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Posthumous award for Garo musician

Tura, Jan. 21: Beckington D. Shira, the best-known lyricist, singer and composer from Garo hills, was given the district award for his contribution to music posthumously on the 42nd Meghalaya Statehood Day today.

Shira’s wife Tisdali B. Sangma received the award from North Tura MLA Noverfield R. Marak and thanked the administration. Born on March 14, 1936, Shira died on July 11, 1985.

Recalling Shira’s style of music, Tisdali, a retired government official said, “He was a different person altogether. He composed songs looking at the world around. One of his compositions, which narrates his journey from Tura to Shillong, was a smash hit.”

She said, “He was a man with so much youthful energy that he wrote songs even in his 50s about youth, love and romance. Songs like O’ da’ororonipante metra (today’s modern youth) are still afresh in our minds. It makes us feel his presence even today.”

A born singer, Beckington started signing from his early schooldays at his native village in Dilma, North Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. A passionate poet and a songwriter, Beckington composed all kinds of songs from folk, romantic and modern Garo songs.

Recollecting Shira’s contribution to the development of modern Garo songs, retired principal of Government Boys Higher Secondary School Cunningham K. Marak said, “His songs were so popular that after his demise, I made an attempt to documents some of his best numbers as audio album. He was not just a composer and singer but an entertainer par excellence.”

Marak’s wife Claudia Sangma, an ardent fan of Shira, said, “We used to wait for All India Radio broadcast to listen to his songs. As teenagers, we enjoyed his jam sessions at Bonepa Club Tura.”

Shira’s journey as a singer started from All India Radio, where he was given an opportunity to sing during the sixties. His composition depicted the style and fashion of modern youths, which are still sung by singers like Luxley Robinhood Ch. Momin, a member of the district council.

Shira’s niece Alva B. Sangma, editor of a local weekly in Tura said, “His songs are still rocking! Every year, we celebrate a retro night, where his songs, top the event. Youths can seek inspiration from his songs. His songs had all flavour from merriment to serious issues like invention of rocket science, etc.”

Other than singing for All India Radio, he recorded some of his best original songs in HMV record, Guwahati during 1970s. He was a recipient of Kurangma Award 2002, conferred on him posthumously by Achik Music Society.

He also received the best performer award in a national-level singing programme organised by Sangeet Natak Akademi in Silchar, Assam during seventies.

Awards: Three distinguished personalities — an eminent teacher and music artiste, a renowned social worker and the first woman from Meghalaya to conquer Mt Everest — will be presented with the Meghalaya Day Awards, 2014.

Silbi Passah, an eminent teacher and musician, will be bestowed the U Tirot Sing Award for art and literature while Skylance G. Momin, a retired IPS officer, who is now the leader of the nokma (village head) council in Garo hills, has been selected for the Pa Togan Sangma Award for social service.

Wansuk Myrthong of the 1st Meghalaya Police Battalion, who became the first woman from the state to scale Mt Everest last year, will be bestowed the U Kiang Nangbah Award for sports.

These awards were announced today during the Meghalaya Day celebrations in Shillong.

The awards, comprising a citation and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh each, are usually presented during the Republic Day celebrations.


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