Sohini Alam

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Sohini Alam
Native name
সোহিনী আলম
BornLondon, England
Occupation(s)Singer
InstrumentsVocals
Associated actsKhiyo, Lokkhi Terra, Komola Collective, GRRRL

Sohini Alam (Bengali: সোহিনী আলম) is a British singer of Bangladeshi descent.[1] She sings in the bands Khiyo,[2] Lokkhi Terra, and GRRRL.[3] 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 [4] and is currently touring internationally with dancer/choreograher Akram Khan's show Until the Lions.

Early life[edit]

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 there until she was 17.[5] She comes from a musical family and was trained by her mother Hiron Alam and by her aunts Jannat Ara and Ferdous Ara, leading Bangladeshi exponents of Nazrul Sangeet. She has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Angelo State University in the United States.

Career[edit]

Sohini Alam (2nd from left) on stage at Ronnie Scott's

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. In Until the Lions, she sings in multiple languages including Tagalog, Azerbaijani, and Old French. In 2018, Alam appeared on the British Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration list of influential British Bangladeshis.

Bands[edit]

As lead singer of Kishon Khan's Afro-Cuban-Bengali band Lokkhi Terra, Alam sang at the closing ceremony of the South Asian Games[6] in Dhaka in 2010 and at the Dhaka World Music Festival in 2011. With Lokkhi Terra, she performed at WOMAD[7] 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[8] 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."[9]

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 critical acclaim and international radio airplay. Khiyo opened for Shayan Chowdhury Arnob at his 2008 concert in London, organised by Drishtipat.[10] Khiyo's first release was its version of Rabindranath Tagore's Amar Shonar Bangla in March 2012.[11] 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.[12] In April 2013, Khiyo performed at the Southbank Centre's Purcell Room as part of the Alchemy Festival.[13]

In 2016, she was part of Voices of the Revolution. This project was put together by In Place of War (IPOW), a global organisation that supports artistic creativity as a tool for positive change. The following year, IPOW created GRRRL, an electronic music collaboration directed by Laima Leyton. Besides Alam, GRRRL's eclectic mix of influential artists includes Mercury Prize-winning rapper Speech Debelle, Queen of Brazilian Dancehall Lei Di Dai, Zimbabwean rapper AWA, Noella Wiyaala, and electronic artist/synth player Afrodeutsche.[14] GRRRL was voted Best Live Act of Shambala Festival 2017 and performed at the closing celebrations of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia's Gold Coast.[15]

Music for Dance, Theatre, and Film[edit]

Alam worked with composer Jocelyn Pook for Akram Khan, recording vocals for his Olivier Award-winning dance piece DESH.[16] Her work on the DESH soundtrack was reviewed favourably, and she then went on to provide live vocals for Khan's show Until the Lions with composer Vincenzo Lamagna. The celebrated show premiered at the Roundhouse in London in January 2016 before starting an international tour that will end in late 2018.

Her other vocals for dance include Akademi's Song of the City, performed at the Southwark Playhouse in 2011 and more recent work with Kuchipudi dancer Arunima Kumar.[17]

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[18]

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."[19]

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."[20]

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."[21]

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

She sang for the documentary DOTS and for the soundtracks of two films: The Last Thakur (2008)[22] and Life Goes On (2009).

Radio, TV, Stage Shows, and Other Collaborations[edit]

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 Woman's Hour.[23][24] 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. 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. In 2010, she performed at the annual Boishakhi Mela, London's biggest celebration of Bengali culture.

In 2017, Alam performed with Mercury Prize-winning musician Talvin Singh at the Jazz Cafe in London. 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.[25][26][27] 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.[28][29] 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.

Personal life[edit]

In December 2015, Alam married lyricist and guitarist, Asif Asgar Ranjan, of popular Bangladeshi band Arbovirus at Dhaka's Rose Garden Palace.[30]

Discography[edit]

Alam is featured on the following albums and compilations:

Album Project Year
Khiyo Khiyo 2015
Che Guava's Rickshaw Diaries Lokkhi Terra 2012
London's Calling Lokkhi Terra 2012
Nari BRAC 2012
Desh Soundtrack 2011
Life Goes On Soundtrack 2010
A Beginner's Guide To India Lokkhi Terra 2010
No Visa Required Lokkhi Terra 2010

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weekend Bengali with Anwarul Hoque, BBC Asian Network". 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Khiyo at Tara Studio". OffWestEnd. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  3. ^ "Lokkhi Terra at Ronnie Scott's". Ronnie Scott's. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Komola Collective"
  5. ^ Chowdhury, Promiti Prova (1 February 2014). "Sohini Alam: Musically speaking…". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Lokkhi Terra and Guests at South Asian Games Closing Ceremony". NME.com. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Lokkhi Terra at WOMAD". Woman. 29 July 2011. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Afro-Cuban All Stars and Lokkhi Terra at the Barbican Centre". Barbican. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  9. ^ Cornwell, Jane (9 August 2012). "Top of the World Review: Lokkhi Terra – Che Guavac's Rickshaw Diaries". Songlines. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Unheard Voices Tour". Drishtipat. 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Khiyo's Amar Shonar Bangla". Khiyo. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Rising Stars – Khiyo"
  13. ^ "Khiyo at the Southbank Centre".
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ "DESH (2011)". Akram Khan Company. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Song of the City at Southwark Playhouse". London SE1. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  18. ^ Gardner, Lyn (1 October 2010). "People's Romeo". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Review of Dick Whittington Goes Bollywood – The Stage"
  20. ^ "Miser Review – UK Theatre Network"
  21. ^ "Bollywood Cinderella". The Public Reviews. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  22. ^ "The Last Thakur". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Introducing with Tom Robinson". BBC Radio 6. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  24. ^ "Sohini Alam Interview with Ameet Chana". BBC Asian Network. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  25. ^ "Arun Ghosh ft. Sohini Alam at the Tagore Festival". Dartington. 7 April 2011. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  26. ^ "Arun Ghosh ft. Sohini Alam at Fusion Asia". Fusion Asia. 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  27. ^ "Arun Ghosh ft. Sohini Alam at Alchemy".
  28. ^ "Sohini Alam and Labik Kamal Concert, Tara Studio". Chilli Tickets. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  29. ^ "BRAC releases star-studded musical album". BRAC. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  30. ^ "Sohini and Ranjan tie the knot". Dhaka Tribune. 4 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.

External links[edit]