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Mumbai, Mahārāshtra, India | MAJOR

Mumbai, Mahārāshtra, India | MAJOR
Band World Soul


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Singing Loud & Clear"

Her voice reminds you of a born again Sufi priestess rather than a pop princess. It's a voice with an unfathomable soul and it is miraculous that Sona Mohaptra with the purity of her brilliance has made it past talent hunts that douse raw diamonds in cheap glitter and pour young women into a restrictive idea of superstardom. An idea that has streaked hair and sings from the cleavage rather than the voice box. Where has this woman come from? And is she by any chance an accident? A sudden lily making its debut in the cesspool of Indian pop world?
When Sona sings, ``Tere Ishq Nachaya,'' or ``Abhi Nahin Aana,'' her creamy voice makes no overtures to the sweaty dancers who grind to the synthetic grooves of ``item'' numbers without listening to their lyrics. When you see her dancing to ``Aaja Ve'' in a voluminous Patiala salwar in a rugged village among little children, you rub your eyes in disbelief. Where are the semi naked back-up dancers? The larger-than-the-song cleavage? The soul-less pandering to the male gaze? The absence of all feminine pride and the dehumanization of the female body? How in this age of an all swallowing, monotonous testosterone being unleashed by Himesh Reshammiya's noisy nose, has survived an album which if not stridently feminist, speaks of and to the female heart like no one has since Shubha Mudgal's Man Ke Manjeere?
The good part is that Sona-the album is a creative and spiritual collaboration between Mohapatra herself and two men, music director Ram Sampath and Munna Dhiman ! Just goes to show that the best kind of music is made when male and female sensibilities blend and create something extraordinary. The music, the voice and the lyrics synergise perfectly to create a narrative about a woman who dreams, is playful and thoughtful, has dignity and sensitivity. There is a bit of Bulle Shah in her. A bit of Begum Akhtar. A bit of all women who want to hold on to their true essence in a world crawling with stereotypes. A woman who wants to know why conversation died between her lover and her (Bolo Na), who challenges him to woo her because she won't do all the work in the relationship(Aaja Ve), who tells him not to come just yet because she wants to long for him just a bit longer (Abhi Nahin Aana) and who will dream no matter because,``Sapne Hona Zaroori Hai'' (Dreams must be dreamt).
There have been very few genuine female voices in Indipop music. Formula rather than individuality is drawn upon to crank up the success volumes in this business. The female presence in popular music amounts to a dancer slithering up to a naked male chest in the remix version of Aashique Banaya Apne, a Meghna Naidu twiddling her toes under a satin bed sheet in Kaliyon Ka Chaman, a Shefali Zariwala flashing her thong in Kaanta Laga. It would be hard to remember a single album in the past decade with a definitive female voice if you discount Shubha Mudgal's occasional forays into fusion albums. But Sona is the bright young hope that one hopes will continue to realize itself. And will not fall prey to individuality negating stylists and recording companies with fixed agendas. Her success is a good omen and one hopes to hear more of her and from her.
- Indian Express - Tuesday 24-2007

"Against The Grain"

I’m not interested in being a “Bollywood” figurine. I have nothing against it, but I’ve never dreamt of it.

Richard Bona – look out. This scorching hottie wants to jam with him while she’s readying her new album. Here’s Sona, of “Bolo Na” fame on David Bowie, fame and rocking out 40,000 Punjabis…
Published on Jul 14, 2009

1. People describe your voice as “unusual” or “unique.” We’re totally loving it. How would you, Sona, describe yourself and the entire Sona experience?
I hope this doesn’t sound awfully pompous, but my music & my world are really about bridging the timeless & the contemporary. I love history, architecture & I’m fascinated by how things age. I love the fact that all classical singers reach their artistic peak post their 40s. I want my music to get better with time, but I also want to enjoy the moment. That contradiction is who I am..
2. What is the new “soundtrack-rock” album all about? What was your approach to this project like?

I wanted this to be a concept album, but not in a gimmicky way. I love music that not only paints a mood, but also gives you a sense of place. The songs move from day to night not only in terms of mood, themes & emotions, but also in ‘raagas’. We’re not stringent about it, but the songs are loosely based on the performance time of raagas.

3. How different is Raat/Din from your first album Sona? Can we expect stuff like “Bolo Na” and “Aaja Ve” out of this one too?

The one thing I’m not fond of is repeating myself, but there are some really strong singles on this album. This album is taking a while because I’m hoping to take it to the next level & I’m really pleased with how it’s shaping up.

4. Talking about your unexpectedly enthusiastic gig last night – what does a live show do for you? Do you prefer rocking out a live audience as opposed to recording in closed quarters?

As much as I love being in the studio, the main attraction for me is the stage. There’s nothing like rocking an audience out with my band. To quote the famous pop song, “Live is Life!” ….& I believe I was born to be on stage !

5. Doing live shows throughout India – tier 1 and tier 2 – and getting audiences to bust a move the world over, are audiences abroad a whole lot different? Do you expect a lot more from those audiences?

The big difference is that they’ve heard a lot of great bands, especially New York, which is why I was kinda nervous before I stepped on stage at the Lincoln Centre NYC this year in January. You’ve got to have your act together, or else you get found out real fast ! Having said that, they’re also really appreciative of music from India & as long as you’re not playing what they already do really well, they’re keen on listening to you. I don’t expect anymore or any less from any audience though . For me , a gig is a gig and I always have fun on stage . Im the happiest on stage .

6. How did you get about collaborating with INXS and David Bowie? What was the whole experience like?

I loved working with INXS because ‘Afterglow’ is an Indian song at heart! It’s so melodramatic, epic & romantically ambitious that I just fell for it the moment I heard it. It was great meeting them & hearing them praise our version of the song so much! Since it was released in the UK & did really well, we were planning more such collaborations but then the band went into hiatus, so no news as of now.

With Bowie, it happened through agents, as they were looking for artists who could re-interpret the song, ‘Let’s Dance’, which is a childhood favourite of mine. They loved what we did & it’s supposed to be part of a compilation of remixes of Bowie’s songs. Now all that remains is to actually meet the Thin White Duke himself!

7. Who are some of the artists you want to jam with in the future?

I dream of jamming with the great voices that walk this earth. I actually have a specific & long fantasy wish list. Angelique Kidjo, Wadali brothers, Aruna Sairam, Tori Amos, Youssou N’ Dour, Cassandra Wilson, Cheb Mami, Richard Bona.. The list goes on & on. It’s going to take a lot of riyaaz!

8. Everybody, at some point, has dreamed of being a pop star. What’s the whole backstage and recording experience like?

It’s a dream come true. I pinch myself from time to time! Actually, it’s a lot of fun mixed with a lot of discipline, if you really want to be as good as your heroes.

9. What’s the craziest live show experience you’ve had till date?

It’s got to be playing to stadium packed to the gills with 40,000 screaming Punjabis in Chandigarh. I’d prepared a whole set of Punjabi folk songs for that gig & the audience knew every word I sang! It felt like a sing-along! At times I couldn’t even hear myself. It was nuts! In a good way I mean!

10. You consider yourself the first female lead singer of a band that releases Hindi songs. Is it very different or difficult for a female artiste to make a break into Indian mainstream music?

The live circuit in India has yet to find it’s ground with mainstream non-film music & they have a really hard time slotting me. Just because I don’t want to be defined by Bollywood doesn’t mean I’ve got to sing in English or look like a ‘frump’. I like the contradiction that I am & I’m going to make this country accept me on my terms.

11. You’re part of music’s online generation – that is artists who understand the impact of being a netizen. Is releasing samples of your music online, blogging and spamming hard-core fans more a method of getting rid of piracy or are you closet nerd?

I think the current environment presents a great opportunity for musicians to interact with their audience. I’m quite a technophobe, but I do hear what people on the net have to say about my music. Revenue models have changed so radically in the last decade and it’s a crying shame that the music industry hasn’t bothered to catch up, but as naïve as it sounds, I do believe in the integrity of my audience. I think they would pay for music & artists that they like, if the music companies made it available in the first place!

12. What’s it like being a folk rocker? What are the kinds of influences you draw on to bring out albums in your genre?

I’ve always been inclined towards earthy, rootsy music. Give me the Blues any day! I feel the same way about Indian music. Our folk music has all the ingredients that are vital to pop music – great stories, beautiful melodies & funky grooves. While anybody can sing them, it takes a genuinely great singer to really SING them! So while I listen to most styles of music, I go back to World folk & roots music to really get my mojo working.

13. Did you always want to be a musician? You’ve been doing this since you were six but what’s it like giving up the regular life to be a star?

I always wanted to be a singer & a musician. I’ve always enjoyed looking good. I never set out to be a star. It just isn’t in my list of priorities. I admire artistes like Mallika Sarabhai, Tori Amos & Bjork because they have afiercely unique style of their own that’s part of their persona. That’s what I aspire to.

14. How important is a good knowledge of Hindustani classical music when it comes to creating your style of music?

My knowledge of Hindustani music is something I hope to work on daily. It’s invaluable as it’s the bedrock of all the improvisation in my style of singing. What is most difficult though, is to make it sound natural and effortless.

15. Such diverse influences for R&B to folk rock to even Gypsy Romani – who are some of your favourite artists ever?

Vocally, my biggest inspirations are Girija Devi, Pt. Kumar Gandharva, Begum Akhtar , Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Nina Simone, Tori Amos & Geeta Dutt

16. When people think about a female pop artist in India, they think about the clichéd item girl romp in music videos. What kind of videos can we expect from this album? Who are some of the directors you’re working with?

As we speak, we’re working on our first video. It’s directed by Deepti Gupta, who had earlier directed my “Aaja Ve” video. I love working with her because she really gets the music. We share an aesthetic & world view, so it’s easy to vibe with her. Once I share the concept of the album with her, I let her do her thing on the videos. The videos will be ‘true’ to the songs is all I can say !

17. Why didn’t you try going down the Bollywood path? You’ve got a great voice and you’re good looking.

It’s because I’m not interested in being a “Bollywood” figurine. I have nothing against it, but I’ve never dreamt of it. I have done songs for a few Bollywood movies recently & it was a lot of fun. We’ve even shot a music video for one of the songs. It’s my kind of song, so I’m quite excited about it. If Bollywood wants me for who I am, that’s fine by me, not otherwise.

18. Which artists would you consider as major competition and why?

No one, and I’m being honest. The whole point of music is that it isn’t a race. No one has to lose for someone to win. It’s hard to explain to some people though. A lot of people are still stuck in the zero-sum game.

19. Give us the lowdown on what the future is like for Sona. What are you planning on over the next one year?

I plan to release my album, start playing it live anywhere & everywhere I can. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take it around the world. On a personal front, I’m hoping to study Urdu & Spanish , but please don’t quote me on that..

20. One last thing – could you compose a jingle for Blender – the music & entertainment magazine for the digital generation?

Why not?! Here’s a great way of describing my music – It’s all my influences, aspirations, experiences, realizations & contradictions in a ‘blender’!

- BLENDER MAGAZINE - Published on Jul 14, 2009

"Global Tuning"

Singers Sona Mohapatra and Kailash Kher may have distinct styles but they are both known for their earthy tunes. National Geographic seems to have noticed too. The two have been profiled for the channel's world music series called The Music Nomad. The channel felt that Kher with his Sufi influence and Mohapatra with her Soul Folk Rock embodied the essence of India with a modern twist. Who better than them to represent India on a global front?
-Compiled by Jhilmil Motihar
- INDIA TODAY - Aug.2009

"'The monster of bollywood is here'"

In town, Sona Mohapatra tells TOI that iTunes of Indian music isn’t available since most labels don’t want transparency.....

You’ve returned to performing in Kolkata after two years. What’s changed about this city’s listeners?
I’d like to perform a lot more in Kolkata, especially for colleges and students. It’s a city that seems to have a genuine love for the arts in general and live bands in particular. Unfortunately, I think the monster of Bollywood seems to have crept in. This was one audience and the only market in the whole country that seemed to have been looking out for more independent and original music. Members of the media, who are the tastemakers, are partly to blame for this.

It’s often said that many Indian music labels are on the verge of bankruptcy. Is it the listeners who want free downloads or a certain gap in marketing music that’s responsible for this?
Music labels across the world, not only India, in their traditional dinosaur avatar are on the verge of bankruptcy or are relying heavily on their old catalogue to barely survive. They haven’t really anticipated the changing consumption patterns of the consumers for their product. One can’t blame the consumer for it. It’s the job of record labels to be able to monetise it and make a business out of it. Live music is thriving. Why aren’t labels thinking about investing in live venues and live cafés ? Today, we have iTunes. This is something music companies should have anticipated and partnered!

Why is Indian music still unavailable on iTunes?
I recently met Denzel Feigelson. He has played a key role in setting up iTunes. On asking him about why iTunes hadn’t come to India as yet, I was shocked to hear that it’s mostly to do with the labels not wanting to make things transparent and thereby sharing possible royalties with composer creators and artistes.

Ram Sampath is on the committee that is debating over copyright laws. What changes would you suggest regarding copyright?
My partner, Ram Sampath, was part of that committee and has since then moved out to make way for the legendary Gulzar. I feel if we want to be serious world players, it’s just a matter of time before we get rid of our feudal exploitative mindsets and treat the creators, writers and idea makers of our country as collaborators and partners. Giving them a share of returns for something that they have given birth to literally is a basic decency that the whole civilised world follows. Fortunately, the Indian government has woken up to this.

Should a singer share the percentage of losses with the producers?
This ‘loss- sharing’ kind of talk only smacks of ignorance. Composers and authors are looking to give a stake in the IP that they create, in the music only, not the film per se. Singers are due a stake in the public broadcast of their voice. The producers have the biggest stake in the music revenues also since their films are the raison d’etre for this music. Nobody is asking for a stake in the film or the revenue it makes. If the music does well, all stakeholders will proportionately benefit in the ratio of their respective shares. If it doesn’t, none will benefit. So, where is this tangential googly of ‘loss sharing’ in the film coming from?

You’ve also been a major advocate of releasing singles digitally. Isn’t this trend soon going to make music labels redundant?
The consumer wants value of every buck spent. I’m the first mainstream artiste to have put out Diljale out as a single and it went on to become the highest steaming video in the global network of a mobile company. Twenty countries. The second to my video was one by Pearl Jam. Music labels could be great partners if they just got more visionary and also believed in being transparent and fairer to the artistes.

- TIMES OF INDIA - Mar 21, 2010

"Chords & Notes"

It is a motley mixture of various genres, lyrics and styles. Sony BMG's latest album launches Sona Mohapatra as a versatile singer who defies classification. The first track "Bolo Na" is a mellow number with good guitar accompaniment but what is interesting is Sona's uninhibited voice. The catchy background score in "Abhi Nahin Aana" and the Punjabi pop influence in "Aaja Ve" add to the appeal of the album. The fourth song, "Ishq Nachaya" with impressive percussion and Bulle Shah lyrics follows the Sufi trend in popular music that was kick started by Rabbi Shergill not so long ago. "Aisi Jaagi Re" has a distinct rustic flavour, while "Awaz" is much softer. "Jai Phulo Re", a heady song, is followed by a foot-tapping number, "Sapne". Interspersing semi-classical music with western zing works wonders for this album, which offers something for everyone. And, yes, there are two remixes too. It is a sad commentary of the times that we are going through that no album is perhaps complete without remix numbers.

- THE HINDU - Wednesday, Sep 27, 2006

"Music Chooses You"

The sultry-voiced diva can hold you in a trance. Her music has a strangely enigmatic quality about it, a quality that one would be tempted to call hypnotic, even intoxicating. Sona Mohapatra is emerging as one of the new-age artistes who are taking India's non-film music scenes to new horizons.
She says, "You don't choose music, music chooses you." As you pause, mulling over this much-used explanation, she adds, "I was always doing music. (She has trained in Hindustani classical for over 12 years.) But I realised that I had to devote myself completely to it and not try to juggle both. There is no escape button."
So began her journey and she has been singing strains of rock, folk, Sufi, balancing and experimenting with the genres. "My music is fusion but its bedrock is essentially Indian. I believe in soul music. Instead of strict adherence to genres, my music is an absorption of different cultures. I imbibe as I move on. I think there is good music and bad music. I just want to be part of good music, music that is timeless."
Her first album was eponymous and her second album 'RAAT/DIN' is in the making. Sona has found a unique way of releasing the songs from it though. "Instead of cribbing about free downloads and all, I think we should use new media." So, the first single from 'RAAT/DIN', Diljale, was launched via Nokia Digital Music Store, and a new song will come there every two months.
But there is one song of hers you could not have missed. Remember 'Paas Aao' from the Close Up ad? That is a part of Sona's upcoming single actually, and the singer has sung all the 13 language versions (including Kannada). She also has another Kannada connection, in a funny sort of a way. "My first single 'Bolo Na' has a Kannada version. Actually, it was just ripped, but when they came to Sony, the company told me about it. So now, you have a Chitra version and a Sona version in Kannada," she laughs.
She has had her stints in Bollywood too, like a duet with Shreya Ghosal under Vishal-Shekhar and more, but playback singing does not enthuse her as much as non-film music, and especially live performances. "I love to face my audience," the artiste says.
The singer has recently been a part of MTV Rock On and you will catch her performing on the show today (November 16) with Palash Sen. She praises the show effusively, calling it a "refreshing change". "I am glad that MTV is back to concentrating on music so intensively. India is waking up to live shows, where magic can happen impromptu, and a show like this helps."
Sona has been wowed by the number of talented bass players that Rock On has discovered, and has even taken one of them, Keshav, on board. Although she is very impressed by the instrumentalists, she has a slight regret. She says, "There is But although dressing up and being a 'performer' as they say is more of your individuality and personality in my opinion – I mean, to each his own -- I do believe that a lead singer needs to be the frontrunner and to hold the stage together. This is the area where Rock On has lacked."
Rock On, album, live shows, and a collaboration in London and a project with a French DJ on dance music in the offing -- Sona is busy creating original expressions and genuine music.
- The New Indian Express ; Nov 16th 2009

"Soulful songstress"

Verve toasts some of the most promising faces of 2008
Buzz: Fresh soul-rock compositions, earthy appeal, international gigs
Make it mantra: Sing from the heart. Being thick-skinned helps!
Sona Mohapatra fits the conventional image of a star – pretty, spunky and impeccably groomed. But what would really upset her detractors is the fact that she also sounds like one. Her debut album SONA is a blend of contemporary and ethnic sounds with nuances of Romani gypsy music, R&B, east Indian baul, Flamenco and north Indian folk rhythms. From the Spanish-influences of Bolo Na, a song about fragmented relationships to the old-world charm of Abhi Nahin Aana, which gives voice to a girl who is enjoying the wait for her beloved’s return and the Rajasthani folk flavours of Aaja Ve, her voice has a warmth and mellifluous appeal to it. She has that undeniable ability to connect with her audience through her songs, which are “personal journeys.”
Sona, who holds an engineering degree as well as an MBA, has been performing since the age of six and has trained in Hindustani classical for over a decade. But she didn’t exactly have it easy when she decided to pursue music. “The hardest thing to accept is that most people find an independent-minded woman intimidating. I can’t overcome it, so I’m hoping the world will get over it soon,” she exclaims. But she has managed to find that elusive formula to success. “It takes a thick hide to be successful in my field. Talent and vision also help.” A global gypsy, her music has taken her to London, Singapore, Dubai and New York and she draws inspiration from books, architecture, design, food and history.
In both, her music as well as her personal style, she hates conforming to any set standard and would rather rely on her own sense of what is hip – which incidentally earned her a nomination as a Style Icon for the MTV Lycra Style Awards held in October 2007. Of the belief that individuality is hip, she’s biased towards clothes that make a statement. Staying far away from busy patterns and over-embellished ensembles, she values comfort and prefers bold, solid colours, structured forms and clean lines. Rajesh Pratap Singh, Sabyasachi and Anand Kabra are among her favourite designers.
The last year has been hectic what with her collaboration on a track called Let’s Dance with the legendary David Bowie that will be part of a Bollywood film later this year. She has also worked with INXS on their track Afterglow and on other collaborations with Hard Kaur, Rishi Rich and Tiger Style. Looks like this year will be just as packed for her. She’s busy working on her new album and “playing at every possible venue on the planet” with her band. As Sona puts it, she wants to get “closer to the flame”. If her recent achievements are any indication, this artiste who insists that “it’s sing or perish” for her, is definitely not going to get burnt out.

- Verve magazine- Issue 1, January, 2008


SONA- Studio Album released on 11th Sept 2006

DILJALE- Single Released Aug.2009

Bollywood Songs

Lori - Family
Daav Laga - Aage Se Right
Chaayi Madhoshiyaan - Jumbo
Bahara - I Hate Love Stories

Delhi Belly (to be released)
PhillumCity (to be released )

Music Videos

Tere Ishq Nachaya
Aja Ve
Bolo Na
Abhi Nahi Aana


Love is (2007) - INXS Afterglow
Teri Deewani(2007) - Tere Ishq nachaya
Aao Ji (2009) - Aja Ve
Soulful Sufi (2009) - Abhi Nahin Ana


INXS with Sona -Afterglow (charted on the UK iTunes)



Sona Mohapatra is a singer and performer from India. She is simply called SONA. Sona means golden in Hindi, the language of the Indian heartland.
Sona aspires to make soul music in many genres, music that moves you and therefore her music could be called, Desi Soul. Desi means Indian. She loves to infuse ancient & modern poetry with sounds that blend folk roots, Hindustani classical, Sufiana kalaam , eastern Baul music, contemporary rock ,funk & blues.
Sona grew up all across India , small towns and some bigger cities thanks to her father itinerant job. While she trained in Hindustani classical music for over 12 years, these constant moves ensured that she was not influenced by any one particular school of music & developed her own unique style instead .Each of the places became a part of her, imprinting their sights and sounds and music to her aesthetic palate. Sona moved to Mumbai in the post the year 2003 to find a city on the move. The timing was right, the whole country was on the move after years of stagnation- and Mumbai was leading the charge. She fitted in naturally and immediately plugged into the energy of the trains and the colour of the crowds, finding the paradox of traditional life coexisting with unbridled modernization very much in sync with the person she is and her music. The city's longing for love and lucidity amidst the fractured rhetoric of commerce inspired the songs of love and longing and acceptance in her music.
Sona formed her first band in this city and also teamed up with well known composer & record producer Ram Sampath, to release her solo debut album on SONY music. This album went on to win all the awards in its category in the year 2007. Her videos Aja Ve and Tere Ishq Nachaya were featured amongst the top world music videos by a US world music channel called Link TV.The association with Sony Music also lead to a collaboration with the legendary Australian band INXS for a desi version of Afterglow.
Sona has been amongst the first two artistes from India to be featured on the world music series called The Music Voyager on National Geographic. This series is slated to go across over 137 countries and is hosted by Jacob Edgar, head of Cumbancha records.
Sona is a fantastic live performer who lives for the high of being on stage & is most alive in front of a crowd, the larger the better She believes that she is fuelled by a very unique feminine energy called Shakti from the goddess Durga.