Life is not easy at the top for the 25-year-old Hindustani classical singer Kaushiki Chakrabarty. The singer, who is from Calcutta, possesses an intensity and emotion well beyond her years. The Katie Melua of India, she has captured the Indian youth market with sentiments such as "the dusk is setting, Ghanashyam has not yet come to me/ I am staring and staring, on his way from when I don't know/ Numerous sleepless nights, I have passed counting the stars". She has only to walk out on to the street to be recognised by fans. "There is a lot of responsibility and expectation heaped on me," says Chakrabarty, who has released four albums to date, with a new album of devotional songs on its way. "I believe to reach the heights is easy, but to sustain it is more difficult."
Chakrabarty released her meditative first album, Pure, in the UK last year, which included compositions by her father, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty. She was immediately hailed as a shining light in the evolution of Indian classical music, and went on to win the Asia/Pacific Radio 3 Award for World Music 2005. She will now be performing on 13 May at Heart of the World, a four-day world music festival in Cambridge that also features performances by Dr John and Salif Keita. Chakrabarty will also be leading a series of workshops there, teaching vocal and breathing techniques.
She started singing at the age of one and a half, having always, in her father's eyes, been destined to be a child prodigy. "My mother [the singer Chandna Chakrabarty] taught me the basic skills so I could sing any musical note and rhythmic phrase by the age of two," says Chakrabarty. She then started her formal training with her father, who pushed his daughter hard. Her daily routine continues to be gruelling - "I spend five to six hours a day practising singing" - although she has managed a few extracurricular activities recently, such as studying for an MA in philosophy.
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