For this issue, we got in touch with Samantha Edwards, a vocal coach and performer. She has performed across a variety of festivals, concerts, gigs, nightclubs, and corporate gigs, and is also working on an album. To know more about her work, do check out MuzicWorks.
If you had to describe what you do, to someone you’ve just met, what would you say?
“Hi. I am a Singer and have been one since the age of 5 (with a partial leaning towards Jazz, Soul, and The Blues). Along the way, through experience and study, I have developed a keen interest and understanding in every aspect of the human voice, singing, vocal technique, vocal pedagogy, and performance. Hence I am a Vocal coach as well. And when I am not all-consumed by music and my children, I whip up desserts and pastries for my family and friends.”
Who have your inspirations been along the way?
Well, as a musician, one is inspired by a collection of many attributes from so many diverse artistes. I grew up with great exposure to singers like Ella Fitgerald, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter -and many more. I was also fortunate to have grown up in a time when the heavy hitters like Whitney Hosuton and Mariah Carey were the staples.
How did you get into this field? What does it take, as a person, and what were the circumstances involved?
I was fortunate to have been born in Bandra - a place where the arts was cultivated at a very early age. I first sang on stage at the age of five in a local talent contest. Having discovered the stage and found a voice, the passion just grew. As a singer then, or even as a musician for that matter, these professions were not considered to be financially viable or even viable career options. So, I pursued academics and music simultaneously. I did my Bachelors and Masters in Arts and thereafter, did two Licentiates in Music - for performance and teaching. Over the last 20 odd years, I have engaged in every aspect of singing - with jingles, background scores in Bollywood, solo playback for films, live performances, own concerts, and of-course, teaching. Today, with technology and new media, there are tons of options- and more importantly, access to resources- be it financial, academic, or profession related.
Are you content with your artistic direction as a performer?
I don’t think any artiste ever says they’ve done enough. As a performer, my genre of music viz. Jazz, the Blues, etc., have had limited growth trajectories in India. Tragically, these genres are misunderstood and often considered elitist or painted with the brush of elitism; [and] ironically, these genres are actually a basis of creativity, and an accelerated sense of music development and learning. Within India, I have performed across a variety of festivals, concerts, gigs, nightclubs, and corporate gigs. I am now working on an album and will look beyond our shores as well.
How did you decide on this career?
As a performer, the choice of career was driven by passion, study and a will to succeed. As a vocal coach, this grew out of necessity. Most formal music education in India has been rooted in the Classical genre - be it Western or Indian. The popular genres or Contemporary music have scarce formal teaching in India for Voice in particular. Hence, this required one to study abroad (which I did) and begin to pass the information along backed by the experience of being a performer for the last 25 years professionally.
What keeps you going?
Music, Work, Music. My family, A love for food - the mundane and eclectic.
Would you say that you owe your success to someone?
Unfortunately, I lost my father a few months before I was born. I come from a modest family where my mother worked to raise three children. She encouraged each of us in music and the arts in any way possible. I took a particular fancy to it and took it further. So yes, I owe my start to my mother. For the last 15 years, my husband Dale, who is also connected with the industry as an onstage cost and event manager, has backed me every step of the way. My mother, family, students, and audiences are some of the things that I owe my success to.
If not music, then?
Food - Glorious Food! Ironically a song from Oliver best explains it!
In 1997, I started a Desserts and Pastry business called “Sam’s”. I do still take orders, but under the circumstances, it’s more of a hobby and less of a business - in which friends and family are the patrons.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Singer, Teacher, Mother
What would the last line of your autobiography be?
Musician at Heart, Teacher By Day, Singer By Night, Wife and Mother forever. Encore please.
Is this how you pictured yourself ten years ago?
Generally and directionally, yes. Am loving the journey.
How do you picture yourself ten years down the line?
With a blank slate, ready to take on more.