Tanmayee Banerjee - Award Winning Bengali Singer from London | WBRi Feature


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[Tanmayee Banerjee]Washington, DC, Sept 13, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Born in North Calcutta in early 1980, Tanmayee Banerjee grew up in Konnagar in Hooghly district of West Bengal. Her parents tell her even before she was brought home from the hospital after her birth, a brand new harmonium was bought by her paternal aunts with a desire to give her lessons in music! Just as it is difficult to remember the early days of one's life before learning to talk or even walk, Tanmayee cannot remember the days when she did not sing.

Initially a music teacher who lived in her neighbourhood was appointed to give her lessons in Classical music. Tanmayee remembers taking her first music examinations, practical and theoretical, when she was a mere first grade student. It was an ordeal more for her mother than for her. Her mother had to go through the syllabus, read and understand the various musical terms and their definitions, learn how to write the ‘taals’ with proper scansion, and teach them to her. She had to make Tanmayee practice writing them a number of times before the exam.

But Tanmayee's first experience of taking a theoretical examination in Music was that of utter disgust and disappointment. She watched her seniors copying straight from their books and the teachers guiding them as to what to copy and from where. Their reactions towards her, a mere 6 year old girl, answering the questions without any help, either from the teacher or from the book, was mixed. Some were amazed and some interpreted it as ‘childish honesty’ which, they were confident, would fade away with time. However, Tanmayee strictly maintained that ‘childish honesty’ till the last Music exam of her life.

After a couple of years when Tanmayee was gradually losing interest in music because of the dispassionate and unemotional rendition of the ragas taught to her (she realized the reasons much later), a new teacher was appointed. This was for the first time that Tanmayee came to learn that each ‘bandish’ is a poem, it is set in a meter, it has a meaning which needs to find expression through its rendition. Thus, it was under the tutelage of her first ‘Guru’ (as she considers him to be so) Sri Kallol Roy that she learnt to enjoy and appreciate music.

Sri Kallol Roy was a direct disciple of Pt. Chinmoy Lahiri, and hence he taught Tanmayee numerous bandhishes written and composed by the latter. Those were extremely sweet and melodious and was loved even by listeners who had no habit of listening to classical music whatsoever.

Tanmayee's proper training thus began under the expert guidance of Sri Kallol Roy which lasted for twelve years. During this period she performed in a few concerts and also started singing for ‘Yuvabani’ (All India Radio). She competed in the Talent Search Contest organized by the Dover Lane Music Conference in 1996 and was awarded the Best Youngest Talent Award. Apart from that she always bagged one or two prizes every year in the inter-school music competitions when she was a student at St. Agnes’ Convent School, Howrah.

Tanmayee's studies and her music went in parallel with each other and neither had ever to be compromised with for the other. She had completed her postgraduation in English from the University of Calcutta, was teaching as a part-time lecturer in an undergraduate college and was about to pursue a M.Phil degree.

By this time she had developed a strong inclination towards Ghazals, Thumri, Dadra and other light classical forms. It was the forte of Late Smt. Sipra Bose and hence, Tanmayee approached her with the desire of receiving training in these areas from her. After a small audition and an informal interview (which she took to understand Tanmayee's temperament), she agreed to accept her as a student. Thus began another journey in Tanmayee's musical career.

Tanmayee passed the audition of All India Radio and began performing since 2005. By this time she had already performed for a few TV Channels in selected programmes. The training finally came to an end in 2008 when she moved to London, UK.

It was her plan to visit Smt. Bose for a month every year and continue her training. Little did Tanmayee know that Smt. Bose's visit to her marriage ceremony in February 2008 would be the last time she would see her.

Both Sri Kallol Roy and Smt. Sipra Bose passed away in 2008.

At present Tanmayee is pursuing her Ph.D. in English at the University of Westminster, London, UK. Her research area is ‘Nationalism and Internationalism in Indian Writings in English’. She lives with her husband, Dr. Sayandip Mukherjee, a research fellow at the Institute of Childhood Diseases, University College London. Tanmayee continues to riyaz and also compose ghazals, but since 2008 she has stayed away from public performance, except for a small program in London in 2010.

Awards

• Awarded “Sangeet Prabhakar” in North Indian Classical Vocal in 1996
• Passed auditions at All India Radio, Kolkata in 2005

Recognitions:

• Awarded the “Best Youngest Talent Award” by the Dover Lane Music Conference, Kolkata in 1997
• Awarded prizes in Bhajan and Raagpradhan by Dover Lane Music Conference, Kolkata in 1998

Performances:

• Performance on All India Radio regularly since 2005
• Performance on Yuvabani, All India Radio since 1997
• Performance on Tara Muzik and other television channels since 2005
• A number of stage performances since 1994

Training:

• Disciple of one of the most eminent vocalists, Smt. Sipra Bose (a direct pupil of Begum Akhtar, Pt. Ravi Shankar and Pt. Chinmoy Lahiri)
• Previous training from Sri Kallol Roy (disciple of Pt. Chinmoy Lahiri)

Specialization:

• Special training in Thumri, Ghazal, Bhajan and Bangla Raagpradhan

Tanmayee Banerjee can be reached at tanvee1701 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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