New Delhi: Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don’t understand the language that you’re singing in, they still know good music when they hear it, says Lou Rawls.
Chitra Roy, the woman who enraptured thousands of music lovers with her mellifluous voice has today become a name synonymous with excellence in music.
The musical journey of Ms. Roy began at the tender age of 4. She started her formal classical training under the renowned veteran- Pt. T. L. Rana at the age of 6.
Hailing from a humble Bengali family, Ms. Roy always had an inclination towards arts and culture. She not only topped the University with a gold medal in Music (Hons.) but also performed exceptionally well in her M. Phil in Indian Classical music.
Her higher pursuit in the field of music was under the guidance of Shri Laxman Krishna Rao Pandit,of the Gwalior Gharana.
She had once said, ‘I always want to hit the correct note, no matter how difficult the ‘tan’ is, I don’t sit at ease until and unless I sing it perfectly.’
Chitra Roy has won many accolades for her exemplary contribution in the field of music which include Pride of Nation Excellence Award 2005 by the Indian Society of Creative Arts, Vishalakshi Award 2005 by The Art of Living Foundation and 1st Prize at the prestigious All India Radio Music Competition in 1978.
It’s been over two decades now that Ms. Roy is associated with ‘The Art of Living’ foundation. She has released many musical albums under the banner of the organization such as Nivedan, Geetanjali, Uma Maheshwara, Manthan, Naman, Manamohna, Mere Pritama, which have captivated thousands of music lovers all across the globe.
Mr. Roy has composed and created many grand musical symphonies for the events organized by the Art of Living foundation. She was the one who created the grand orchestra where 8,500 musicians played different types of musical instruments in the World Cultural Festival in 2016 in New Delhi.
In 2007, she envisaged, composed and created a grand musical symphony of over 200 musicians in Indian Classical Music for the first time. Art of Living on January 12th 2016 hosted a historic symphony – Antarnaad – in Pune, bringing over 2750 Indian classical vocalists together on one platform in which she played a vital role.
In 2011, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar organized an event- Bramhnaad- where 1,200 sitarists performed together on one platform, in a first-of-its-kind concert in Delhi, India. The whole music was composed and conceptualized by Ms. Roy.
Not only singing, Chitra Roy is also a lyricist and composer par excellence. Her live musical concerts have left the audiences spellbound. Elegant and endearing, she personifies serenity with beauty. Her songs take the audience to a different space altogether, giving them a glimpse of bliss, where they seek solace and inner peace.
A Jagjit Singh and Asha Bhosle fan, Chitra Roy is proficient in singing songs in different languages which enabled her to transcend regional barriers.
Chitra Roy, speaking exclusively to Linking Nation’s Sneha Kapoor, shared her experience in the field of music, spirituality among other things.
Q. You have started singing from a tender age of 4. How has your journey as a musician been so far?
CR: It has been a beautiful and gratifying journey of discovering and expressing myself through music. My voice is a gift from the Divine and my songs are an offering to the same source.
Q. You did your M.Phil in music. Did you ever tried to become a Bollywood playback singer or got any offer as such?
CR: Several opportunities came my way. But, life took a different turn with the Art of Living. The joy that one gets on this path makes the glitz and glamour of Bollywood look pale!
Q. It’s been more than two decades now that you are associated with The Art of Living foundation. Tell us something about your journey in this path?
CR: This journey is a blessing. The joy on this path is unparalleled.
Q. You have led many mega-musical symphonies for the Art of Living which includes World Cultural Festival, Brahmnaad, Antarnaad etc. How difficult is it to bring such huge number of musicians on one single stage?
CR: All these mega cultural events are a uniting source. When I look back, the World Culture Festival (WCF) fills me with wonderment. Many unforeseen obstacles cropped up and every obstacle melted away. His Holiness Guru Dev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a source of inspiration for all of us.
From coordination to synchronization it was a long road. From grey skies to shining rainbows it was a beautiful journey. In the end, everything fell into place- like it was meant to be. He says testing times make you realize you are much bigger and that you can overcome that. The way WCF came together, it was an illustrative and inspiring example of that.
Q. Your live concerts have captivated thousands of listeners. How does it feel to perform in front of live audience?
CR: For me we are all souls are seeking the same ultimate. We are all travelers on the same road. If my songs can connect someone to that source, my gift of music has served its purpose.
Q. Who is your favorite singer and which veteran musician did you always dream of working with?
CR: I find the depth in Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya’s music very touching. I like Shreya Ghosal among the new generation of singers.
Q. You have a huge fan base both within and outside Art of Living. Has it been difficult for you to live up to their expectations?
CR: I am overwhelmed with the love that I have received from people across countries and religions. Words such as expectations sound very loaded. I am here to offer my gift of music for a higher purpose. This is the path of joy and celebration. Everyone is welcome to join in.
Q: How do you assess your own career as a singer?
CR: My goals are different from most singers. Music is my spiritual journey. What music means to me and what I want to do with my music is very different from other musicians. In this journey, I could not have asked for more. It is not about me anymore. It is about a higher reality, a greater good, and a larger cause.
Q. The Art of Living is coming up with its own musical institute. Tell us something about ‘ALAAP’.
CR: Art of Living Academy of Music and Performing Arts is an academy like no other. I will serve as the Dean for the academy. It is an academy like no other. It is music and beyond. It is a much-awaited answer for many seekers. It is going to be an excellent talent academy for many learners.
Q. Lastly, what would be your message for the young talents who want to pursue their career in music?
CR: For aspiring young musicians, my advice would be, that, one needs to strengthen one’s base. “Culturing the voice” is very important before one aspires to be a musician.
Interview: Sneha Kapoor
Story: Victor Dasgupta
(Video courtesy: The Art of Living)