When Indian-American singer Kabir released his debut single Got Me Hooked, he was anxious how well it will be accepted. The Brown Debonair as he has been nicknamed by the US media, Kabir has a very unique silvery voice compared to traditional Indian singers abroad.
A fortnight after his release, he is a happy man. Got me Hooked has not only been well-received, but has earned rave reviews in the American, Canadian as well as British media. Winning hearts of the huge Asian community as well as on the mainstream music circuit, its fast emerging a hot favourite with many radio stations playing it several times a day.
Written and produced by Damen Heyward and Juan ‘Majik’ Peters, the number has a set of hypnotic rhythms with the video having a very chilled-out feel. This has also managed to win Kabir a strong female fan-following.
“I should admit I was a bit nervous before the release, but the response from radio stations and social media has been heartening,” quips Kabir. Moreover, his video has steadily been growing in popularity on YouTube with consistent organic views and lots of positive comments, which has brought more cheer.
The singer narrates an incident when he recently visited an Indie club in Brooklyn and the DJ immediately recognized him. “The club managed to get hold of the number from YouTube and began playing it, announcing my presence. It was a touching and overwhelming moment for me. They made me feel like a rockstar,” recalls the debutant.
Not many are aware that Kabir actually belongs to the family of Partap Brothers with a rich musical heritage. Music runs in his blood, with some of his family members being veterans of traditional spiritual music and ambassadors of the Sikh community in North America. This makes it all the more interesting to see how Kabir will steer his musical journey from here.
Indian-American Brooklyn boy Kabir worked as a financial analyst in New York for the multi-billion-dollar company Bloomberg LP. But when it came to his dreams, he was man enough to quit his high-flying job to pursue his passion for singing. Released this week, his debut single Got Me Hooked, is sure managing to catch attention.
Written and produced by Damen Heyward and Juan ‘Majik’ Peters, Got Me Hooked is a peppy pop number with electrifying beats and racy lyrics. The music video reveals Kabir in a suave and stylish avatar. With a set of hypnotic rhythms and silvery voice, he comes across as a chilled-out ladies man out to conquer hearts.
Kabir’s voice has the pitch of a Punjabi jat combined with a soothing touch of flowing melody. A very unusual sound from what we are used to hear from Asian-American singers. And that is also what makes him stand out.
He has a rich musical heritage that includes the Partap Brothers; veterans of traditional spiritual music and ambassadors of the Sikh community in North America.
It turns out that over the years, classic and contemporary American songs have shaped Kabir’s sound along with traditional Indian music, reflecting his varying influences even on a pop track.
That’s an interesting personality-sound combo we have here. Now we’ll have to wait and watch how well it hooks the listeners.
Kailash Kher and Sufi music are synonymous with each other. Kher seems to be an ideal name composers look up to, when they want a playback voice for their Sufi songs. Little wonder that Fauzia Arshi, music composer and director of the upcoming movie Hogaya Dimaagh Ka Dahi, chose Kher to sing her first Sufi composition. In an exclusive interview, the ‘Allah Key Bandey’ singer shares his connection with God, Sufism and his love for music.
You are known for songs that start with the word ‘Maula’, including the famous song from Delhi 6, composed by legendary A.R.Rahman. Is there any connection in such songs?
I had a ‘Maula’ song in The Rising too. You know, Sufi songs are spiritual meditative numbers. You cannot place such songs in a movie for the sake of entertainment. You cannot use the term ‘Maula’ for a random reason. Naqli duniya mein asli kaam karne ke liye aapko asli hona padega.
Is ‘Maula’ your favourite word?
Ha ha. I think, the Maula likes my voice. Do you know that I have also sung Hanuman Chalisa for Aadesh Shrivastava and a Gujarati prayer for Devi Maa etc. In our country, whenever you sing songs related to the almighty, you need to be careful. You will be accepted only if you sound genuine.
Yes! Even your new song ‘Maula Maula’ from the movie Hogaya Dimaagh Ka Dahi is rendered soulfully. So what’s the difference between this one and the other Sufi songs?
It is impossible to compare. You connect with the almighty when you meditate or pray. And for me, singing these songs, is like praying. Each such song is an experience on its own. I think I am blessed to belong to this world of entertainment, where I can express freely while experiencing soulful melodies.
With this movie, we are adding a new face to the music industry. Tell us about the filmmaker-cum-music director Fauzia Arshi?
Fauzia is an extremely talented person; a multi-faceted lady. She plays the guitar, is a painter, and sings and writes beautifully. She has also directed the film and co-produced it along with media maverick Santosh Bhartiya. Fauzia is unique in her own way. And she has used her talents very nicely and effortlessly for this film. She has God’s blessings in abundance and I wish her the best for future endeavors.
Talking about the new ‘Maula’ song in this film, it has a rare combination of lyricist-stalwarts like Allama Iqbal, Amir Khusro and Krishan Bihari Noor. Does that make it any more special?
Absolutely. Just to give readers a brief, Allama Iqbal is the person who wrote Sare Jahaan Se Accha, Amir Khusro needs no introduction, and there would have been a vacuum without Krishan Bihari Noor in the world of Urdu literature. They were big philosophers and thinkers of their time. I am proud and excited to have been able to render my voice to some of their writings; especially, in a time when we are often surrounded by sub-standard lyrics which lack depth.
To add glamour, the song is performed in the film by Shahbaz Khan; who happens to be the son of the legendary Ustad Amir Khan.
Yes, isn’t that amazing? Shahbaz has played a villain in so many films, but not many know that he comes from such a great musical family. Even I was not aware about his family background before I read about it in a magazine once. I am so happy he has performed on my song. His acting has justified my voice on screen.
What is it that makes you so endearing with Sufism?
Sufism is zindagi to me. Some aspects like purity, love and beauty are naturally attractive all over the world. They don’t have a language. They are like a mystery. And much that is Godly and blissfully mysterious can be considered Sufi.
What about your next album?
I have been working on a new one, to release in about a month or two.
Finally, what does Hogaya Dimaagh Ka Dahi imply to you? Does it ever happen to you?
I would say, what applies more to me is dimaagh kam, jyada dahi. Ha ha. I am dimaagh rahit. I don’t think much. I am a man with no plans. I live life as it comes. But let me tell you, Hogaya Dimaagh Ka Dahi is made with a sensible mind. It underlines a lot of stuff we go through in our lives in a super comic manner. Everyone who watches it will identify with many situations it portrays. I have my fingers crossed for the movie and its music too. The score is fabulous and I’m hoping it scales the top of the music charts.