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My Favorite Music: Suman Sridhar

The Bengaluru-based singer/songwriter on the tracks that have inspired her by artists such as Busta Rhymes and Yesudas

Rolling Stone India Aug 12, 2015
Suman Sridhar. Artwork by Vinay Pateel

Suman Sridhar. Artwork by Vinay Pateel

10 favourite songs in no particular order that I would listen to at any time of day, on repeat. These songs have nurtured, inspired and will continue to intrigue me across time-space.


Ja Sei Namorar

This catchy party song is on the first and only album by Brasilian band Tribalistas. The words and mood are existential, feisty and content, all at the same time. The translation of the chorus goes like this: I have no patience to watch TV / I’m no audience for loneliness / I belong to nobody / I belong to everyone / And everybody loves me / I belong to nobody”¨/ I belong to everyone”¨/ And everyone belongs to me as well.

Everlasting Sigh

I caught Moses Sumney, a Los Angeles artist, perform this song acapella using a loop station, and I was blown away. This six feet tall towering creature blessed us with his sublime talent, unreleased, but oh-so unforgettable that epic Halloween night at the Skirball Center. Look out for the release of his debut album!

Evening in Gay Maharashtra

Written by husband and wife duo Mina and Naju Kava, this tune was released by HMV in 1969 to promote pride in Maharashtra. Forty four years later, with the Indian Supreme Court’s re-criminalization of homosexuality, the lyrics to this song ring as a parody of basic human rights and freedom in this country. “Yes, our ladies / They are gay and so romantic’ inadvertently becomes a refrain of dissent in a state of religious fanaticism and repression.”

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The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines

This 12-bar blues form, written and beautifully performed by Joni Mitchell features Jaco’s signature fat bass. The track belongs to a lesser known Mitchell album titled ”˜Mingus’ dedicated to and written in collaboration with Charles Mingus. Melodically intricate and unlike most vocal melodies, the album often sounds like lyrical transcriptions of instrumental jazz solos.

Pierrot Lunaire

Schoenberg’s atonal song-cycle of French poems is written in the ”˜Sprechstimme’ style, which combines spoken text with instrumental accompaniment. Spooky and full of atmosphere, this is a great piece of study for any vocalist.

Ka Karoon Sajni

This Hindustani classical thumri was made famous by Yesudas’ version from the Hindi film Swami. The melody and delivery is haunting and stays with you, inexplicably so.

Four Women

Nina Simone delivers this song as a seething portrait of four black women through four verses ending in a dramatic crescendo. The track was released and banned from several radio stations in 1966, the same year the Black Panther Party was formed.

The Doll Song

An aria from the French opera The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. Olympia’s character who sings the aria plays the role of an automaton, moving in short mechanical steps while hitting extremely long high notes. This heightens the absurdity of the scene, making for a breathtaking experience.

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Uyirum Neeyae

Released as part of the soundtrack to Tamil film Pavithra in 1994, Unni Krishnan’s sweet voice carries Rahman’s melody to a sentimental and religious note.


Gimme Some More

Busta Rhymes has an addictive flow in the way he spits these words of inspiration: “Yeah, Flipmode, Flipmode is the greatest / Knowing as a shorty / I was always told”¨/ That if I ain’t gon’ be part of the greatest”¨/ I gotta be the greatest myself.”

Details for The Black Mamba Tour premiering Suman Sridhar and The Oracle:

blueFrog Pune on August 12th, 8.30 pm onwards. Entry Rs 300/-

blueFrog Mumbai on August 13th, 9 pm onwards. Entry Rs 350/-

blueFrog Bangalore on August 14th, 9 pm onwards. Entry TBC