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Speak Easy: Paula Jeanine
American vocalist/percussionist/lyricist and composer Paula Jeanine has recently been exploring her love for music by bringing two diverse cultures together ~ the soothing sounds of ghazal with melodies from the west. On her first Indian tour, she talks to The Record about all things music.

On Her Tour Across IndiaÖ

One of the thrilling things about the tour was that I had to work with different musicians in every place and every moment was breaking new ground for me creatively. I felt like I was at the top of my work ~ it didnít just engage me as a musician, it engaged me as a leader and as a woman and as an American. It was amazing to see so many young people be so enthusiastic about the music. The American Center also arranged for there to be some service elements in the tour. So I did these really high profile gigs and then they said, ĎOkay Paula youíre going to go and address the AIDS and addiction challenged people in rehab placesí, in the middle of nowhere in Raipur. Then we also went to the Happy Home For The Blind and performed for the children there. These things were in the blend, and that is, I think, in the best form of Americanism: to have a balance in what we do and also in the best form of the Indian experience as well. That was great!

On Her Journey In MusicÖ
What Iím always going for in my music is, ĎWho am I? Iím not even a human at the moment. Iím blending with something bigger than me, bigger than my speck of sand on the shore by the ocean. I am going into something that is there before me and will be there after me.í But in that moment we are really making something. Youíre trying to touch the divine and you canít force it. The musicians here have allowed me to have that experience. Theyíve spoiled me! [Smiles] I have to come back!

On The Reactions To Her Musical Creation ~ American GhazalÖ
People are astonished! First itís likeÖ ĎMasala pizza?í [Laughs] because they are not certain what it is. But they get their mind around it pretty quickly, once they see how Iím singing it and that Iím giving myself to itÖ Iíve being doing this for a couple of years now so Iím comfortable in it. It doesnít feel that Iíve just learned it, Iíve been living and breathing it for a while. It seems to be moving the audience, and they are giving it back! People were crying at the last show [in India], they were engaged by it. And in New York, the people that donít know a ghazal from Google, you know, [laughs] they just like the way the song sounds, the way Iím moving my voice.

On The Challenges Of Being An ArtistÖ
First of all there is always the financial challenge. You have to love it otherwise itís too hard. There are times of plenty and there are times when there is a paucity of work and even emotionally, there will be times youíll be at your best and times when itís the aftermathÖso you have to be ready for the peaks and valleys. Psychologically you have to have the capacity to take it. Most importantly itís about how I have to be true to my art. You just have to keep renewing yourself, you have to stay interested in your work and thatís hard. There isnít that good an infrastructure for artists in India or the US actually. In Europe you get a stipend for your work, my friends in France get a rehearsal space, a government stipend. If they perform and teach music, they get support. In Canada a pretty high amount of radio time has to be devoted to the Canadian artists. We donít have that in the US. In India, I donít think there are enough pages in the paper talking about classical music. You have to foster an appetite in people for it. Itís like you foster an appetite for jeans, you know, because itís in the ads in the papers, and you have to foster an appetite for this as well. You have to make people pay attention.

You can read the rest of our SPeak Easy feature on Paula Jeanine in the November-December 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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