The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Melanie’s darling and the magic of her music

Ricky Martin, Sting, Melanie Griffith… and Radhika Bose. The 11-year-old’s voice has taken her from the school auditorium to the world stage, from belting out Westlife and Shakira favourites to singing with the stars. And for an album with a cause — the CD on love and harmony, compiled by Sabera Foundation, to be released at a celebrity dinner at Hollywood home of star couple Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, on October 10.

Radhika recorded her lines at the state-of-the-art Sabera studio at Ghazipur when Melanie and sister Tracy were visiting the NGO’s Kalitala home for underprivileged girls last month. The crowning moment for the shy Class V student of Modern High School was when “Melanie Griffith hugged me and told me I was wonderful and that I would go far”.

The only child, chosen from the 12 short-listed in a talent search in Calcutta, to perform solo numbers on the album, Radhika admits she was “a little nervous in the recording room in the beginning”. But once she started singing — Imagine, Let the heart be your pilot, Ave Maria and three more — “everything was fine. I made no mistakes”.

In fact, she shooed mother Debjani out of the room, when she tried to prompt her daughter. “Nacho Cano of the Foundation was very helpful. He kept saying she was wonderful, and that Mini (Radhika) had a real talent, and was confident too,” recounts Debjani.

A number of girls from Sabera’s Kalitala home, beyond Thakurpukur, also feature in the album. “They sang with me in the chorus for Imagine and Ave Maria. They are all very nice and Melanie Griffith was very happy when she was there,” smiles Radhika. Adds her mother: “In fact, she (Melanie) was so content being here, that she said ‘My heart is here and this is where I’d like to be, but I don’t live here’.” Tracy, a country singer, also sang with the frail young girl.

One thing Radhika has never been, says father Siddhartha, is ‘stage-shy’. “Her first public performance was at a ticketed event at St Xaviers’ auditorium, when she was only nine. But we were more nervous than she was.”

The “self-taught” singer is now turning her hand to the piano. “It takes me only about five or 10 minutes to pick up a song,” she declares.

But singing is her first love, which she does any time, anywhere. “She often takes a break from her studies and just sings for a while. It is not only good practice, but also a relaxation technique,” says Siddhartha. “I like listening to music too, but I like singing more. Only English numbers, though,” clarifies Radhika.

So, is an album up next or is it back to the normal routine for the rising star' Radhika hasn’t decided yet. But one thing she is sure of is that music is where her future lies.

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