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Singing in different languages is a welcome challenge for me: Suzanne D’Mello

In an exclusive interview with DB Post the 'Mahiya' singer talks about her experience venturing into voice-coaching for musical productions.

New Delhi: Suzanne D’Mello has, for over 25 years, lent her voice to a large number of songs across Bollywood, regional film industries, jingles, and independent projects.

Her hit song ‘Mahiya’ from Awaarapan rocketed Suzanne’s career, and she, later on, collaborated with AR Rahman for various projects including Slumdog Millionaire. Her versatile voice has over the recent years been part of large-scale Broadway-style musical productions with Disney International like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Aladin’ — which is presently running in the capital — as a voice coach and vocal arranger.

She has also sung in several different languages over the years. Which does she find the toughest to pronounce and perform on? “Singing in different languages is a welcome challenge for me. But among all the languages I’ve sung, Oriya and Malayalam (primarily for ad jingle) are the toughest so far. I’ve enjoyed singing in French, Spanish, Swahili, Bengali, Chinese, Nepalese, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Konkani, Portuguese, Latin and of course Hindi. The toughest to perform live for me would be Spanish! As sultry and smooth as the language sounds, I particularly find the words slightly heavy on the tongue.. but still- I love singing in Spanish,” explained the singer.

The singer had taken a break from playback after ‘Wafa ne bewafa’ in Teraa Suroor (2016) since she was exploring other areas of music (voice coaching and songwriting). “As far as voice coaching is concerned, many have already heard my work with the cast of Disney’s Broadway-styled musical in India — ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and with ‘Aladdin’! I’ve received an overwhelming response and I tutor privately now as well. It took me a couple of years but, I’m happy I took some time off and found stability and more importantly joy in teaching. And now that I have set up that part of my business, I’m ready to jump back into playback and regular live performances,” said the ‘Chiggy wiggy’ singer.

“I had already worked with Disney during ‘Beauty and The Beast’ and the reviews about the singing performances were overwhelming. Nobody ever believed that my actors were singing live! And I feel proud that I was able to accomplish that on my first official voice coaching project. The US Team was impressed with my work, and when they were planning auditions for Aladdin, Disney US was more than sure of having me coach the Aladdin cast. Their confidence in me boosted my confidence too!” recalled an elated Suzanne on how she bagged the current project.

“The entire cast has had some musical training or the other – be it Hindustani or Carnatic classical or even Gospel. We used various breathing techniques coupled with physical exercises to build their vocal stamina and worked on expanding their vocal range to ensure their singing styles communicated the music to the audiences in the way it was written,” Suzanne explained the procedure of training the ‘Aladin’ cast.

Talking about the songs that are closest to her, Suzanne said, “There are so many songs that I’ve sung and had the pleasure of working on… I do have a few favourites that will always be close to my heart. In a random order- Latika’s theme (Slumdog Millionaire), Jhoom (Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena), Surili Ankhiyon Waale (Veer), Aye Bachchu (Ghajni), Mahiya (Awaarapan), Mazhai Varum Arikuri (Veppam) and my list can go on and on and on!” the singer said.

“Currently, I’m collaborating with a few producers and lyricists. Also, now I’m finally starting my own YouTube channel. So, that’s another project I’m currently preparing content for,” smiled Suzanne, who is hoping to release at least two singles by the end of this year.

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Lahari Basu

Lahari Basu is a Senior Sub-editor for DBPOST and is based in Delhi. Contact this editor at lahari.basu@dbcorp.in.