Roshni Baptist: Country Comeback
The Mumbai-based singer-songwriter draws from heartbreak, big-city blues and Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ on her acoustic debut album ‘Unbound’
WhenÂ she was just about wrapping up her graduation in the late Nineties, singer-songwriterÂ RoshniÂ
That’s when Baptist decided to quit a passion she had been pursuing since her preteen years in school andÂ church choir, and take up an “ordinary” nine-to-five job instead.Â But theÂ performance bug kept coming back to biteÂ her””whether it was during her time working the front desk at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, or whilst she was sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line. Aboard the Florida-based cruise line, Baptist had aÂ “nerve-wrecking but fabulous”Â performance, owing to the fact that she was an “Indian girl standing up there performing to an all-American liner.” (Many of the American musicians she played with on board would eventually contribute to her debut release.)
A few years later, BaptistÂ made the decision to returnÂ to India andÂ takeÂ up music full-timeÂ (“I thoughtÂ to myself,Â ”˜Why can’t IÂ give it one final shot?’” she explains), which led to dubbing sessions for Disney movies and jamming with Mumbai-based musicians like Nikhil D’Souza and Jose Neil Gomes, till sheÂ finally had enough material for her own debut album.
Now, onÂ Unbound, BaptistÂ channelsÂ much ofÂ the country music she grew up listening toÂ via her father’sÂ vinylsÂ (Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton), but she also “pays tribute” to younger pop artists likeÂ JohnÂ Mayer, ShaniaÂ Twain, Taylor Swift and SaraÂ Barailles. The album, which releases on September 23rd,Â began taking form around 2013””“thanks to a broken heart,” she reveals. “I think that’s theÂ best fodder any artist can get! Be it aÂ painterÂ or writer or singer. I wanted to get over thatÂ andÂ didn’t know how to express myself,Â but I felt writing it down in a song madeÂ it easy.”
But apart from penning quiet heartbreak warfare onÂ tracks like “Never Wanted You,” Baptist also looks to otherÂ forms of inspiration for the eight-track album:Â “People Always Leave,”Â for example,Â is aÂ dedication toÂ “herÂ dearest and best friend” who’s stayed on even when others have come and gone. “WhyÂ Worry”Â sympathizes with “a singleton coming into a big city”Â and the craziness about living in a city, whileÂ “Fix Me”Â isÂ inspired by MartinÂ Scorsese’sÂ Hugo. Says Baptist, “I set out to make a music album but in a way, the album has helped me learn so much about myself.Â I think I’ve grown a lot with the making of this album.”
Listen to “Never Wanted You,” the first single off ‘Unbound’ below.