A passion for music

Shristi Devi with her father Rajesh Kumar. Picture: ANISH CHAND

At an age when most children spend their time studying and are occupied with career-related aspirations, 18-year-old Shristri Shikha Devi of Rara Housing, Lajonia, in Labasa possesses a passion for music that she hopes to harness in the coming years.

The Labasa College student has a sweet and melodious voice and sings a genre of songs.

“I love music because I’m at peace when I sing,” she said “Music is like a stress reliever and I feel at peace while singing.”

Her fingers run effortlessly on the harmonium now, thanks to 14 years of teachings by her father, Rajesh Kumar, who himself is a musician.

“I started liking music and started singing when I was in class 4.”

“Back then I didn’t know how to play any instrument, let alone know how the harmonium worked.”

Shristri has been singing at religious gatherings in Rakiraki, where her father was posted as head teacher at a primary school and in Labasa, where she was born and bred.

Her fame skyrocketed in February 2020 when a video of her singing was posted on the social media page of Radio Fiji Two.

It had 161,000 views and 2700 comments.

She says musicians should always be humble and let people appreciate their talent.

“Music has no end, so I am still learning, and I am not yet perfect as no one is perfect. I still need to learn a lot of things especially the sargam.”

Shristri says her family support gives her the confidence to sing in any environment and in front of large gatherings.

“I thank my dad because he has always been there with me and he was the one who gave me inspiration to learn music, and to be part our Hindu traditional customs from where my musical roots come from.”

In the past few years, she has taken her singing talent into several other genres apart from the traditional kirtans.

“I can now sing Bollywood songs, ghazals, bhajans and I am trying to learn lok-geets.

“I have interest in writing songs, and I have written a bit, but I would love to write my own kirtans and bhajans.”

Her inspiration is another female artist Sonam Bali who lives in Canada and has released numerous albums in Fiji.

“I want to sing in front her, that’s what I have always dreamt of since. I have been singing her kirtans since I was small and had just started liking music.”

With secondary school ending soon and tertiary education awaiting her, Shristri is determined not to give up her love for music.

“I have never thought of learning music because I have always loved it and I am progressing a little bit — day after day.” “I am never going to give it up.”

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