When the refreshing breeze from the peaks of Himachal mountain ranges and the soft lapping waves of the Ganges in Benaras come to a confluence a magic spell of spirituality and romanticism is cast that spreads its fragrance for all to enjoy. Sunanda Sharma brings this effect musically with her mellifluous rendition of Benaras Gharana style of gayaki.
Carrying forward the legacy of the legendary vocalist of Benaras Gharana, the highly revered Dr. Vidushi Girija Devi, a Padma Vibhushan awardee and a doyen of Indian classical vocal music, Sunanda is a leading vocalist amongst the young generation.
The salubrious environment of her small native village in Himachal Pradesh called Dah near Pathankot was ideal for Sunanda to develop her natural flair for singing as she comes from a musical family. She started training under the guidance of her father Pandit Sudarshan Sharma when she was hardly five year old and went on to graduate in music and thereafter topping off her academic achievements with a Gold Medal for her Masters in Indian classical vocal music from Punjab University.
The musical journey reached another milestone when Padam Vibhushan Dr. Girija Devi took Sunanda under her wings after spotting her at the Hariballabh Sangeet Sammelan, Jallandhar. This was the beginning of a training in the Guru-shishya parampara under which Sunanda lived with her guru in Banaras and Kolkata for 9 years. While staying with her guru she was also fortunate to get blessings of eminent legends like Pandit Kishan Maharaj and Ustad Bismillah Khan that has added distinct flavour of the musical grandeur of the temple town of Kashi into her Singing.
Sunanda has evolved musically into an artist with a perfect blend of shastra and bhav paksh in her gayaki which is evident in the many of her solo performances, lecture-demonstrations, workshops in India and abroad. Sunanda has also got the privilege of being a visiting teacher at SOAS, University and Royal Academy of Music in London since 2000.
Though her forte lies in khayal, tappa, thumri, dadra, chaiti, Sunanda has expanded her talent and repertoire that includes Punjabi, Himachali folk and various devotional styles. She carries in her music rich authentic folk tradition of hills (Himachal Pradesh and Jammu region) and Punjab. Her training in classical music brings in subtleties in her rendering of age old village songs. Himachal Pradesh she ably represents its rich and varied natural music.
Media foreign as well as Indian has not lagged behind in heaping accolades on this irrepressible, versatile artist. In 2018 Foundation ‘Giorgio Cini’ in Venice says that “She is best known for her performances of classical and semi-classical genres”. In 2017 ‘The Global Times’ states that Sunanda Sharma is “The queen of melodies”. In 2015 “Theatre de la Ville” states that “The Temple of the Voice trained in Banaras with the illustrious Girija Devi, Sunanda carries all the vocal legacy, in suppleness and limpidity”. A popular magazine ‘Swagat’ in 2004 acknowledges that “Sunanda Sharma has a mellifluous voice and a breathtaking range of scale- qualities that have made her a torchbearer of the gharana”. Listening to her recital at the World Voice Festival, Germany, in 2002 wrote, “Song flowing like a well”. In 2001 ‘The Financial Express’ mentioned in its columns, “Keeping aloft flame of Banaras Gharana”. In 2000 the newspaper ‘FLASH’ states “like the skylark immortalized by Shelley, the voice of Sunanda Sharma has an ethereal quality that transcends beyond time and space”. The list of appreciation is endless.
Sunanda formed a society named “Living Music Society for Arts” under which she has been bringing together different genres of music with beautiful concepts.
A proud Guru Smt. Girija Devi in an interview to The Indian Express summed up the accomplishments of her disciple as, “My legacy will be taken forward through the beautiful thumris, chaitis and kajris sung by Sunanda. She has amazing control over her taans”. Praise coming from her Guru is the best compliment a disciple can get.