When the world was plunged into lockdowns and fear, a few resilient artists rose to the occasion and helped the world lighten its weary load. After all, even scientific studies have proven that certain forms of Indian art, music and yoga have healing properties and benefits. One artist leading this movement of healing through music and celebrating one’s own culture is violinist, singer, and wellness professional Sunita Bhuyan. It does this through its innovative music offerings and by promoting Indian art and culture on various national and international forums and festivals.
Through her unique practice called “Wellness, Creativity and Leadership through Music”, Bhuyan has shattered the myth that music is just entertainment. Instead, she uses it as a way to heal the mental health of traditional and marginalized communities. Her work has been recognized by His Holiness Pope Francis, who rewarded her for her music therapy workshops for underprivileged children; and most recently, by the Governor of Maharashtra for her contributions during the pandemic, when she performed with her son Ronojit at 150 virtual events from their home studio, 35-40 of which were fundraisers for affected communities. by Covid.
His latest initiative is his world tour around the world to [email protected] Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, which even drew enthusiastic applause from the Honorable Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. As ‘Joy of Giving Ambassador’ for Don Bosco Worldwide, Bhuyan has also collaborated with several causes in the United States. These include the Thanksgiving Concert for Covid Warriors at Tapan Parish New York; a multi-artist set for Sunburst Foundation Montana; a fundraising concert for flood victims in Assam; and the Indo-American Friendship Concert hosted by the Consulate General of India in New York.
Originally from Assam and currently based in Mumbai, Bhuyan is a disciple of her mother, violinist Minoti Khaund from Assam and maestro Padmabibhushan Pandit VG Jog. Other feathers to his credit include an MBA in Human Resources and a Masters in Music.
As she prepares for her upcoming UK tour for [email protected] Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, she joins Sunday Guardian for an exclusive chat. Excerpts from an edited interview:
Q. Why did you enter this field?
A. I am very attached to my initial training in music and to my culture. Although I have been based in Mumbai for 21 years, I often visit Assam for work and performance. Over the past ten years, I have forayed into folk fusion and have become the first fiddler in India to play Assamese folk on the fiddle.
I was a full-time human resources professional, but in 2012 I quit my corporate job to create a music-based wellness and creativity leadership program. I think I had the right skills to be able to bring together these two passions of mine. So my profession moves from the training room to the stage… and by the grace of God, the stage all over the world.
Q. Please tell us about your recent tours. How are they different from your previous ones?
A. Recent tours have focused on the central theme of [email protected] promote the Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav spirit. Starting with Expo Dubai where we headlined International Women’s Day at the India Pavilion, before performing for the Honorable PM in Delhi and finally New York for the Indian Consulate.
At the same time, I did a lot of shows about music, mental health and wellness. This topic has been a key area for me, especially during the pandemic.
Q. As India turns 75, how important is it to preserve and promote our indigenous arts?
A. Indian art forms are so incredibly rich and have immense depth. I think there are a lot of life lessons we can learn from art and music. I also sincerely believe that the arts have a significant impact on mental and physical health. Therefore, any kind of training and structure helps to imbibe the qualities of discipline and self-control that should be instilled in us when we are young.
Q. How can people help promote our wonderful cultural heritage?
A. I think people can do this by first recognizing that all art forms are a livelihood like any other, and that we have to pay to reap their enjoyment. It’s unfair to expect artists to continue entertaining themselves for free, in fact, it’s cruel! No other service is received for free, so why do people expect art to be available for free?
I also believe that the school must make art and music compulsory so that our country can form balanced citizens. The corporate world should also learn to utilize the benefits of the arts for wellness and leadership development.
Q. Tell us about your artistic process from start to finish, especially when you go on tour. How do you prepare for it?
A. There’s a whole procedure in place for this and no matter how much you prepare, there’s always something new you learn along the way.
As soon as we receive an application, we assess the host organization and perform our internal due diligence. Then we assess the venue and audience profile, before exploring budgets to see if we can fly our entire group for the project in question. If that’s not possible, we start looking for options to collaborate with local musicians. Then we plan the details of our trip and assess possible accommodations, as we have to be careful abroad. Then we start planning our playlist and conducting virtual workshops with our co-artists. Once we land, we review the venue and sound specs. When our performance is over, we take some time off to enjoy the new place and keep a few extra days to explore and relax.
Q. What is your favorite part of being on tour?
A. I think it’s breakfast the day after the concert because by then we are generally relaxed after a successful event! It’s also why I always take the return flights in the afternoon and never the morning ones after a show. We are usually so stressed on the day of the show that we have to dress up and perform, then socialize with the host. So the next day, it’s very important to take it slow.
Q. What are you working on next?
A. There’s a lot going on right now and I’m looking forward to it all. Then we have a UK tour next month. This will be followed by some collaborations, which will also be in the UK. I also have a big music and mental health project in the works, and I hope to be able to share more details about it soon.
Noor Anand Chawla writes lifestyle articles for various publications and his blog www.nooranandchawla.com.