School for Nepali folk music

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  • Published 12.02.08

Siliguri, Feb. 12: Hira Waiba, hailed as the undisputed melody queen of Nepali folk music in the country, is working on her “most cherished dream” — setting up an international music academy in Kadamtala.

“All these years I had been dreaming of an academy for music and dance as a tribute to my father S.M. Waiba from whom I learnt music,” Waiba said with childish excitement in her two-storied house in Kadamtala, around 10km from here.

“I never thought it would be possible. But now some trusted friends have joined hands with me to form a committee, which is working on a war footing to make S.M. Waiba International Music and Dance Academy functional by April-May,” she added.

The institute is going to come up on the land adjacent to Waiba’s house.

Waiba said the institute would train students on folk, modern and classical music and dance. “It will not be confined to Nepali folk music, though our main focus will be on researching, reviving and conserving that art form.”

She added: “Apart from other Indian cultures, there will be courses on Western and Oriental music too. Since I travel around the world a lot, I hope to get experienced artistes and music teachers to offer short and long-term courses at the centre.”

The dream project would include a welfare trust for aged and retired singers. “Ambar Gurung (a fellow singer) once joked: ‘What will we do when we are no longer able to sing — open a paan shop?’ The trust will provide some security to artistes when they are no longer able to perform.”

Waiba, who is the sole Grade A Nepali folk singer with All India Radio, originally hails from Ambotia near Kurseong. She became an overnight star in India and Nepal with her songs “Phariya Lyayi diyechhan ghanananana” and “Ora daudi jaanda, para daudi jaand” in 1965.

Waiba has bagged several awards both in India and Nepal, including the Mitrasen Purashkar, Agham Singh Giri Purashkar and Gorkha Saheed Sewa Samiti’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the only Nepali folk singer to have cut albums (in 1974 and 1978) with HMV, Calcutta.