Music Inc. 2019: How can music bring about social impact

Ricky Kej, music composer, environmentalist & producer; Sonam Kalra, artist; and Dolly Rateshwar, Programme Head of The Dharavi Project, discuss with Mae Mariam Thomas, Founder, Made in India


On the second day of Music Inc., one of India’s biggest music conclaves held in Mumbai on Saturday, a panel of esteemed speakers discussed how music can create a global impact.

The panel had Ricky Kej, music composer, environmentalist & producer; Sonam Kalra, artist; and Dolly Rateshwar, Programme Head of The Dharavi Project. The discussion was moderated by Mae Mariam Thomas, Founder, Made in India.

Thomas started the discussion by revisiting her time in 80s and 90s to share how music impacted her life. She remembered how she would listen the coolest music on radio while doing squats. Thomas then asked all panellist as to how music impacted them in their growing up years.

Kej started the conversation sharing how during school years, his schoolmates were obsessed with television programmes but he used to find comfort in music. He also shared how he developed a connect with animals while listening to music. “Music helped me connect with environment and sustainability,” said Kej, who is now an ambassador of UN and performs only environmental music.

For Sonam Kalra, music was always in the house during her growing up years. Her earliest memory of music was when she was three years old and would sit in her mother’s lap and listen to Beghum Akhtar and some international artists.

Kalra started singing at a very young age. Kalra took a break from music but got back again when she realised that she wanted to say something through her music. “When I sing, I feel at home,” she said.

Rateshwar, who wasn’t too attached with music in the childhood, pointed out that her family believed in giving back to the society, and music is her way of doing that.

Kej said music is a very powerful language and brands have been using music since time immemorial. “Music is the only way I connect to the world and impact their lives. One can try to change the world, but to create an impact, one needs to be creative with their work,” he said.

Kej believes that one needs to make a difference to the lives of the people who have been neglected. He shared how he created music to bring awareness about air pollution.

When asked how important it is to find a right way to bring the message out through music, Kalra said it is imperative to have the right music for the targeted people.

Kalra shared how to bring a change in people’s mindset and to heal the pain of India’s partition, she created a musical. In a bid to remove the stigma of being called a refugee, Kalra had been doing shows on her musical called Partition Musical. Kalra believes that even if one person changes his/her outlook because of her music, her service towards music is done.

Rateshwar shared how she has been helping kids from the low strata of the society, giving them a platform to nurture and develop their art of expression through lyrics.

The panellists said several national and international artistes have created a social impact through their music.

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