunks for music videos?
Sayera: I think some of the Channels have chunks for MVs. Yes, if possible they should have some chunks for MVs.
Blitz: Please tell us about your childhood and how you had embraced music in your life.
Sayera: I started learning music since I was 5. I learned music in Bangladesh Sishu Academy and Dina Laila Shongit Academy. I also took lessons from Nina Hamid, Pilu Momtaz and Ustad Shamir Chattergy. Music is my love and passion besides being my profession.
Blitz: Are you planning to release any new song during your current Bangladesh visit?
Sayera: I have total 8 unreleased songs. 7 solo and 1 duet Sufi song with Shafi Mondal. The duet song will be released on the 1st week of January 2020 and then the remaining 7 will be released with a gap of 2 to 3 weeks from there on.
Blitz: Any message for the new comers in the music industry?
Sayera: My advice for the new comers would be: Do music if you have it in you. Don’t do it just to become known to people. And if you learn it learn it in a way so that you can perform it live on the stage in front of the audience. With the help of technology, it is not difficult to become a hit artist digitally but you got to prove it live too.