Indian Cancer Society organised its annual fundraising event a ‘Concert for Hope’ with a brilliant performance by well known vocalist Sonam Kalra and her band called “Sonam Kalra & The Sufi Gospel Project”. Notwithstanding the fact that it was a week day, Stein Auditorium at India Habitat Centre was packed to its capacity with audience in large numbers who were there to attend the concert as well as participate in the awareness initiative by the Cancer Society.
On this occasion Smt. Gursharan Kaur (wife of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh. Manmohan Singh) was the Chief Guest while Smt. Elizabeth Anthony (wife of Hon’ble Defence Minister) was the guest of honour. Smt. Jyotsna Govil (Hony. Secy. Indian Cancer Society), Smt. Shanno Khurana (renowned vocalist) along with volunteers and many others were seen enjoying the enthralling performance by the musicians.
For over two hours during the concert, vocalist Sonam Kalra and her band members had the audience in rapt attention with their unique and spiritual music. Sonam’s meditative voice created a trance like environment while Alex Fernandes on the piano, Rajesh & Ritesh Prasanna on flute, Tarit Pal on Percussion, Parvez Hussain on tabla, Amar Sangam on guitar& singer Akshay Deodhar who came specially from Mumbai for the concert, were wonderful accompanists.
The programme began with the Hony. secretary of the Indian Cancer Society Jyotsna Govil speaking on the need for more awareness on this deadly disease, followed by traditional lamp lighting and a felicitation ceremony of some cancer survivors after which ‘Sonam Kalra & The Sufi Gospel Project’ took over the evening.
Sonam began with ‘Ik Onkar…’ followed by a Persian Poem which she had composed into a soulful piece of music- ‘Man Manam.’. The audience swayed to her music as she sang ’Chal Bulleya..’ - a piece by Bulleh Shah which talks of brotherhood and equality. After this Sonam Kalra & Akshay Deodhar beautifully sang two songs that they wrote and specially composed for the Concert of Hope called, ‘Handful of Gold, Heart full of Hope..’ & ‘We All Need A Little Light..’.
While paying tribute to her parents Sonam presented ‘Chalahoon Sakhi Wahin Des..’ followed by another song inspired by Ray Charles’ ’Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So..’ in which Sonam provided an opportunity to showcase the talent of her fellow musicians and they didn’t disappoint the gathering.
Upon request of the audience Sonam also sang a Christmas song- ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’. Perhaps it is true that extraordinary artists keep their best for the last and that is what Sonam did. Their composition of Baba Bulle Shah’s kalaam with an Irish touch to it ‘Alfat in bin Un bin An bin Nukta Yaar Padhaya..’ was indeed incredible – The Sur-laya-taal as well as fantastic jugalbandhis between Sonam and her accompanying artists captivated the audience.
After a soulful journey of two hours of uplifting music the concert concluded with the audience giving a standing ovation to Sonam and her musicians.
The choice of songs displayed an in-depth research into sacred poetry of all faiths and her rich, soulful voice, evidently trained over the years, easily transcended the territories of English gospels, Sikh hymns and Hindu bhajans. All through the concert, quotations pertinent to each song that Sonam sang were projected on a big screen in the auditorium. This helped the audience connect with the music even more.
“This cause is close to my heart as my mother fought cancer very bravely- she was what I call a Cancer Samurai. I do this for her and for all those people and families dealing with cancer”, said Sonam.
“For this Concert of Hope, we will present a mix of Indian and Western compositions that symbolise hope, a brighter tomorrow, happiness, strength and the importance of believing that faith can overcome all hurdles.”
The brainchild of Sonam Kalra, The Sufi Gospel Project blends the many voices of faith to create one voice. Sonam’s music certainly showed the philosophy that she is trying to share through it- that different religions can also coexist in blissful harmony.
The aim of this concert was to highlight the issues surrounding a wide spectrum disease like cancer and the proceeds will go towards Indian Cancer Society’s goal of spreading awareness and cancer screening at very nominal rates to the general public of Delhi NCR region.
“We work towards reducing the incidence of Cancer and musicians like Sonam is part of the initiative. Such musical interventions help us spread hope that cancer is curable if detected early,” said Jyotsna Govil.