Firstly Happy Women's Day, Sabrina. It is a pleasure to host you. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to publish highlights of your career and personal life.
MI: What would you be doing today if not for this interview?
SP: Packing up my life, as I am moving to Mumbai. I'm happy to be back near the sea and around family again. In 2003, I was here on an administrative project via the design studio I worked at for a period of ten days. Things snowballed from there, and I started to moonlight as a vocal entertainer. So though I quit that job in 2009, I stayed on in Bangalore to continue being an entertainer.
MI: What brought you to Bangalore?
SP: My administrative job with the aforementioned DSP Design Associates.
MI: How did it all start?
SP: I have been singing since I was 4 years old. Through School and Church Choirs and on to small theatre productions. In the 8th grade, I was part of a fun band set up, called Oil & Grease, so named as we used to practice in an old mill and were surrounded by oil and grease stains on the floor. I was the lead female vocalist in the 5 member band and we performed pro-bono and professionally too.
While working in Bangalore with DSP Design, I’d attend live music concerts at venues around the city and met a load of lovely musicians who’d be kind enough to allow me a song or two with them. This turned into doing events with said Bands at various venues across the city as a hobby. In the process, I connected with an old neighbour from Bombay and it turned out that he played for and managed a band. The Revivers. We met at his house where the band used to practice and I sang a few songs for them. The band invited me to join them as the Lead Female Vocalist. 16 years later, I’m still singing with them. The Revivers, as a cover band, have performed all over the city and as well as venues across the country.
As a vocal artist, I MC for events. Host Karaoke at private parties and public venues. I also do voice overs & jingles for ads.
MI: When did you realise you wanted to be a singer?
SP: Since I could speak. Music has always been a part of my life. My family has always enjoyed music and although I have no formal vocal training, and do not understand written music, singing has been a constant.
MI: When did your singing career begin? And long have you been in this profession?
SP: Since I was a child. From school and church choirs, to theatre, to just plain house parties. Post resigning my job, to focus on being a full time parent, I continued to honour my singing commitments and engagements. My passion and hobby turned into an immensely satisfying and fulfilling career.
MI: Tell us something about your career highlights?
SP: In my rather long stint as an entertainer, it has been my honour to perform for the absolutely wonderful Late Dr. APJ Kalam (former President of India). I have been fortunate to meet and perform for various dignitaries and Heads of State, as well as major captains of industry.
MI: Have you composed any songs?
SP: Created in-house anthems for several firms such as Dell, Microsoft, Oracle, Bosch and many more.
MI: What genre of songs do you sing?
SP: Jazz, Swing, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock, Southern Rock, Contemporary Dance, etc.Pretty much anything, apart from Opera & Heavy Metal.
MI: Where do you perform or sing?
SP: Clubs. Corporate Events. Weddings. Private parties.
MI: As a woman, how is the competition in your industry?
SP: Healthy. It’s wonderful being part of an industry where most of us support and encourage each other. We pass on clients/events to each other, without hesitation.
MI: What are the challenges in this career you face?
SP: I think the biggest challenge is the importance of timing. Clients/Event managers will block dates and even after repeated follow up will not release the same. Should the event fall through, they won’t update you and you end up losing other bookings. Another huge challenge is getting paid on time. Unless we insist on and get paid in advance, a large percent of clients string you along for months. It never astounds me when I’m asked for “discounts” after a performance is done.
And of course, the standard. “But you only sing for a little while and your job is done.” No one takes into account the hours of learning and practice. The endless tedium of documentation.
MI: Which is the most standout event you ever sung at?
SP: Performing for Dr. Khushwant Singh, Indian author, lawyer, diplomat, and journalist. I was rather fascinated by his writing. So being invited to stay at and perform at his residence was a surreal experience for me. If I didn’t have pictures of it, I’d completely believe I dreamed the whole thing up.
MI: Do you take requests? What's the craziest?
SP: Yes. All the time. Got a request handed to me on a napkin. “The Blood in my Knees”. Had to have the person hum the song to me and struggled to contain my laughter. The song was Love You To Want Me by Lobo. It’s been 13 years and I burst out laughing every time I think of it. I don’t think even Alzheimers could erase that memory.
MI: Any regrets?
SP: None. To be able to do what I love and earn a living at it? It’s an absolute blessing and I so grateful for my life. This career has taken me places. It’s brought me in contact with people and places I’d never dream of.
MI: Who or what inspires the music that you play?
SP: Myself. The only way I can do better is by aspiring to be a better version of myself. That’s been my driving force. I respect and admire artists such as Whitney Houston, Lauren Hill, Aretha Franklin, Iyeoka, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, et al.
MI: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
SP: Sitting on a beach somewhere. Singing just for the love of it. A quiet existence with my daughter (if she chooses to be around).
MI: Any words of advice for upcoming young women artists?
SP: Your reputation is everything. Keep your personal life absolutely separate from your professional life and persona. Be extremely polite and assertive at the same time. Never compromise on the quality of your tech rider. Create a vision board of your goals and work like hell to get there.
Sabrina, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule and speaking to us. It's been a pleasure and an honour to talk to you. Cheers. Happy Women's Day!