Sing like no one is listening, love like you never been hurt, dance like no one is watching and live like it is heaven on earth. ― Mark Twain
By Sujata Rajpal
Inspired by the famous quote of Mark Twain (also lyrics on the similar sentiment from the music album Dance by Mario Frangoulis, a Greek vocalist and theatre actor), the residents of Sankalp Central Park (SCP) have formed a group of singers (amateur and bathroom singers included) who sing for the love of singing.
Once a month this motley crew of about fifty residents of this elite residential society in Yadavagiri get together by the pool side for an hour and sing together uninterrupted, uninhibited and unstoppable.
“The objective of this group is to sing for the love of singing,” says Hema Jairam, whose initiative is now an effervescent bunch comprising residents from various professions, age groups and cultural ethnicities.
Named The SCP Von Trapps (from the movie Sound of Music), the Von Trappers meet on a Sunday evening and sing together for an hour from a pre-determined playlist. Many are out-of-tune, some off-pitch but they sing along without a care in the world. No one sits in judgement, no one corrects anyone because no one is listening. There is no audience, there are only singers.
“This music group provides a platform for the residents to enjoy singing and the outcome is not just the feeling of liberation but also bonding and cordial community living,” says Hema with her infectious smile on display.
The beginning: In 2016 which was the 50th year of Sound of Silence by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel, a bunch of self-proclaimed singers of the residential society decided to pay a tribute to the great singer. Ideas and suggestions poured in to include Boney M and the songs from other albums.
A few days later, George Michael, an English singer, passed away so it was obvious to expand the playlist for the tribute session. “There was no plan to start a music group but we were so overwhelmed by the tremendous response to the inaugural session that we decided to make this a regular affair,” tells Hema who has had no formal training in singing.
Every singing session is meticulously planned. Once the theme is decided, the playlist is prepared and lyrics shared with all the participants. Someone brings a harmonica, a prop, a keyboard or a guitar and there are always people to shake a leg (as if no one is watching). Music binds people like nothing else and Bollywood music binds stronger than any bond. Sankalp Central Park being a cosmopolitan society, the members prefer to stick to Bollywood songs only.
Even during the pandemic, the group continues to buzz. “It was during COVID lockdown that the group was most active. Because we couldn’t meet physically, we shared recordings of songs sung by us on our WhatsApp group which brought in a lot of positivity,” beams Bhanu Shivkumar, who is a trained Karnatak vocalist and an active member of the music group. So very true, in today’s times, there are numerous reasons for people to be divided but such initiatives keep us united and show the good, humanity is capable of.
Besides communal bonding, unearthing of hidden talents is another offshoot of this monthly musical camaraderie. Hema Jairam, Bhanu Shivkumar and Neha Nair have gone a step ahead in their musical journey and started a YouTube channel. Anhad, which means songs from the soul, was launched last year on Ram Navami day with rendition of Ram Bhajans. Since then the singing trio has been regaling the residents regularly with their renditions of Kabir, Sufi and many others.
About twelve to thirteen practice sessions are held but the final recording is only one single session. “There are no retakes,” chorus the ebullient threesome in unison.
How many subscribers do you have? I ask.”We want to stay unperturbed by the likes and numbers, we have also switched off comments because the purpose is to share for the joy of singing and not a self-promotion exercise.”
“Such groups are the best part of community living. I’ve met many new people whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” says architect Ramakrishna Rao, who has been a resident of SCP for the past ten years. Fondly called RK, the busy architect who hasn’t missed a single session till date, makes sure to carry the print outs of all the lyrics even though he knows the lyrics by heart.
So next time you are in Sankalp Central Park on a Sunday evening and you hear loud chorus emanating from the club house, gatecrash the singing party sans tea and samosas and give some exercise to your vocal cords even if you are a bathroom singer because no one is listening. Literally. Sing along and enjoy.