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Verve People
May 29, 2015

Pitch Perfect: Shilpa Rao

Text by Zaral Shah. Photograph by Tejal Pandey. Location Courtesy: House Of Wow

She is the unseen voice behind the foot-tapping chartbusters that have set the nation rocking. Shilpa Rao speaks to Verve about her passion, inspiration and dream

Your tryst with music: I have been singing ever since I can remember. Initially, my father taught me. When we moved to Mumbai in 1997 and I met Hariharan (the singer), it changed a lot of things for me. To be honest, I did not start out wanting to be a singer but when I realised that it was something that I could do, I was motivated. I debuted with Anwar in 2007 followed by Salaam-e-Ishq and Woh Ajnabee. In 2011 I did a lot of television like MTV Unplugged, The Dewarists and Coke Studio @ MTV.

A composer and co-singer you enjoyed working with: Pritam and Vishal-Shekhar are fantastic composers. As for co-singers, KK is an absolute delight. After Khuda Jaane we did two to three gigs together — he’s a superb human being.

A treasured moment: There was an RJ who once said, “Either you have been through a lot in life or you are a very good actress.” I will never forget that compliment from her.

The genre you enjoy singing and listening to the most: I have not restricted myself to any particular genre while performing or listening to music. I have been open to all kinds of music; I have always tried to do a newer style. I love listening to Ustad Amir Khan Sahab, Eddie Vedder, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sting.

Your breakthrough song: Tose Naina was surely the first and Khuda Jaane came a little later. Both these tracks are significant for me.

Globe-trotting to you is: Travelling in India is enriching. My friends and I just took a road trip to Goa, Hampi, Bengaluru and Coorg.

Your inspiration: My father — not just because what he has done for me, but also because he has exposed me to good music, taught me to have good judgement and to analyse what is good and what is not.

Recordings versus live performances: Both. When you are in a studio you are creating something new — it is thrilling. Live performances are real-time experiences. Your audience is right there and with each venue and concert, the connection that you make with your audience is unique.

A song of your own that stands out: Tose Naina from Anwar. Not just because it was my first, but when I hear it now, I don’t think I would sing it the way I did back then. There is something about your first song though — the innocence maybe.

Fashion and luxury are: Fashion for me is comfort. Luxury is having the time to catch up with your friends.

Highlights of 2015: I have a song in NH10;  other projects are lined up.

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