Harshdeep Kaur: Sing when you are winning

One of the finest singing talents of this generation talks about music, her upcoming concert, inspirations, and greatest unfulfilled ambitions.

Harshdeep Kaur

Asjad Nazir

WHETHER it is soulful ballads, Sufi classics, spiritual songs or big upbeat numbers, Harshdeep Kaur has delighted fans around the world with an in – credible array of hits.

 These top tracks are all elevated to an even higher level when the superb singer performs them in front of a live audience. That is why her concert at Indigo at The O2 in London on July 12 will be one of this summer’s hottest tickets. 

 The world-class live per – former is looking forward to reconnecting with UK audiences with a multi-layered show that includes her greatest hits, much-loved Punjabi folk tunes and Sufi classics. 

 Eastern Eye caught up with one of the finest singing talents of this generation to talk about music, her upcoming concert, inspirations, and greatest unfulfilled ambitions. The popular star also revealed her biggest heroes and what she most loves about London. 

 How do you maintain such an incredibly high standard? 

 Well, that’s sweet of you to say Asjad, and very sweet of you to notice. I think it has been my motive since the very beginning. I’ve never rushed for quantity in songs, but always focused on quality. I feel that as an artist, it is a responsibility for me to give quality music, because even if my child would listen to my songs after, say 10 or 20 years, he should feel proud of me. When you’re singing and releasing music, it is going to stay forever. People who love music should get to listen to that quality whenever they can.  

Is it a coincidence that your songs have a beautiful timeless quality? 

 I’m really blessed to have worked with great composers. I’ve had the opportunity to sing some beautiful melodies. 

I feel a beautiful melody stays forever, unlike some shallow music or songs that are not raga based, or ahead musically. But songs which are designed beautifully, composed musically, based on ragas and have beautiful chords, with talented musicians giving their inputs, they will stay forever. 

 You are an incredibly versatile artist. But do you prefer slow songs or faster, more upbeat ones?  

Honestly, I feel I have a very different voice. It’s not the regular female voice. Personally, I love all styles of songs, but there are certain genres that suit my voice more. 

 For example, people really love to listen to Sufi songs in my voice. They also enjoy certain romantic songs in my voice, like Zaalima or Heer.  

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Kaur performing live

So, I love singing all kinds of songs. You are at your best live. How do you feel being on stage?  

Well, I feel really alive on stage. 

 The high that you get when on stage in front of an audience, I don’t think any anything else can give you more happiness. That’s what I live for. And the energy that you get from the audience is something that gives you more power. It makes you sing even better and perform from your whole heart. 

 You are like a super confident queen on stage. But do you ever get nervous before a performance? 

 Yes, always before stepping on the stage, I feel that nervousness, thinking how will it be? How is the audience going to be? I hope I sing everything perfectly. So yeah, I have those things in my mind. But I think that nervousness is important because it keeps you humble, and in check, so that you give your best performance.  

How much are you looking forward to your concert in London next month?  

I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been talking about it on my social media because I really want it to be a huge success. I want everyone to come and watch the concert. Also, we mostly see a lot of male singers headlining concerts, but we want to see more female performers on stage. So that’s another reason why I want this to be successful. At the end, it’s all about good music. 

 You have kept it more affordable than a lot of other concerts. 

 I really want people to have a good time at a concert and enjoy quality music. The musicians travelling with me are some of the best from our country. Yes, the ticket pricing is also not high. We have kept it very reasonable so that people can come to the concert with their families and friends and have a good time together. 

 What can we expect from the performance this time or is it a surprise?

 Well, yes, a few surprises have been planned, but yeah, most of it would be my popular Bollywood songs. And there’s a special folk section that we have curated especially for the concert because London has a mixed audience, and people love listening to folk music. There’s also a special tribute to the legends I’ve grown up listening to. So that’s a surprise that’s going to come.  

Everyone has a different favourite song of yours. But is there one that you love performing?  

Honestly, I love performing all my songs, but there are certain ones that people especially request. And one of the most requested songs is, of course, Heer. And then there’s Ek Onkar, Zaalima and Dilbaro. I really love performing Jugni Ji also, because it involves everyone, and everybody just dances to it. 

 How do you generate that incredible power in your voice on stage?  

Definitely the energy comes from the audience. You see, if the audience is dull, the singer won’t be able to give their best. But if you get that energy, great response and involvement from the audience, where they feel like a part of the concert, it definitely enhances your performance. The smiling faces, people dancing and singing the songs with you brings in more positive energy. I think attending a concert is a unique experience. 

 Tell us about that.  

Nothing compares to hearing a song live at a concert because singers do their own variations and musicians put in their own efforts, including improvisations. So that is an experience which you can get only when you go to a live concert.  

You have had an incredible career in music. But do you have any big, unfulfilled ambitions?

 Well, I always say, I wish I could have seen Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Saab sing live – that couldn’t happen, but we always sing his songs, and bring his music alive on stage. I do want to do more collaborations in the future with other artists. Maybe a song with Diljit Dosanjh paaji would be lovely.  

You have done some really amazing collaborations. Is there one that’s been a favourite? 

 One of my favourites has been a song that I did with Ezu, an artist from UK. The song, Jannat, did really well. So maybe we’ll have Ezu also come up and we sing Jannat together at the London concert. 

 Is it fair to say piano is your favourite instrument? 

 Yes, because I’m trained in playing the piano. I really love the peace you get while playing it. But I also love other instruments. I love listening to the Spanish guitar. There are certain Indian instruments that are beautiful, like the rabab, mandolin, and flute.  

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Harshdeep Kaur

Today, what inspires you?  

Well, I always pray to God that, you know, just make me better in my field. That I may become a better human being. Whenever I listen to other talented musicians, including young children singing so beautifully, that inspires me a lot. The fact that my music will stay there forever is an inspiration in itself. When I die, I want people to remember me for doing good music and remembering me through my music. So that is an inspiration in itself for me.  

You are performing in London again in July. What do you love about the city?  

I love that it’s a multi-cultural city. You meet people from different cultures and nationalities, yet they have a common love for music. Their common love for music and other things unites them. It’s multicultural, yet it feels like one.  

(Laughs) Since I stay in India, it’s very hot here right now, so I love the British weather also. People in the UK miss the sun, but we have too much sun here.  

You’re a hero to so many people. But who’s your hero?  

My father, and now my husband because I feel they both are like my backbones. Before I was married, my dad was the one always pushing me to fulfil my dreams. He was always there to support my career. After I got married, it’s my husband who has been, the wind beneath my wings, always encouraging me and never letting me worry about any other thing. He just tells me to do what I love most. He supports me throughout on every step. So, these two are my heroes. 

 What does music mean to you?  

Well, music is like oxygen to me. I cannot imagine my life without music. It’s what I breathe and makes me live. 

 Harshdeep Kaur live at Indigo at The O2, 205 Peninsula Square, London SE10 0ES on July 12. www.theo2.co.uk