Samina the Songbird
After Runa Laila and Sabina Yeasmin, if there is one singer whose name has dominated the music scene, it's Samina Chowdhury. After a stint at Notun Kuri in her earliest years, Mahmudunnabi's second daughter Samina started playback singing at a very young age, in 1981, and she was an instant star. Who can forget the songs from the movie 'Jonmo theke Jolchi', music directed by Alauddin Ali? These are the songs that made her ubiquitous in mainstream media. That was just the start, one after another, Samina's voice took over the songs in films, and they mostly became popular. She was the new and fresh new voice – and people loved her songs. As a young artist, after 3-4 years of playback singing, Samina took a bold step by saying she prefers to not sing playback songs if the tunes are copied from popular Bollywood numbers. This statement was really sensationalized by everyone in the media, specially her peers, and almost overnight, she was gone from the music scene. She was cornered, and was missing for nearly a decade. Then, just as if healing from a long term wound, Samina returned to playback singing. This is the time when she sang “Amar gorur gari te…”, the unbelievably popular duet with Andrew Kishore that is song part of almost every major celebration, sang in cultural programs across the country. She considers herself blessed that, despite her very long break, to her credit, there is still about four dozen very popular playback songs which are remembered by people today. I met her as a child, and have known her for most of her life – people close to her call her Shuma. I often used to tease her by saying that whenever Shuma opened her mouth, the only thing that would flow out is a note of melody! When I organized a musical concert in 2010 at Shahjalal University, Sylhet as part of Celebrating Life Competition's festivals, Mohammad Zafar Iqbal was worried that youngsters of today are more inclined towards band music, and Samina might not attract a lot of listeners. He was worried that my efforts of organizing the concert might not be fruitful. Then, at the concert when Samina's voice filled the auditorium to the brim, and there were literally thousands of students who were stepping on each other's feet to find a way to stand and watch the show, he stood up on stage, took the mic and said “This is such a pleasant surprise! If I could afford to, I would coat Samina's voice with gold.” Since this concert, Samina no longer feels teased when I say the same statement, I guess now she realizes that I was never joking about what I said. And that's what true artists are, regardless of genre, style and kind of music, they draw the audience out, evoking their emotions and reminding them of forgotten feelings. I can't wait for Samina's two new albums, her solo modern album “Pushpo Brishti”, and a second yet to be named album featuring both Rabindra sangeet and Nazrul geeti.