A Musical Odyssey
November 17, 2001

From a short stint in playback singing for a Punjabi film Mirza Sahiba to a visiting teacher in School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, itís been a long and fulfilling safar for young vocalist Sunanda Sharma.

A musical journey, which she says, has no manzil. For the uninitiated, Sunanda is a vocalist in Hindustani classical music of the Banaras Gharana and has been trained under the tutelage of Padma Bhushan Girija Devi.

For Sunanda, who did her Master's in Indian classical music from Punjab University, the journey began at Dah in Himachal at the age of five, under her father Sudarshan Sharma's guidance. "While my first Guru is my father, it was under a traditional guru-shishya parampara for eight years under my Guru Girija Devi that I trained in Khayal, Tappa, Thumri and other forms of singing styles unique to the gharana," Sunanda recounts.

While the City Beautiful was one of the stopovers on this journey how did this safar start? Sunanda ponders, closes her eyes and then in that mesmerising, crystal-clear voice says, "I was always fascinated with the Banaras Gharana, and as a child whenever I was asked what I would like to be when I grew up, the answer was always the same-classical singer." It was by 'favour of luck' that her Guru, with whom she stayed for eight years, spotted her at the Harvallabh Sangeet Sammelan in Jalandhar.

Sunanda has performed worldwide, at Asian Music Circuit concerts under Y2k series abroad, taught Indian classical music in London University and released a solo album Dharohar by Times Music; all the while enthralling, captivating and capturing audiences of various age groups.

While this journey sounds like music to the ears, for Sunanda it's been a whole lot of riyaaz, dedication and support from her Guru, who is also her biggest critic." I hope to carry on the true Banaras Gharana tradition and pass it on to the generations to come," she says. While the dream may have come true, this artiste's musical journey has just begun, with miles to go before the manzil comes. On the way, Sunanda hopes to visit her two homes soon, "My Guru's home is my first," she says, as she prepares to get ready for a performance at Planet M, for which she is in the city.