CALVIN WUMBAYA

 

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I did my schooling from Mount St. Mary’s School, Delhi. By the time I had completed LLB(hons), I had done three Broadway based Dance Musical Theatre productions in fairly good roles as actor, dancer and singer. Most of those years were spent playing football, jamming with friends and travelling north whenever I could afford it.

I knew little about the music industry back then and paid gigs were merely incidental to the fact that we played for fun. But travel, exploration and adventures were the benchmarks I had set for myself as being successful in general.

Live music as a performing art seemed conducive to me. To make a living as an artist, I figured that since I preferred my own versions of songs people heard on the radio, they might too.

Eventually, I quit legal practice to focus on live music battling my own professional insecurities as well as the disappointment of those close to me. After a short stint at cafes in Paharganj playing music daily, I borrowed some money and headed to Goa for the very first time. I attempted the journey on cycle once but I barely made it to the Rajasthan border.

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Spending the winter in Goa taught me a lot about courage which is fairly important to be successful at just about any new endeavor. I also met many unusual international veteran artists who gave me both hope and life lessons, including tips on vocals and guitar. Jamming with musicians and playing for audience helps detach oneself from the act of performance and see the broader picture. Any art exposed exclusively to self-indulgence will be limited in its ability to reach people in general. This is to me the essence of folk music as I understand it. The waters of art have far broader and deeper relevance nonetheless.

I spent the following summer running a café in Leh and had a great time with local friends, playing music in the evenings and biking and camping on full moon nights. The next summer I backpacked through Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka exploring the avenues for getting paid gigs and visiting friends I had made while travelling over the years.

Personally, although these unusual tours, jams and performances have had more to offer than any institutional learning, at some point, it becomes important to not to be broke perpetually, as well as grow as an artist.

Spending the last few years performing in Delhi NCR however, has been quite exciting and jamming and working with diverse and varied musicians has been a wonderful experience.

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