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  • Neeharika Panda’s dream come true

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    Teenage songster Neeharika Panda promises to make a sound impact at Carnegie Hall next year

    Having dreams as a teenager is one thing. Actually making it come true is another matter altogether. For teen singing sensation Neeharika Panda though, it was all just waiting to happen.

    Having won the first place in the American Protege International Music Talent Competition Fall 2017, the young vocalist from Bengaluru is heading to Carnegie Hall next year to stake her claim on the global platform for singers.

    When she got the news, Neeharika says she was euphoric. “I was thrilled at getting this opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people at Carnegie Hall and showcase my talent.”

    Her entry for the event was the version of ‘Jamaica Farewell’ by Don Williams and she will be singing the same in her performance on April 1 next year. “Although Harry Belafonte is the original composer, I’m paying tribute to Don Williams since he passed away this September.”

    She continues: “I like this song a lot. I used to sing it in sixth grade and perform in the apartment we live in and in school. The song touches my heart. Whenever I listen to the song, it reminds me of Harry Belafonte journey. Personally, I have a deep connection with the song. I love country music and it fills my heart in a special way.”

    So what does she have in store for her audience? Neeharika says: “I hope they are happy with what they have heard and take life lessons from the song. ‘Jamaica Farewell’ talks about never giving up. It’s a song of hope and I hope it reminds them that no matter what obstacle comes their way, they can find a way out.”

    Looking back, the youngster says she’s been in love with singing since she was 11. “I have, till now, not received any personal training in singing. I only went for keyboard classes from fifth grade.”

    Her earliest memory of music is her mother singing songs by Lata Mangeshkar. “I grew up listening to classical music and that was my earliest inspiration. I soon started singing too and my parents encouraged me to give professional singing a shot. Since then, I’ve been honing my singing skills. My parents and friends have constantly supported me and helped me give this my 100 per cent.”

    The ninth grader from VidyaNiketan School in Hebbal, says she manages to easily juggle between her passion for music and studies. “Whenever I find time after school, I commit it to singing. Music freshens and motivates me. So after singing, I feel more prepped up to study.”

    While she loves to sing rock, pop, jazz and even classical, Neeharika’s heart is in folk. “I love singing in the folk style. It has a wide repertoire and I’d love to experiment with it.”

    While almost everyone in the list of winners in the American Protege International Music Talent Competition has a mentor, Neeharika is one of the only ones without one. “That is quite a feat in itself. I think since I’m one of the very few in the list without a mentor, it’s great to have made it by myself. Of course, I do plan to get professional training soon.”

    She also credits Bengaluru for playing a vital role in shaping her music. “Bengaluru is a city that encourages music. I listen to a lot of radio since some of my favourite songs are on air. It is also amazing to be in a city that has a league of entertainers. The environment is encouraging and competitive and the audience is always supportive.”

    Hoping to be a fulltime singer in the future, Neeharika reiterates that she would love to get personal training first. “I want to keep learning and never stop.”

    Ask her what’s next on her bucket list and she shoots back a long list. “My priority is to upload my videos on YouTube. I would like to compose music and also form my own band,” she says adding, “I hope to become popular worldwide. Of course, I’d love to keep playing and singing. It’s equally important to master an instrument – you can’t do without it.” To all the teens like her out there, she encourages: “Give your best, never give up on yourself and keep perusing your goals.”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Music / by Allan Moses Rodricks / January 02nd, 2018

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