|Native name||সোহিনী আলম|
|Associated acts||Khiyo, Lokkhi Terra, Komola Collective|
Sohini Alam (Bengali: সোহিনী আলম) is a British singer of Bangladeshi descent. She is lead singer of the bands Khiyo and Lokkhi Terra. As a vocalist, Alam has performed internationally on stage, radio, and television and worked on music for dance, theatre, and film. Alam is a founding member of the arts company Komola Collective.
Alam was born in London, England and was brought up there until the age of nine. After her mother died she moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh and lived here until she was 17. She comes from a musical family and was trained by her mother Hiron Alam and by her aunts Jannat Ara and Ferdous Ara. The latter is a leading Bangladeshi exponent of Nazrul Sangeet. She has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Angelo State University in the United States.
Alam is trained primarily in Nazrul Sangeet but has since branched out into folk, Rabindra Sangeet and contemporary music. While she sings mainly in Bengali, she has also sung in English, Spanish, Hindi, and Urdu. She sang in Tamil and Roma for a collaboration with the Mongooses Musical Playbox and in Yoruba for Lokkhi Terra's CubAfrobeat collaboration with Dele Sosimi.
As lead singer of Kishon Khan's Afro-Cuban-Bengali band Lokkhi Terra, Alam sang at the closing ceremony of the South Asian Games in Dhaka in 2010 and at the Dhaka World Music Festival in 2011. With Lokkhi Terra, she performed at WOMAD in 2011 and 2015, played twice on the main stage of Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, and opened for the Afro-Cuban All Stars at the Barbican Centre in 2012. Alam is featured on Lokkhi Terra's albums, and in a review of Che Guava's Rickshaw Diaries, the world music magazine Songlines wrote: "This good-natured London-based collective are now widely acknowledged as an international force to be reckoned with."
Alam formed the band Khiyo with Oliver Weeks in 2007. Other band members include Ben Heartland. Khiyo gives traditional Bengali music a contemporary London sound. The band's first album received widespread critical acclaim and international radio airplay. Khiyo opened for Arnob at his 2008 concert in London, organised by Drishtipat. Khiyo's first release was its version of Rabindranath Tagore's Amar Shonar Bangla in March 2012. Release of the song's music video in December 2012 made the band national news in most major Bangladeshi newspapers, on TV channels and radio as some of the country's leading musicians began to discuss the band's interpretation of the song, which is also the national anthem of Bangladesh. In April 2013, Khiyo performed at the Southbank Centre's Purcell Room as part of the Alchemy Festival.
Music for dance, theatre and film
Alam worked with composer Jocelyn Pook for dancer/choreographer Akram Khan, singing in his Olivier Award-winning dance piece DESH. Her work on the DESH soundtrack was reviewed favourably. She also provided vocals for Akademi's Song of the City, performed at the Southwark Playhouse in 2011.
Alam has been involved in several theatre productions as a vocalist, notably:
- Birangona: Women of War, an Offie-nominated Komola Collective production featuring testimonies of the survivors of wartime rape during the Bangladesh War of Independence
- Kanjoos, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Tara Arts' adaptation of Molière's The Miser, which premiered at Tara in 2012 before touring in the UK in 2013
- Dick Whittington Goes Bollywood, Harvey Virdi and Tara Arts' Christmas pantomime, staged at Tara in 2012
- Bollywood Cinderella, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Tara Arts' Christmas pantomime, staged at Tara in 2011
- The People's Romeo, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which premiered at Tara in 2010 before touring the UK
Alam was acclaimed for her work in almost every review of each of these four productions. In its review of Dick Whittington Goes Bollywood, the Stage wrote: Alam creates a transcendent soundscape that taps as much into the spirituality as the silliness of this time of year."
UK Theatre Network described her performance in Kanjoos – The Miser: "singer Sohini Alam takes us to a different level as her rich voice encompasses everything from jazz and scat singing and pop to traditional Indian songs."
The Public Reviews wrote of her in Bollywood Cinderella: "the key person in all of this was the singer...Sohini Alam, who sang for every single character as they mimed the words. What a powerful voice and what great use of styles, tone and register."
She has also appeared in several other productions including:
- Just So, an opera with a libretto by Farrukh Dhondy based on Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, which premiered at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival at Riverside Studios in 2012
- A Golden Age, a stage adaptation of Tahmima Anam's award-winning novel performed at the Southbank Centre in 2010
- The Demon's Revenge, based on the Bengali epic poem Meghnad Bodh Kavya staged at Tara in 2010
Radio, television, stage shows and collaborations
Alam has been featured on BBC Radio a number of times, on programmes such as World on 3, The Verb, Introducing with Tom Robinson, and Nadia Ali's and Tommy Sandhu's shows on the BBC Asian Network. She has also appeared on BBC London, BBC Radio Bengali Service, and on BBC 5 during their coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.
She has appeared in television programmes in the UK and Bangladesh. Her performance with Lokkhi Terra during the South Asian Games was broadcast across South Asia. She has sung on stage in Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, and Spain. As part of the musical group Amra Kojon, she performed in two major concerts in Boston in 2003 and 2008, and in their London show in 2007. She also took part in a number of Drishtipat Creative events between 2006 and 2009. In 2010, she performed at the annual Boishakhi Mela, London's biggest celebration of Bengali culture.
Alam has collaborated with British-Asian clarinettist Arun Ghosh at events such as the Dartington Tagore Festival, the Fusion Asia Festival, and the Alchemy Festival. She has also worked with Bangladeshi musician Labik Kamal Gaurob, presenting a joint concert at Tara Arts in 2010 and singing on the album Nari, released by the well-known Bangladeshi NGO BRAC. She has worked with Sajib Azad on an electro-acoustic project called After Art and was collaborating with State of Bengal on a new album until the death of Sam Zaman.
In December 2015, Alam married lyricist and guitarist, Asif Asgar Ranjan, of popular Bangladeshi band Arbovirus at Dhaka's Rose Garden Palace.
Alam is featured on the following albums and compilations:
|Che Guava's Rickshaw Diaries||Lokkhi Terra||2012|
|London's Calling||Lokkhi Terra||2012|
|Life Goes On||Soundtrack||2010|
|A Beginner's Guide To India||Lokkhi Terra||2010|
|No Visa Required||Lokkhi Terra||2010|
- "Weekend Bengali with Anwarul Hoque, BBC Asian Network". 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Khiyo at Tara Studio". OffWestEnd. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Lokkhi Terra at Ronnie Scott's". Ronnie Scott's. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Komola Collective"
- Chowdhury, Promiti Prova (1 February 2014). "Sohini Alam: Musically speaking…". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- "Lokkhi Terra and Guests at South Asian Games Closing Ceremony". NME.com. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- "Lokkhi Terra at WOMAD". Woman. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Afro-Cuban All Stars and Lokkhi Terra at the Barbican Centre". Barbican. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Cornwell, Jane (9 August 2012). "Top of the World Review: Lokkhi Terra – Che Guavac's Rickshaw Diaries". Songlines. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Unheard Voices Tour". Drishtipat. 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Khiyo's Amar Shonar Bangla". Khiyo. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- "Rising Stars – Khiyo"
- "Khiyo at the Southbank Centre".
- "DESH (2011)". Akram Khan Company. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "Song of the City at Southwark Playhouse". London SE1. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- Gardner, Lyn (1 October 2010). "People's Romeo". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Review of Dick Whittington Goes Bollywood – The Stage"
- "Miser Review – UK Theatre Network"
- "Bollywood Cinderella". The Public Reviews. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "The Last Thakur". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "Introducing with Tom Robinson". BBC Radio 6. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Sohini Alam Interview with Ameet Chana". BBC Asian Network. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Arun Ghosh ft. Sohini Alam at the Tagore Festival". Dartington. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Arun Ghosh ft. Sohini Alam at Fusion Asia". Fusion Asia. 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Arun Ghosh ft. Sohini Alam at Alchemy".
- "Sohini Alam and Labik Kamal Concert, Tara Studio". Chilli Tickets. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "BRAC releases star-studded musical album". BRAC. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Sohini and Ranjan tie the knot". Dhaka Tribune. 4 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.